Miri – SAVE Rivers, a Sarawak based movement, have won a Malaysian nationwide accolade for civil society organizations. The four years old organization which has been actively campaigning against the construction of mega dams in Sarawak was one of the three winners for 2015 Malaysian award.
Speaking at the award giving ceremony, Mr. Yap Swee Seng one of the panel of judges commented that the process in selecting the winners for this year’s award was long and hard in view of the unique and undisputable strength of each nominee. For this year’s award, eight nominees were selected, they included: Kuala Lumpur Tak Nak Incinerator Committee; Dapur Jalanan Kulala Lupmur; Gabungan Selamatkan Petani dan Penternak Negeri Perak; ENGAGE and ZUNA. The three selected winner are: SAVE Rivers; Maria Chin Abdullah a veteran activist and the Chairlady of Bersih 2.0 and Justice for Sisters, an organization which provides advocacy for the minority.
The annual award giving was held in Kuala Lumpur in conjunction with the International Human Rights Day on the 10th of December. The Civil Societies’ Award was founded by the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH). KLSCAH itself has a long history of active involvement and support for civil societies. Speaking at the function, Mr. Tan Hong Aik, the Deputy President of KLSCAH, said, “This award also serves as an evaluation for the overall performance of civil societies.” In acknowledging the function the importance of civil societies and NGOs, Mr. Tan reiterated the written objective of the award which is, “to encourage the communal organizations to be more open and be more proactive in the public affairs”.
Invited to the function to present a paper on “Minority Rights in the Constitution” was Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan, a prominent Malaysian Lawyer and human rights advocate, and one of the eight recipients of the US International Women of Courage Award in 2009. She formerly served as President of the Malaysian Bar Council from 2007 to 2009, and was former co-chairperson of Bersih, an NGO Coalition advocating for free and fair elections.
Receiving the award on behalf of SAVE Rivers was the Chairman, Mr. Peter Kallang. Commenting on the honor, Peter said, “While I rejoice for SAVE Rivers, at the same time I am really humbled by this award. I hope that this will trigger more enthusiasm and passion for championing human rights and protection of the environment by all Malaysians.” SAVE Rivers was formed in October 2011, commenting on this, Peter said, “With experience and bigger network, we want to be even more efficient in what we do.”