Southeast Asia is a hard region for anyone to straddle. There is no common language, sovereignty is strongly asserted, and there are plenty of deeply felt enmities. If there was one man in recent history who managed to overcome some of these obstacles and project the region's vitality and importance, it was Surin Pitsuwan of Thailand, who died of a heart attack on Nov. 30 at the age of 68.
Michael Vatikiotis: The statesman who raised Southeast Asia's profile
As secretary-general of ASEAN, Surin Pitsuwan fought the odds to do good in the region