Bilahari Kausikan Keynote Speaker

  • Former Permanent Representative to the UN
  • Chairman of the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore
  • 37-year career in Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Bilahari Kausikan's Biography

Bilahari Kausikan is a Singaporean academic and retired diplomat. He was Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the former ambassador to the UN and Russia. Bilahari is currently Chairman of the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore.

Bilahari Kausikan joined the civil service in 1981. He was appointed as Singapore’s ambassador to the newly formed Russian Federation in 1994, and subsequently as ambassador to the United Nations (1995 – 1998). Bilahari was appointed Second Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2001, and promoted to Permanent Secretary in 2010.

After a 37-year career in Singapore’s foreign relations, Bilahari is known to speak his mind about the issues confronting the country and the wider region. He believes the civil service has become too accomodative and argues that ‘when you are polite, nothing gets done.’ He has called for Singapore to be more muscular in its own declicate diplomatic relations, saying that true neurality means ‘knowing your own interests, taking positions based on your own interests and not allowing others to define your interests for you by default‘. Furthermore, he warns of the danger of passivity in relation to the current US-China split, saying there is no ‘sweet spot’ to keep both the Chinese and Americans ‘happy’.

Bilahari studied political science at the University of Singapore before receiving a scholarship to embark on a PhD in international relations at Columbia University. However, he decided against an academic career and retured to Singapore to join the Foreign Ministry. He is the author of Singapore is Not an Island: Views on Singapore Foreign Policy (2017).

Speaking topics include: 

  • US-China relations 
  • Taiwan as a flashpoint
  • Future of Myanmar 
  • South-East Asian politics 
Read More

Videos of Bilahari Kausikan

'How to Think about South-East Asia'
'How to Think about South-East Asia'
Talking US-China tensions with Chatham House
Talking US-China tensions with Chatham House

Books by Bilahari Kausikan

Singapore is Not an Island: Views on Singapore Foreign Policy

Check Bilahari Kausikan's speaking availability and fees

Interested in booking Bilahari Kausikan to speak at an event? Please provide your details and we’ll get in touch within 24 hours.

    View our related Speakers

    Dr. A. Wess Mitchell Speaker
    Dr. A. Wess Mitchell
    American Foreign Policy Expert, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs
    Ryan Hass Speaker
    Ryan Hass Speaker
    Ryan Hass
    Top Level Adviser on International Relations - US and Asia
    Iain Anderson Speaker
    Iain Anderson
    Corporate Communications Expert
    Dr John C. Hulsman Speaker
    Dr John C. Hulsman
    Top Geopolitical Analyst
    Matthew Goodwin Speaker
    Matthew Goodwin
    Leading authority on UK and European politics
    Janan Ganesh Speaker
    Janan Ganesh
    Leading Commentator on Politics in the US and the UK
    Zhe Sun Speaker
    Zhe Sun
    Expert on US-China Relations
    James Crabtree Speaker
    James Crabtree
    Executive Director of the Asia office of the International Institute of Strategic Studies
    Jonathan Hill Speaker
    Jonathan Hill
    Expert on the EU's financial services industry
    Demetri Sevastopulo Speaker
    Demetri Sevastopulo
    US/China Foreign Policy Commentator