Bilahari Kausikan to speak at 9th Khwaish Lecture

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Bilahari Kausikan (Photo: IPS Nathan Lecture screen grab)

Singapore’s ambassador-at-large Bilahari Kausikan will speak at the 9th Khwaish Lecture organised by Young Sikh Association Singapore (YSA) on Saturday (21 June 2018).

The former permanent secretary of Singapore’s foreign ministry will speak on the foundations of Singapore’s foreign policy. The event, starting at 12.15pm, will be held at the Singapore Khalsa Association at Tessensohn Road.

Bilahari has been lauded as one of the finest minds in Singapore’s public service while others have labelled him the “undiplomatic diplomat” who says what he thinks and means what he says, according to an article in the Straits Times last year. He was also known as the “prolific public intellectual” who has an expansive vocabulary with which to take down those whose arguments fall short of his exacting standards, the article added.

In a 2011 interview published by Challenge, a publication of the Singapore Public Service, he said that a good public officer is not afraid to speak up and will vigorously defend his view, but once the decision is made, sticks with it even if it may not be what he agrees with.

“You are complicit,” he stressed. “You carry out the decision and don’t complain after the event. This is the value of the Public Service. If you had really felt so strongly about it at the time, you should have resigned.”

In 2015, his 3,000-word opinion piece entitled Singapore is not an island, with a subhead ‘Malaysia is undergoing a systemic change that has profound consequences for Singapore’, published by the Straits Times, received a strong rebuttal from the then Malaysian opposition parliamentarian Tony Pua. See here.

The last Khwaish Lecture held in April 2016 featured Prof Tommy Koh, a former ambassador to the United States and also Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York from 1968 to 1971, who spoke about the growing role of ‘soft power’ in Asia.

[For event details, call Sheena Gill 65-81250935 or sheena.gill17@gmail.com or D Sithara at dsithara12@ymail.com]

 

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