By Howard Lee
Ten individuals and organisations who made major contributions to the growth of civil society in Singapore in the last three years were honoured today at the inaugural Singapore Advocacy Awards.
They were presented with a certificate and a contribution of S$1,000 towards their cause, in what is the first time that the work of civil society activists has being formally recognised and applauded in Singapore. The award ceremony took place at the Arts House.
The award recipients were:
- 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 film-makers
- Louis Ng – animal welfare advocate
- M Ravi – human rights lawyer
- Pink Dot – freedom to love movement
In addition, five of them were presented with a special token in recognition of their outstanding achievements.
Ms Braema Mathi and Mr Louis Ng were both named Advocates of the Year, All Things Bukit Brown was named Advocacy Organisation of the Year, and Ms Chan Li Shan and Mr Damien Chng were named Most Promising Advocates.
The judging panel was headed by arts educator and Cultural Medallion winner T Sasitharan. Other panel members include prominent names from the academic, arts, advocacy, professional and diplomatic circles – Dr Cherian George, Mr Richard Ho, Ms Faizah Jamal, Ms Sharon Siddique, Ms Constance Singam, Dr Wong Ting Hway, and Mr Geoffrey Yu.
“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. “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.”
The Singapore Advocacy Awards was organised by TWC3, a collective of civil society activists acting in their individual capacities. It was launched on 6 January 2014 to celebrate civil society advocacy and its achievements in Singapore, and to affirm the role of civil society activists in the shaping of our society.
The award organisers recognised that the recipients 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 in Singapore.
Members of the public were invited to nominate candidates for the awards. A total of 18 nominations were received.