JOHOR BARU: The late Datuk N. Parameswaran (pic) was a brilliant and sharp diplomat who excelled during his long stint in the foreign service, describe friends and former colleagues.
His long-time friend and colleague, Datuk Dr Ilango Karuppannan, said they were all saddened by his passing as he was a “treasure trove” of knowledge, especially in foreign policy.
“I have known Param for more than 30 years. In fact, at one point, he was my immediate superior for three years when he was made the deputy secretary-general (special functions) from 2001 to 2003.
“As I in the policy planning division, I had to work and travel a lot with him,” he said, describing Parameswaran as a meticulous person with a sharp memory.
The former Malaysian High Commissioner to Singapore passed away at 12.30pm on Friday.
Parameswaran, 74, was found unconscious at his home in Iskandar Puteri by a friend.
Medical personnel later pronounced him dead at the scene.
Asked about some memorable incidents that he could recall, Ilango, who was also former Malaysian High Commissioner to Singapore, said that Parameswaran could draft speaking notes on complex issues on the spot.
“Linguistic dexterity is required to prepare the prime minister’s intervention notes. Not many people can do that quickly under pressure,” Ilango explained.
Parameswaran, he added, was probably the first non-Malay officer posted to the Malaysian Embassy in Indonesia as Second Secretary.
Ilango, who retired from the foreign service in 2020, said Parameswaran was also passionate about art and was an avid art collector.
Another long-time friend, Ravi Nambiar, said he was shocked to hear about his passing.
“He was an outstanding diplomat who was gracious yet tough and unflinching when it came to protecting Malaysia’s international image and standing.
“During his stint in Singapore, there were many issues there, including the famous Crooked Bridge project, Pulau Batu Puteh and with regards to raw water,” said the former bureau chief of a local English daily.
Ravi said one notable success was when Parameswaran clamped down on illegal touts making money around the High Commission in Singapore, especially in consular services.
“At one point, Parameswaran started receiving death threats.
“He also worked with the Singaporean authorities to help resolve issues relating to Sabahans and Sarawakians who were duped into going to the republic with promises of lucrative jobs, only to be exploited when they arrived there,” he added.
Parameswaran, said the Johor Royal Press Office chief, was also a media-friendly person with a network of contacts. He was also generous with stories and gave excellent quotes.
Parameswaran was the Malaysian High Commissioner to Singapore from 2003 to 2010.
He served in six posts in Africa, United States, Asia and Europe and had more than 40 years of experience as a career diplomat.
Born in Kuala Kangsar, Perak, in 1948, he joined the foreign service in 1969.
The funeral is expected to be held today.