BANGKOK — Former Association of Southeast Asian Nations secretary general Surin Pitsuwan died Thursday of a heart attack in Bangkok. He was 68.
Mr. Surin was a former Democrat Party lawmaker who also served as Thailand’s foreign minister in the late 1990s. He is best known for his time at the head of the 10-member ASEAN from 2008 until 2012. His name was also mentioned as a candidate for United Nations secretary general.
Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “His outstanding personality, knowledge, and wisdom were truly recognized by global leaders.’’
Mr. Surin remained active in regional diplomatic circles until his death. He appeared to be in good health. Posts on his official Facebook page show him visiting a Bangkok co-working space on Wednesday.
Two weeks ago, he spoke at a conference marking the 50th anniversary of ASEAN.
His remarks, punctuated with emphasis in his trademark deep voice, lauded cooperative organizations such as ASEAN as a means of ‘‘creating a space for the region to talk to itself.’’ He asked, ‘‘How can we unleash the energy, the creativity, the power of 640 million people onto the platform of ASEAN?’’
‘‘Be ourselves,’’ he said of ASEAN nations. ‘‘Be self-sufficient. Be helpful to each other before we wait for contributions from the outside.’’