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The Liberal International (LI) has awarded the 2011 Prize for Freedom to Dr Chee Soon Juan, Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party. This prestigious award is given to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the promotion of freedom and human rights.
Past laureates of the Prize include Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma’s democracy leader), Vaclav Havel (former president of the Czech Republic), and Mary Robinson (former president of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights).
LI, founded in 1947, is the world federation of liberal and progressive democratic political parties. It is the pre-eminent network for promoting liberalism, individual freedom, human rights, the rule of law, tolerance, equality of opportunity, social justice, free trade and a market economy.
In giving the award to Dr Chee LI states that “Dr Chee tirelessly advocates for democracy in Singapore, engaging civil society and campaigning for democracy and the right to speak freely. As a result of his work, the government has been forced to allow limited free speech through a ‘speaker’s corner’.”
The award was given at the 57th LI Congress held in Manila — the first in Asia. However, due to travel restrictions placed on Dr Chee by the Singapore government, he was unable to travel to London for the 187th Executive Committee of Liberal International in order to receive the award.
This being the case, LI President Hans Van Baalen will lead a delegation to present the Prize for Freedom to Dr Chee at a private ceremony on 3 November 2011. Officials from the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD), an affiliate of LI, will be part of the delegation.
This is the second award that Dr Chee has received. In 2003, the Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) gave Dr Chee the Defender of Democracy Award. The award presentation took place at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.
The PGA is an international network of legislators in 131 elected parliaments around the globe to promote peace, democracy, and the rule of law. Past recipients of the award include New Zealand’s former prime minister Helen Clarke and the late Kim Dae-jung, former president of South Korea.