PM Lee Hsien Loong to receive 2019 World Statesman Award by American interfaith group

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will be presented the 2019 World Statesman Award by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, a United States-based interfaith organisation, at their 54th annual awards dinner in New York on 23 September.

In a press release on Monday (15 April), the president and founder of the foundation, Rabbi Arthur Schneier said that PM Lee “will be recognised for fostering a society that embraces multiculturalism in which ethnic communities maintain their unique way of life while at the same time living harmoniously”.

PM Lee will also be recognised for “supporting a knowledge-based economy and an education system that provides its citizens with the necessary skills and knowledge to survive in a globally competitive environment and for implementing a renowned world-class health infrastructure,” he added.

PM Lee said in the statement: “It is my honour to accept the World Statesman Award. Singapore has embraced diversity and multiculturalism as fundamental ideals of our society. We strive to build a multi-racial, multi-lingual, and multi-religious society where people live peacefully and harmoniously together.

“Singapore shares the Appeal of Conscience Foundation’s vision of a world underpinned by human dignity and respect.”

A spokesperson for Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) told CNA that PM Lee is honoured to receive the award.

“The award recognises Singapore’s long-standing efforts to promote religious freedom and tolerance among our diverse ethnic and racial groups. PM Lee will accept the award in New York in September 2019,” the spokesperson added.

Founded in 1965, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation is an interfaith coalition of business and religious leaders who promote religious freedom, human rights, peace, tolerance and ethnic conflict resolution while seeking to uphold the principle of “live and let live”.

The coalition believes freedom, democracy and human rights are fundamental values that give countries around the world the best hope for peace, security and shared prosperity.

The World Statesman Award honours leaders who support peace and freedom by promoting tolerance, human dignity and human rights, championing these causes in their homeland and working with other world leaders to build a better future for all, according to the foundation’s website.

Previous World recipients of the award include former French President François Hollande in 2016, former British Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015, former Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in 2014 and former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2013.

The award that was granted to President Yudhoyono in 2013 by Rabbi Schneier, was considered highly controversial, as it “whitewash his legacy” such as his failure to protect religious minorities, resulting in the West Papua genocide and acts of intolerance to Ahmadiyah Muslims, Shi’ite Muslims, and Christians.

Over 10,000 signatures had been generated from around the world in petitions to withdraw the award.

Rights activist Hendardi from human rights watchdog the Setara Institute, alleged in 2013 that the award was the result of a public relations campaign mounted by Yudhoyono’€™s close aides who run operations abroad.

Jarkata post quoted him saying, “œSome members of his clique have approached the ACF regarding the award as part of a campaign to boost the president’€™s image in the global community before his term ends next year (2014),€”