Ambassador K Kesavapany (friends call him Pany) over the past eighty-odd years has racked up more than a few interesting stories and experiences. Now people can read about his illustrious life in a book titled ‘From Estate to Embassy: Memories of an Ambassador’, written in association with renowned author Anitha Devi Pillai.
The book will be officially released in a function at PGP Hall in Singapore on April 5 where Foreign Affairs Minister of Singapore Dr Vivian Balakrishnan will be the Guest-of-Honour and the event will be moderated by Ravi Velloor, veteran journalist and Associate Editor, Straits Times.
This biography documents K Kesavapany's journey from the Malayan estates in the late 1930s to his move to Singapore when he was headhunted to join the Singapore Civil Service in the 1970s, and from his entry into Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) to his subsequent sojourns abroad in Australia, Turkey, Geneva, Jordan, Indonesia, Russia, United Kingdom and Malaysia.
After retiring from his last post with the MFA, he took on the position of Director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore.
Author Anitha Devi Pillai has indicated many of her favourite sections in the book which chronicles many novel parts of Pany’s life.
“One of my favourite sections in the book is the opening paragraph where Amb Pany talks about an exchange with Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore. That paragraph is special for many reasons - one it was the way it was narrated to me - I could almost visualise it happening right in front of me,” she said.
“He is such a good orator, I was spellbound half the time listening to his stories,” she added.
Kesavapany is known for his seasoned diplomacy. However, his diplomatic skills were put to the test when he organised the first ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Singapore in 1996. He considers this one of the highlights of his diplomatic career. Following his return from Geneva the same year, where he was ambassador to the UN and the WTO, he was made Singapore's high commissioner to Malaysia.
This book also delves on the next phase of his journey where he holds several prominent portfolios in Singapore's social and academic scene, including Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. He is a Governor on the Board of the Singapore International Foundation and President of the Singapore Indian Association (SIA). He is also a board member of the Energy Institute of Singapore (EIS), founding committee member of the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS), Term Trustee of Singapore Indian Association, SINDA, member of the Rotary Club of Raffles City (RCRC).
As the founding committee member of the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS), Ambassador Kesavapany played a key role in promoting awareness about dyslexia, bringing it from initial years of many Singaporeans not wanting to admit that their children were dyslexic until wide acceptance of it as a learning difference today.
DAS hopes that his story will inspire Singapore’s younger generation to contribute to society, using the impact he has made on the lives of people with dyslexia over the past two decades as an example. Ambassador Kesavapany drew inspiration himself from the late President of Singapore SR Nathan who was his lifetime mentor in social service.