SAA2014

MEDIA RELEASE

Ten to be honoured at the inaugural Singapore Advocacy Awards

30 August 2014:  Ten individuals and organisations who made major contributions to the growth of civil society in Singapore in the last three years are being honoured today at the inaugural Singapore Advocacy Awards.

They are, in alphabetical order:

  • ACRES (animal welfare organisation)
  • All Things Bukit Brown (heritage preservation movement)
  • Braema Mathi (human rights advocate)
  • Chan Li Shan (mental health advocate)
  • Damien Chng (second chances advocate)
  • Eugene Tay (environmental sustainability advocate)
  • Jeremy Boo and Lee Xian Jie (social issue filmmakers)
  • Louis Ng (animal welfare advocate)
  • M Ravi (human rights lawyer)
  • Pink Dot (freedom to love movement)

At the awards ceremony at The Arts House, each will receive a certificate and a contribution of $1,000 towards their cause. Of the 10, five will additionally be presented with a special token in recognition of their outstanding achievements. These are:

  • Braema Mathi and Louis Ng, who will be named as Advocates of the Year
  • All Things Bukit Brown – Advocacy Organisation of the Year
  • Chan Li Shan and Damien Chng – Most Promising Advocates.

This is the first time that the work of civil society activists is being recognised and applauded in Singapore.  Those being honoured took it upon themselves to identify a societal need and to do something about it, and their efforts have been important in the development of civil society space and the shaping of a democratic society.

Significantly, the Singapore Advocacy Awards is a peer initiative, being organised by a group of civil society activists called The Working Committee 3. This is a further sign of empowerment and the growing importance of civil society.

Members of the public were invited to nominate candidates for the Awards, and 18 nominations were received. The judging panel was headed by arts educator and Cultural Medallion winner T Sasitharan. The other panel members were:

  • Cherian George – Academic
  • Richard Ho – Architect
  • Faizah Jamal – NMP and environmental activist
  • Sharon Siddique – Consultant
  • Constance Singam – Civil society activist and writer
  • Wong Ting Hway – Medical doctor
  • Geoffrey Yu – Arts supporter and former diplomat.

“Activism and advocacy are the cornerstones of an active and vital civil society movement and the need to establish and protect free space for civil society has never been more urgent than it is now,” said Mr Sasitharan.

“In a world increasingly marked by difference and divergence, by opposed legitimacies and contrary interests, dialogue, debate and mutual engagement are the only the choices for progressive politics in democracies.

He added: “Activism, the will of citizens to act for a cause, and advocacy, the will of citizens to speak for a cause, will become the very means by which the new politics will be played out. The writing is on the wall. A strong civil society will lead to healthy, functioning democracies. Conversely, healthy, well-functioning democracies must allow strong civil societies to exist.

“If civil society in Singapore is to grow and mature, then it is crucial that good advocacy work that makes an impact on society, that is engaged with the community and that empowers people, should be properly recognised, acknowledged and applauded.”

Details about the Awards and the citations for the five being recognised for their outstanding achievements are attached. For further information, please contact Constance Singam, TWC3 chairperson, at connie.singam@gmail.com.