Tue, Aug 01, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Cambodian, S Korean among Magsaysay winners


The head of the Cambodian capital's water authority, a crusader for social justice in South Korea and a Filipino journalist and publisher are among winners of the 2006 Ramon Magsaysay Award.

The annual awards, Asia's version of the Nobel Prize, are named after Philippine president Ramon Magsaysay, who died in a plane crash in 1957.

Thie awards will be presented to six recipients at a ceremony in Manila on Aug. 31, the Magsaysay Foundation said yesterday.

Cambodian Ek Sonn Chan, 56, a survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime, was honored with the Magsaysay award for government service for "his exemplary rehabilitation of a ruined public utility, bringing safe drinking water to a million people" as head of the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority.

"Ek combed his bloated work force for the best and brightest and set them to work -- locating and repairing the system's myriad leaks, installing thousands of water meters, and closing hundreds of thousands of illegal connections," the organizers said in a statement.

In 1997, Ek's agency became an autonomous public enterprise, and supported by international loans, underwent a major overhaul.

South Korea's Park Won-soon, 50, head of The Beautiful Foundation and the Hope Institute, won the award for public service. Park was honored for "his principled activism fostering social justice, fair business practices, clean government, and a generous spirit in South Korea's young democracy."

Park challenged individuals and companies to donate 1 percent of their income or time as part of efforts to rekindle Korean generosity and popularize philanthropy. More than 26,000 people have responded.

Eugenia Duran Apostol, 81, a Philippine journalist and publisher, received the journalism, literature and creative communication arts award for "her courageous example in placing the truth-telling press at the center of the struggle for democratic rights and better government in the Philippines."

Nepal's Sanduk Ruit, 54, head of the Tilganga Eye Center, won the award for peace and international understanding for "placing Nepal at the forefront of developing safe, effective and economical procedures for cataract surgery, enabling the needlessly blind in even the poorest countries to see again."

Also being honored are Arvind Kejriwal, 38, head of India's Parivartan citizens' movement against corruption, and Antonio Meloto, 56, and his Gawad Kalinga Development Foundation in the Philippines, for community leadership.

Kejriwal was cited for "activating India's right-to-information movement at the grassroots, empowering New Delhi's poorest citizens to fight corruption by holding government answerable to the people."

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