(Washington, D.C.) The Board of Directors, members and staff of the US-ASEAN Business Council offer their sincere condolences to the Shultz family, the U.S. Government, and the people of the United States on the passing of Mr. George Shultz, former U.S. Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of Labor. Shultz passed on February 6, at age 100.
Mr. Shultz held many cabinet posts under presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, culminating in his six and a half years as Secretary of State in the Reagan administration. As he declared trust to be “the coin of the realm,” Mr. Shultz understood the importance of Southeast Asia and the value of building and maintaining long-term relationships there to establish American credibility. During his tenure as Secretary of State, Mr. Shultz attended seven major ASEAN meetings. He developed a particularly strong relationship with Singapore’s founding Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, and played a pivotal role in the establishment of the US-ASEAN Business Council in 1984.
“From the Council’s founding, Mr. Shultz continued to engage us on Southeast Asia, meeting consistently with the Council’s Ambassadors’ Tours whenever we visited San Francisco. George Shultz always had time for the US-ASEAN Business Council,” said Alexander C. Feldman, Chairman, President & CEO of the US-ASEAN Business Council. “The Council is grateful for the role he played in our creation, the time he spent during our Ambassadors’ Tours and his attending our 25th Anniversary Gala Dinner in Washington, DC in 2009.”
One of Mr. Shultz’s favorite stories, which he shared frequently, was how early in his tenure as Secretary of State, he spent a weekend at his home in California discussing global politics with Henry Kissinger, Lee Kuan Yew and Helmut Schmidt. He told the Council that this group gave him the best tutorial on geopolitics of his career and helped form the foundation of his six-year tenure at the State Department. When the US-ASEAN Business Council presented its first Lifetime Achievement Award to Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore during a black-tie celebration of the Council's 25th anniversary in 2009, Shultz extolled the accomplishments of Minister Mentor Lee, saying, "Ideas, information, clarity of mind, integrity of purpose: Lee Kuan Yew has all of these characteristics and many more. He is a truly great man who has been a wonderful friend over many years."
“Secretary Shultz was known to compare foreign policy with ‘gardening’ - doing the day-to-day work of maintaining alliances, relationships and friendships that are so central to maintaining America’s place in the world,” said Council Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director Michael W. Michalak. “I had the pleasure of working with him on Japan issues and was able to see first-hand his magic with colleagues and partners in Tokyo and Washington, DC. His advice is as true today as it was when he was Secretary of State. He lives on in all of us who aspire to be gardeners like him.”
After his career in government service, Mr. Shultz and his pragmatic voice loomed large in the academic and diplomatic communities. He continued to advocate for nuclear non-proliferation globally and advised world leaders on counterterrorism. Mr. Shultz was also deeply committed to addressing the challenges of climate change, marked by his 2017 op-ed encouraging the United States to remain in the Paris Agreement.
The Council will deeply miss George Shultz and remember his great contributions to American diplomacy.