Surin Pitsuwan Biography


Birthday: October 28, 1949 (Scorpio)

Born In: Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, Thailand

Surin Pitsuwan was a Thai politician and diplomat. He was one of the most well-known and highly respected voices of Thailand. Born in the southern Thai province of Nakhon Si Thammarat, he studied for a year as a high school exchange student in the U.S.A., and went on to complete his post-graduation and doctorate from Harvard University. Then he returned to his homeland and taught political science for a while before entering politics. He became a member of parliament from his hometown and later became the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Thai government. Eventually he was elevated to the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs. Later on, while serving as the Chairman of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), he dedicated himself to fostering greater unity throughout the Southeast Asian region. He was also a member of many international commissions, such as the UN Commission on Human Security, Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, and the International Advisory Board of the International Crisis Group. As an extraordinary political leader and member of several international forums, he championed for the values of democracy and human rights. He contributed significantly towards the well-being of Southeast Asia and the international community.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Surin Abdul Halim bin Ismail Pitsuwan

Died At Age: 68


Spouse/Ex-: Alisa Pitsuwan

children: Frickli Pitsuwan, Hussani Pitsuwan, Muhammad Fuake Pitsuwan

Diplomats Political Leaders

Died on: November 30, 2017

place of death: Bangkok

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

More Facts

education: Harvard University, Thammasat University, Claremont McKenna College

Childhood & Early Life
Surin Pitsuwan was born on October 28, 1949, in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand, in an integrated Thai family of Malay descent.
He received his primary Islamic education from his grand-father, Hj. Yakoob bin Abdul Rauf, who was a well-known ulama. Later, he attended a local school in his home town and completed his primary as well as secondary education.
In 1967–68, he earned the American Field Service (AFS) exchange scholarship and studied as a high school exchange student in the U.S.A. for a year.
Then he attended the Thammasat University, Bangkok, and in 1972, completed his B.A. degree in Political Science from Claremont McKenna College in California, USA.
After completing his graduation, he attended the Harvard University, U.S.A. with aid from the Rockefeller Foundation, and earned his master’s degree in 1974.
From 1975 to 1977, he studied Arabic and conducted his research at the American University in Cairo. Alongside, he also served as a fellow at the Higher Institute of Islamic Research, Cairo.
In 1982, he earned his doctorate in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies from the Harvard University, U.S.A.
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From 1978 to 1983, he worked as a teacher at the Faculty of Political Science at the Thammasat University.
Between 1983 and 1984, he became a Congressional Fellow under the sponsorship of the American Political Science Association (APSA). He worked for the Senate Republican Conference and earned first-hand experience of the American legislative process. Alongside, he also taught Southeast Asian Affairs at the American University in Washington D.C.
In 1984, he returned to Thailand and regained his teaching position at Thammasat University. In 1986, he contested for a parliamentary seat and was elected from his home province of Nakhon Si Thammarat from the Democrat Party.
In 1986, he was appointed the Secretary to the Speaker of the House of Representatives. In 1989, he became the assistant to the Deputy Minister of Interior, a post he served in until 1992.
From 1975 to 1992, he also served as columnist for the two leading English daily newspapers in Bangkok, ‘The Nation’ and the ‘Bangkok Post’.
From 1992 to 1995, he served as the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and then as the Minister of Foreign Affairs between 1997 and 2001.
From 1999 to 2000, Surin Pitsuwan served on the Chair of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and the Chair of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
From 2001 to 2003, he was a member of the Commission on Human Security, and then, between 2003 and 2004, served as an advisor to the UNDP Human Development Report Project.
Between 2002 and 2003, he also worked on the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization and from 2002 to 2004, he served as a member of the ‘Wise Men Group’ organization.
Surin Pitsuwan was a member of the ‘Advisory Board of the UN Human Security Trust Fund’ and the ‘Advisory Board of the International Crisis Group’ (ICG).
He also served as a member of the International Advisory Board of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and as an International Academic Advisor of the Centre for Islamic Studies at the Oxford University.
From October 2013 till his death, he served on the Board of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, a private diplomacy organization whose mission is to prevent armed violence through mediation and dialogue.
Major Works
As the Chairman of the ASEAN organization, Surin Pitsuwan made considerable efforts with the support of the United Nations to help Southeast Asian governments restore law and order. His hard work helped in reinstating peace and security in East Timor.
Personal Life & Legacy
Surin Pitsuwan married Khun Alissa and the couple had three children.
He died of a heart attack on 30 November 2017, at the age of 68. He collapsed as he was preparing to speak at the Thailand Halal Assembly 2017 at BITEC (Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre) in Bang Na, Bangkok.
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