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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, October 23, 2018


RI forest savior among Magsaysay winners

Emergent Leadership Category

Share on Facebook July 28, 2012, Reporter : The Jakarta Post, Reader : 537


An Indonesian forest activist who faced death threats while battling illegal loggers, Ambrosius Ruwindrijarto, has become the latest winner of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, considered Asia’s equivalent to the Nobel Prize.

Ambrosius was selected to receive the Ramon Magsaysay Award in the Emergent Leadership category. 

“The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation president Carmencita Abella called on Wednesday to inform me about the award. I was so surprised, I never expected to be the recipient of this prestigious award,” Ambrosius told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

The board of trustees of the award foundation announced on Thursday that, this year, six individuals from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan would receive Asia’s premier prize on Aug. 31. Each will receive a certificate, a medal and a cash award.

Ambrosius organized a group called Telapak in the 1990s to carry out undercover investigations into the country’s lucrative logging concessions.

The Associated Press reported that, with the help of a UK-based environmental group, he exposed illegal logging and smuggling, sparking public outrage which pressurized Indonesia to tighten regulations on the timber trade. He was threatened with death, assaulted and once kidnapped by a timber company in central Kalimantan but never gave up.

His group also helped villagers organize logging cooperatives to manage more than 200,000 hectares of forest.

Besides Ambrosius, a Bangladeshi lawyer who fought to keep old rusty ships from being dumped in her homeland is also among this year’s winners of the awards. Lawyer Syeda Rizwana Hasan waged court battles to stop ships decommissioned by wealthy nations from entering Bangladesh to be dismantled as scrap, unless they had been decontaminated at their origin. Thousands of poor workers, many of them children, work in dangerous conditions in the junk yards.

Another prize winner, Kulandei Francis of India, organized a group of poor women to create the Integrated Village Development Project in remote Krishnagiri district. The group organized savings and credit groups. 

Other winners include Filipino agricultural scientist Romulo Davide, whose research led to a product used to control pests attacking vegetables, fruits, rice and other crops.

Chen Shu-chu, who sells vegetables at a market stall in Taitung city, Taiwan, lives a frugal life — eating only two meals a day — enabling her to have given away seven million Taiwanese dollars (US$320,000) to various children’s charities. Inspiration for her unusual philanthropy came years before, when her schoolmates launched a fund to help pay for treatment for her sick brother.

From Cambodia, agriculturalist Yang Saing Koma, helped his country dramatically increase rice production by encouraging small farmers to shift to organic fertilizer.
The awards, to honor Asians who have changed society for the better, are named after a Filipino president who died in a plane crash in 1957. more...


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