Tue, Aug 02, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Thai senator, five others win Ramon Magsaysay awards


A Thai senator who champions the rights of the underprivileged and an Indonesian anti-corruption crusader lead the recipients of the 2005 Ramon Magsaysay Awards -- Asia's equivalent to the Noble Prize, organizers said yesterday.

Thai Senator Jon Ungphakorn was chosen as the awardee for government service for "his impassioned insistence as a senator that Thailand respect the rights and attend humanely to the needs of its least advantaged citizens."

The 58-year-old senator founded in 1980 the Thai Volunteer Service aimed at exposing university graduates to the rural poor and the non-government organizations working with them, according to the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF).

In 1991, he founded a foundation that provides counselling to people afflicted with the deadly AIDS virus and their families, as well as campaigning for affordable treatment.

Indonesian Teten Masduki, 42, will receive the award for public service for "challenging Indonesians to expose corruption and claim their right to clean government."

Indian V. Shanta is also being cited for the public service award category for his untiring advocacy for cancer research, the foundation said.

Other awardees are Bangladeshi Matiur Rahman for journalism, literature and creative communications arts for using the power of the press to crusade against "acid throwing" and South Korean Hye-Ran Yoon for emergent leadership for her "catalytic role" in promoting social responsibility. Laotian Sombath Somphone won the award for community leadership for training young people on sustainable development.

There was no awardee this year for the peace and international understanding category.

Lourdes Balbin, RMAF communications officer, said the board "did not find a suitable choice" for the category.

The winners will be honored in ceremonies in Manila on Aug. 31.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award was established in 1957.

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