Condolence Letter on the Passing of Former Thai PM and Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda

Prime Minister's Office | 31 May 2019

PM Lee Hsien Loong wrote to Thailand PM Prayut Chan-o-Cha to express condolences on the passing of former PM and President of the Privy Council of the Kingdom of Thailand General Prem Tinsulanonda.


Dear Prime Minister Prayut,

On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Singapore, I extend my deepest condolences on the passing of H.E. General Prem Tinsulanonda.

General Prem served Thailand with great distinction. As Prime Minister from 1980 to 1988, he guided the country with a steady hand, bringing it much needed stability after a decade of political uncertainty and numerous changes of government. A capable and immensely respected leader, General Prem stewarded a period of economic growth in the 1980s, working with his colleagues and officials to reform the economy by devaluing the baht, building up manufacturing, and fostering export-led growth.

During General Prem’s premiership, he steered Thailand through a period of democratic development, holding three elections during his watch and progressively including more elected ministers in each of his five Cabinets.

As the President of the Privy Council from 1998 to 2019, General Prem continued to be a loyal and trusted source of advice and counsel to the King. He also provided wise counsel to successive military and civilian governments. Thailand has greatly benefited from his wise guidance.

General Prem’s leadership has also benefited the region. His time as Prime Minister coincided with the five countries of ASEAN coming together decisively to resolutely oppose Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia and the Cambodian government that replaced the Khmer Rouge. Thailand was on the frontline, facing Vietnamese forces across its border with Cambodia. General Prem was resolute in not accepting this fait accompli. Supported by his able Foreign Minister, Air Chief Marshal Siddhi Savetsila, General Prem worked with ASEAN partners to support the resistance forces of the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea from Thai territory, and to oppose the Vietnamese occupation in international forums. This effective collective resistance prevented a military invasion and regime change from being legitimised, and protected the security of other Southeast Asian countries. Eventually the invasion forces withdrew, a peace settlement was signed, and internationally supervised elections were held to elect a new Cambodian government. This decisively shaped the subsequent course of Southeast Asia. It paved the way for Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos to join ASEAN, as partners in promoting the region’s peace and development.

General Prem was also a good friend of Singapore. Mr Lee Kuan Yew worked closely with him and had deep respect for him as a statesman. He strengthened relations between our two countries, including between our militaries, and Singapore and Thailand forged a strong and enduring partnership. I had the opportunity to meet General Prem several times, and called on him during my two visits to Bangkok in 1999 and 2000. He was gracious with his hospitability and counsel. General Prem will be greatly missed by the people of Thailand and all who knew him.

My thoughts are with the people of Thailand in this moment of loss.

With my deepest sympathies,



His Excellency Prayut Chan-o-Cha
Prime Minister
Kingdom of Thailand

Foreign affairs