[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Thursday, December 11, 2008

[Pak Ali Alatas]
Indonesia lost an outstanding patriot and diplomat in Pak Ali Alatas. All his life, he served his country and his people with utter dedication.

Under President Suharto, first as a senior diplomat, then as Foreign Minister, he worked tirelessly for ASEAN integration. I first knew him as a young Minister of State. He was like an uncle to me. Accompanying President Wee Kim Wee on his state visit to Indonesia around 1990, my wife and I got to know Pak Ali and his wife.

Before we embarked on the drafting of the ASEAN Charter, I sought his help in Jakarta over a private dinner at a Japanese restaurant. He had already retired but responded enthusiastically. He never rested, never turned people away.

He was a good friend of Singapore who contributed much to our excellent bilateral relations.

My wife and I visited him at Mt Elizabeth last week. He was in good spirits. I talked shop with him because I knew that was what interested him. We discussed the global financial crisis, the situation in Thailand and the importance of ASEAN. More than once, he expressed satisfaction at how close Indonesia and Singapore have become.

At the Bali Democracy Conference, I recalled my conversation with Pak Ali which prompted President Yudhoyono to thank Singapore later for taking good care of him. The following morning, we received the sad news that he died from a sudden heart attack. We shall miss him.

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