Manila (AsiaNews) - A journalist known for her investigations into corruption in China, an environmental activist and a Pakistani Foundation working for the rights of women are among the winners of the annual edition of the Magsaysay Award, one of the continent's most important and often referred to as the "Nobel Prize of Asia".
The award is named in memory of former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay and since 1957 is awarded to those who "through their work have contributed to improving the society in which they live". Other recipients include the director of the National Museum of Afghanistan, an Indonesian anthropologist and a Filipino teacher. The names were announced yesterday.
The first Chinese to be awarded is Hu Shuli, 61, founder and editor of Caijing: the magazine, specializing in economic issues, has become known throughout the country for in-depth reports and investigations on members of the Party. According to the Foundation, which awards the prize, "her reports on illegal trading, government cover-up of the true extent of the 2003 Sars epidemic, and corporate fraud led to the ousting of high public officials, prosecution of business leaders, and stock market reforms".
The second Chinese winner is Wang Canfa, 55, founder of the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims. His structure has handled thousands of cases related to environmental protection and has won several times in court even against large corporations. In the explanatory memorandum accompanying his victory, the Foundation cites Wang: " As long as we persist, the goal of establishing Chinese environmental rule of law will be achieved someday."
The Foundation of the citizens, founded by a group of Pakistani industrialists, was also awarded. It was honored for "putting up schools that gave equal opportunities to girls in a country where education for women is anathema to some religious extremists".
Other recipients include: The Indonesian anthropologist Saur Marlina Manurung, 42, was cited for "her ennobling passion to protect and improve the lives of Indonesia's forest people" through jungle schools put up by her organisation": Omara Khan Masoudi, 66, "was honored for saving some of the museum's most precious objects from the "bombings, looting, and wilful destruction by the Taliban" insurgents of what they considered Afghanistan's non-Muslim heritage": finally Randy halasan, 31, "was recognised for teaching the children of the Matigsalug tribe in one of the remotest mountain villages in the Philippines."