Past Winners

The 3rd Winner



Ilham Taufiq, Chief of Strategy (Left)
Arip Tirta, President (Center)
Iqbal Muslimin, Chief of Sustainability (Right)


Evermos was founded by four co-founders. The central figure is President Arip Tirta. He grew up in Indonesia, received a master's degree from Stanford University in the U.S., and worked for a Silicon Valley investment firm from 2004. In the U.S., he experienced firsthand the IT boom that began in the 1990s, and has seen the growth of giant tech companies such as Amazon and Google since the dawn of time. He learned about the powerful influence of technology in changing people's lives in a short period of time.

After graduating from University Gadjah Mada in Indonesia, CEO Ghufron Mustaqim worked for a consulting firm and an e-commerce startup before joining Evermos as a co-founder. The four co-founders have shared an awareness of need to “change a situation in which logistics prevent small businesses from growing” since the company's inauguration. Just as technology has changed the way small and medium-sized businesses and individuals conduct commerce in the U.S., they want to encourage change in their home country.
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The 2nd Winner



The co-founder and CEO, Kristin Kagetsu, is from the United States and has roots in Japan. She originally had little contact with India, but a project she participated in while a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to develop crayons made of natural materials in India was a turning point for her. It was her first visit to India, and she was struck by the harsh reality of women's lives there. After graduating from MIT, she once worked for an IT company in the U.S., but left because she wanted to "solve people's most pressing problems. She came up with a business plan to support rural women in India through her business and came up with the idea of developing environmentally friendly sanitary products.

The co-founder, Chief Technology Officer Tarun Bothra, is from India, where he studied mechanical engineering at a local university and was involved in the family business of clothing and other products. As an Indian man, he had long been aware of the problems of restricted women's rights in the country. Initially, Bothra was just helping Kagetsu find founding members, but when he heard from Kagetsu about the current situation surrounding women's menstruation in India, he "learned anew the importance of sanitary products for women. His thoughts resonated with Kagetsu and she joined the establishment of Saathi.
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The 1st Winner


Shiok Meats co-founders CEO
Sandhya Sriram

Two women who were studying stem cells met as colleagues at Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (ASTAR), and they went on to found a food tech company to develop cultured seafood. They immediately succeeded in developing lab-grown shrimp, crab and lobster and are now working towards commercial production of these foods.
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Asia Prizes

Nikkei Asia Prize Winners (from 1996 to 2020)

Nikkei Asia Prizes, which are awarded each year, are designed to recognize outstanding achievements that contribute to the region’s sustainable development and to the creation of a better future for Asia.
*Titles given refer to the time of the prizes.

  • 25th Winners


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    • Economic and Business Innovation

      Ms. Tan Hooi Ling (left in left picture)
      Mr. Anthony Tan (right in left picture)

      Mr. Anthony Tan and Ms. Tan Hooi Ling hit it off while studying at Harvard University School of Business. After graduating, they launched a ride-hailing app, which also handles meals, grocery delivery and smartphone payments. The number of app downloads has exceeded 180 million, making it an indispensable app for the lives of citizens in Southeast Asia.

    • Science and Technology

      Dr. Thalappil Pradeep (center)

      Dr. Thalappil Pradeep is a pioneer in water purification using nanotechnology. He established a deionization method and developed the world's first filter for drinking water. It supplies purified water in India at a cost of 2 paisa (0.03 yen) per liter.

    • Culture and Community

      Mr. Ram Prasad Kadel (right)

      Mr. Ram Prasad Kadel has a strong sense of crisis about the disappearance of traditional music and performing arts in his own country, and is energetically developing activities for succession. He invested his own money to set up a musical instrument museum in Kathmandu. He has achieved results in the study, record preservation and dissemination of traditional music.

  • 24th Winners


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    • Economic and Business Innovation

      Mr. Nadiem Makarim (left)

      Mr. Nadiem Makarim, Founder & CEO, GOJEK Group, Indonesia, started a motorcycle dispatch service using smartphones. GOJEK also provides home delivery and electronic money services, which greatly improved citizens' lives and contributed to job creation.

    • Science and Technology

      Dr. I Chiu Liao (center)

      Dr. I Chiu Liao, Lifetime Distinguished Professor, Taiwan Ocean University, Taiwan, succeeded in artificial production of the black tiger shrimp seedling for the first time in the world. This achievement has been a milestone in the development of the shrimp aquaculture industry in Southeast Asia.

    • Culture and Community

      Cinemalaya Foundation Inc. (presented at the awards ceremony by Chairman of the Board, Mr.Antonio O. Cojuangco = photo) (right)

      Cinemalaya Foundation Inc. Philippines, founded the country's first large-scale digital film festival. Many talents were discovered through its selection system which focuses on planning and scenario.

  • 23rd Winners


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    • Economic and Business Innovation

      Mr. Ma Jun (center)

      Mr. Ma Jun, Founding Director, Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE), China, contributes to reducing pollution by promoting the disclosure of environmental information.

    • Science and Technology

      Professor Nguyen Thanh Liem (left)

      Professor Nguyen Thanh Liem, Director, Vinmec Research Institute of Stem cell and Gene Technology, Vietnam, has saved many children’s lives by developing the field of endoscopic pediatric surgery and transplantation.

    • Culture and Community

      Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak (right)

      Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, Founder, Sulabh International Social Service Organisation, India, has promoted human rights and improved public health by creating innovative toilets.

  • 22nd Winners


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    • Economic and Business Innovation

      Mr. Nandan Nilekani (left)

      Mr. Nandan Nilekani, Former Chairman, Unique Identification Authority of India, led the development of Aadhaar, the world's largest biometric ID database.

    • Science and Technology

      Dr. Michael Ming-Chiao Lai (center)

      Dr. Michael Ming-Chiao Lai, Distinguished Research Fellow, Academia Sinica Taiwan, is a leading expert on coronaviruses and contributed to stop the SARS epidemic in Asia.

    • Culture and Community

      Edhi Foundation (to be presented at the awards ceremony by Managing Trustee, Mr.Faisal Edhi = photo) (right)

      Edhi Foundation, Pakistan, provides a wide range of welfare services such as the free ambulance service to the underprivileged without any discrimination.

  • 21st Winners


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    • Economic and Business Innovation

      The Akshaya Patra Foundation (center)

      The Akshaya Patra Foundation provides free daily lunches to 1.5 million schoolchildren in India and motivated the government to make school lunches compulsory, helping to ensure kids can focus on their studies rather than their empty stomachs.

    • Science and Technology

      Dr. Jiang Lei (right)

      Dr. Jiang Lei, Professor of Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Science has paved the way for materials that mimic features of living organisms. The professor's findings have drawn worldwide attention and are opening doors to industrial innovation.

    • Culture and Community

      Mr. Dogmid Sosorbaram (left)

      Mr. Dogmid Sosorbaram, a Mongolian actor and singer, helped usher his country toward democracy through art.

  • 20th Winners


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    • Economic and Business Innovation

      Mrs. Mai Kieu Lien (center)

      Mrs. Mai Kieu Lien, Chairwoman and CEO of Vinamilk pioneered Vietnam's dairy product market and built Vinamilk into a leading force in the domestic industry.

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      Mrs. Mai Kieu Lien (center)

      Speech text


      Mr. Naotoshi Okada − President and General Director of Nikkei, Japan.
      Delegates and distinguished guests
      Representatives from the media and press agencies

      Ladies and gentlemen,
      First of all, I would like to give my most respectful greetings to all the participants attending the 20th Nikkei Asia Prize Award Ceremony today.
      I was really surprised and quite emotional when Nikkei informed me that I am one of three Asian candidates to have achieved this prestigious award. This is a great honor not only for me but also the more than 5000 Vinamilk officers and employees who have been making ceaseless efforts for the future development of Vietnam and Asia.

      Such devotion must have been recognized by Nikkei and the international community. Both Vinamilk and I will be greatly motivated and more determined to carry out the mission of becoming Vietnam’s No.1 symbol of the belief in nutritional and healthy products that serve human life.

      Over its 40 years of development, from a state-owned enterprise founded in 1976, equitized in 2003, and listed on the stock market in early 2006, Vinamilk has grown rapidly and sustainably over 11 years of its equitization with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22% per year in terms of revenues and profits. This has helped changing the image of Vietnam's dairy industry, promoting Vietnam’s national brand, and gradually expanding it regionally and globally to play its role in the development of Vietnam, creating a promising future for Asia as set out under the goals of the Nikkei Asia Prize.

      I would like to donate all the awarded amount of JPY3 million through the United Nations Children's Fund?? (UNICEF) in Japan to children in Nepal suffering from the unprecedented earthquake. It is my personal desire as well as Vinamilk’s business culture to do our best for a better future for children in Vietnam and around the world.

      My sincere thanks also go to Nikkei and the jury members of the Nikkei Asia Prize for giving me the opportunity to be here at today’s ceremony. Thank all the Japanese, Vietnamese and international press agencies for your interest in this special event.

      I wish all of you good health, happiness, and success.
      I wish an increasingly prosperous future for Asia.
      Thank you very much.


    • Science, Technology and Environment

      Dr. Wang Yifang (right)

      Dr. Wang Yifang, director of the Institute of High Energy Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, lead an experiment aimed at solving one of the last remaining mysteries about neutrinos, a type of subatomic particle.

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      Dr. Wang Yifang (right)

      Speech text

      Ladies and gentlemen,

      It is my great honor to receive the Nikkei Asia prize for science and technology. I would like to take this opportunity to thank NIKKEI for establishing such a prestigious prize and to the selection committee to recognize our achievements. I would also like to thank my 200+ colleagues of the Daya Bay experiment from 6 countries and regions and 40 institutions. In particular, I would like to thank Prof.s Jun Cao and Kam-Biu Luk, they made great contributions to this experiment and they are real heroes. I would also like to thank my family and in particular my wife, who sacrificed a lot in the past years to support my research activities.

      My work is about fundamental particles. We now understand that our world is made up by only 12 types of elementary particles. Among them, three are neutrinos. You can immediately realize that how important and fundamental neutrinos are. Indeed, neutrinos are responsible for the formation and evolution of our Universe. It is at this country, Japan, neutrinos are found to have a peculiar property: neutrino oscillation. Namely, one type of neutrinos can change to another type during their flight. This discovery by the SuperKamiokande experiment in 1998, often called atmospheric neutrino oscillation, revealed a fundamental parameter of physics, called theta-23. This parameter describes neutrino transformation from one type to another. Prof. Koshiba was awarded the Noble prize for this great achievement. In addition, solar neutrino oscillation, represented by theta-12, is known through a major contribution by an experiment again in Japan, KamLAND. I actually had the honor to be part of this experiment, and got to know a lot of Japanese colleagues, including Prof. Atsuto Suzuki, the former spokesperson of KamLAND and the former director general of KEK.

      For three types of neutrinos, you can have three ways of neutrino oscillation, described by these three parameters. So there is one more parameter, theta-13, yet to be known. One of the best ways to measure theta-13 is to use reactor neutrinos. We proposed such an experiment near the Daya Bay nuclear power plant in the south of China, and we managed to secure funding from Chinese government and afterwards, from the US government, and those of other countries and regions. Daya Bay experiment thus has become a real large international collaboration. We designed the experiment with a factor of 10 better the precision than previous experiments, and a factor of more than 3 better than our competitors in the world. This high precision turns out to be a key to win the race to measure theta-13.

      The experiment was proposed in 2003, approved in 2007 and the construction lasted 4 years. In these 4 years, we built a 3 km long underground tunnel, 5 underground experimental halls, 8 neutrino detectors located in three water pools, together with custom-built readout electronics, a data acquisition system span over kilometers and a large analysis software package. In the Christmas eve of 2011, our detector began to operate and our first physics result was announced on March 8, 2012, only two and a half months from the operation of the experiment. For the first time, we concluded with a very high confidence level, that a new type of neutrino oscillation represented by theta-13, does exist. Although there were indications of non-zero theta-13 from other experiments, including the T2K experiment in Japan, this result still shocked the community since it came unexpectedly fast, the theta-13 value is surprisingly large, and the result from us was so precise. We are very proud of this great team, in particular many young staffs who worked on this experiment day and night tirelessly. On the other hand, this experiment couldn’t have been a success without tremendous support from local governments and the power plant.

      Now we are working on a next generation neutrino experiment in China. The new international collaboration, called JUNO has been established with -60 institutions from 10 countries. This detector is designed to be 20 times larger than that of KamLAND, the largest liquid scintillator detector in the world. It has a size similar to that of water-based SuperKamiokande, and can measure the neutrino mass hierarchy. In addition, it can determine neutrino oscillation parameters to a level better than 1%, and study supernova neutrinos, geoneutrinos, solar neutrinos, and etc.

      Of course all of the efforts cannot be made possible without supports from the governments. In particular, we are extremely happy that China can play a major role in fundamental science. You may all know that China had experienced a lot of tragedies in the past 200 years, and it is only now that we can think about making contributions to the mankind on earth. Basic science can not only bring us a lot of hopes for technology revolution and for a better life, but it can also bring us a better cooperative world. In particular, physical science has grown to such a large scale that international collaboration becomes a must. The European Center for Particle Physics, often known as CERN, is a great example. This center invented World-Wide-Web, which is now an essential of our lives. This center recently discovered the “god particle” ? Higgs, which completed our understanding of particle physics by a Standard Theory. This center actually helped Europe to recover from the world war II. I must say that we are now also facing great opportunities. Japanese physicists hope that the International Linear Collider will be built in Japan. I really hope that this effort can be strongly supported by Japanese people and the Japanese government. Asia can play a much bigger role on science, since we have the necessary scale of economy and we have plenty of brilliant people. We urge all the governments in Asia to promote more on science, in a way corresponding to its scale of economy and population.

      I would like to thank Nikkei to promote science in Asia and I hope that more people will join us to support science. It will bring to us a better world.


    • Culture and Community

      Asian Youth Orchestra (left)

      Asian Youth Orchestra, Hong Kong, gathers 100 young musicians from across the region and gives them the opportunity to perform around the globe. The project promotes friendship and understanding through the common language of music.

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      Asian Youth Orchestra (left)

      Speech text

      Thank you.

      What an extraordinary honor this award bestows on the Asian Youth Orchestra. I only wish it were possible for all 104 members of this year’s AYO to be here today.

      The Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture and Community is their award. Belonging to each of them and the more than 2,000 Asian Youth Orchestra members who have gone before them over the past 25 years. Not to mention the many Asian CEOs, corporations and individuals who have supported us all these years; Tony Kobayashi at Fuji Xerox, Shoichi Asaji at Nihon Building Service, Sumitomo Mitsui Bank and YKK to name just a few here in Japan.

      This year the Nikkei Asia Prizes celebrates its 20th year. At AYO, this year marks our 25th year, and yet it seems only yesterday that my dear friend, the legendary violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin, walked onstage in Kumamoto Japan as music director of the Asian Youth Orchestra to conduct our first concerts.

      Some of you may know that Lord Menuhin was the first international artist to come to Japan to perform after world war two. In fact he performed in the Hibiya Kokaido, just across the street.

      Time passes. Many of today’s AYOers were not even born when we started in 1990.

      It’s amazing how we’ve managed, given the cultural, political and economic tensions that have come and gone over these many years.

      100 or more young musicians, ranging in age from 17 to 27, each selected through competitive auditions held in 11 cities across Asia, close to a thousand candidates trying out each year, a staggering 22,000 applicants over the years, the successful 100 each year winning full scholarship opportunities for three weeks of study with master professionals from the great orchestras of the world − the Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, Minnesota and San Francisco symphony orchestras, the Bergamo Italy Festival Orchestra, Milan’s La Scala Opera, the Vienna Volksoper, Brussels’ Monnaie Opera, the Triple Helix Trio and the Boston and Peabody music conservatories − these intense weeks of study and rehearsal capped by three weeks on tour performing in the great concert halls of the world.

      Since its inaugural performances in 1990, this award-winning Orchestra has played some 366 concerts in Asia, Europe, the United States and Australia to an audience of more than one million concertgoers. Millions more have seen and heard the orchestra around the world on CNN, CNBC, NHK and Radio and Television Hong Kong.

      2010 recipient of Japan’s prestigious Praemium Imperiale Grant for Young Artists, the Asian Youth Orchestra has played more concerts in more cities in China than any other orchestra based outside the mainland.

      AYO was the first international orchestra in 50 years to perform in Vietnam. The Orchestra premiered Academy Award-winning composer Tan Dun’s Symphony 1997 with cellist Yo- Yo Ma marking the territory’s reunification with China. The Orchestra has performed in the White House, at the United Nations, in New York’s Avery Fisher Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Berlin’s Shauspielhaus, Sydney’s Opera House, and just about every major concert hall across Japan and Southeast Asia.

      Lord Menuhin would be so very proud of what AYO has achieved and the role that this orchestra has played in the personal and professional lives of hundreds upon hundreds of wonderful young Asian musicians, and the prestige that comes with this Nikkei Prize.

      It struck me when I was preparing these remarks that there are many ways to express our appreciation to the Nikkei Prizes committee, but as a youth orchestra, perhaps there are none better than through the words of our AYO members. Please allow me to let them speak:

      “Today is September 4th. Five days have passed since the last day of AYO 2014. I did not write earlier, because in the first days when I got back home, I still somehow could not face the truth that, it is over.

      "Flashback to the old years. I first listened to AYO concerts in 2011. Stefan Jackiw was the violin soloist. At first, I did not really care about the orchestra, just going because of the soloist. But after the concerts, for the first time of my life, I felt so impressed by an orchestra! I had to tell right then to my mother, 'Oh, imagine how it would be if I could play in that orchestra! I wish someday I can be there with them…'

      "Time passed. After two years my teacher encouraged me to take the audition. I didn’t do well, and failed the scholarship. And that year, when AYO had concerts again in Hanoi, I listened with so many tears on my face, because I realized that I wanted to be a part of that wonderful sound so bad that I could not forgive myself for failing the opportunity.

      "And this year. So much pressure on my shoulders, not because of my parents and teachers, not because I am afraid of failing. The reason is, I am afraid I will never be able to play in AYO, live a life that is full of music − great, great music.

      "But I made it! I expected for such a nice time ahead, I could feel something so, so different waiting for me. And actually, it was even more than I expected.

      "All that time, six weeks living with music, AYO has digged into the deepest corner of my heart, and I could see exactly how much more I want to be a musician, a violinist. It opened such a deeper and wider way of feeling the music! Thank you so much. AYO has taught me so many things about music and orchestra playing that no one told me before.

      "And, AYO has given me many friends from such far corners of east and southeast Asia, with many different cultures, different languages, but having the same passion for music. We have built beautiful friendships, shared a lot of things together, and they have given me inspiration in playing music too.

      "Many thanks to general manager Mr. Lau, with Mr. Peterson and the stage team who took care for all of us, gave us such security that I am highly appreciated.

      "And again, thank you Mr. Pontzious. Thank you so much for making for all of us a dream come true that we can hardly imagine before. It means so much for me, my family, my school and my country. And just for me, AYO gave me many laughs, tears, excitement, exhaustion, nervousness, happiness, surprises… because of everything.

      "Thank you AYO! I will never forget!

      "Hoang Ho Khanh Van, Vietnam"

      Mr. Pontzious, “When I went to AYO I didn’t know how I would communicate with my teacher or my fellow orchestra members. But at the Rehearsal Camp Opening Ceremony, when we all played Elgar’s Nimrod, I knew for the first time in my life that I could communicate through music, and through my trombone. Thanks to your big efforts, I have the most precious moments in AYO.” Takahiro Ono, Japan.

      Mr. Pontzious, “you have changed the life of every AYO member. The AYO experience has given us the chance to work with world-class musicians, to perform with fellow musicians who are now making a mark in their respective countries, and to make wonderful music. I am forever grateful.” Gina Medina-Perez, Philippines.

      “AYO made my dream come true. It changed my life and my world. It influenced not only my playing but also my life. The influence is deep and unlimited. Thank you very much for your chance. I will never forget it.” Clement Wong, Singapore.

      Mr. Pontzious, “I appreciate everything that AYO gave me. Incredible and unforgettable experiences. It was really a precious time in my life. I won't forget the memories of 2008-2010 summer.” Kim Ji Hyun, Korea.

      And now this precious Nikkei Asia Prize, recognizing AYO not only for the music we make, but our work as cultural ambassadors across East and Southeast Asia, as well, acknowledging the power of music, the power of friendships and the power of pride in mutual achievement.

      On behalf of everyone associated with the Asian Youth Orchestra, thank you, members of the Nikkei Asia Prizes committee, for putting the spotlight on our AYO.


  • 19th Winners


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    • Economic and Business Innovation

      Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty (right)

      Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty, a renowned cardiac surgeon and an entrepreneur received the award for his efforts to provide cutting- edge health care for millions of low-income people in India by driving down costs of hospital management and by creating an affordable insurance system for the poor. Dr. Shetty’s business model offers insight for developed countries that are struggling with high rising medical costs.

    • Science, Technology and Environment

      Dr. George Fu Gao (left)

      Dr. George Fu Gao is a worldwide leader analyzing enveloped viruses such as avian influenza virus. He presents mechanism of infection which leads to infection control to the world. He quickly analyzed the avian influenza virus of H7N9 subtype that occurred suddenly in 2013. He is a leader of research and prevention of infectious disease in China.

    • Culture and Community

      The Mae Fah Luang Foundation under Royal Patronage (center)

      The Mae Fah Luang Foundation under Royal Patronage’s Doi Tung Development Project changed the desolate lives of about 10000 residents depended mainly on opium growing and trading into legitimate self-reliant people by means of creating livelihood options and capacity building. This successful model is now applied across Thailand and in Myanmar, Indonesia, and Afghanistan.

  • 18th Winners


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    • Regional Growth

      Mr. Truong Gia Binh (left)

      Mr. Truong Gia Binh, the chairman and CEO of FPT Corp., the largest information technology company in Vietnam, received the award in the category of regional growth. He not only contributed to the development of his own company but also to the development of IT business in Vietnam. He set up a software industry organization and a university to foster IT experts.

    • Science, Technology and Innovation

      Dr. Tejraj Aminabhavi (right)

      Dr. Tejraj Aminabhavi, the professor emeritus at Soniya Education Trust's College of Pharmacy, received the award for his contributions in the area of applied polymer science in the science, technology and innovation category. His contributions on molecular transport, separation, drug and pesticide delivery and other fields have led to a number of practical applications in the chemical industry and medicine.

    • Culture

      Dr. Vann Molyvann (center)

      Dr. Vann Molyvann, a Cambodian architect, won the culture prize. He built such famous landmarks as Olympic Stadium and Independence Monument. His buildings are uniquely designed with a mix of modern and traditional Cambodian elements. Under the rapid development of Phnom Penh, his buildings are in danger of being demolished.

  • 17th Winners


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    • Regional Growth

      Mr. Yang Yong (left)

      Mr. Yang Yong, environmental activist, is the winner in the regional growth category. He has studied ecosystems and water quality along China's Yangtze River for more than 20 years, working to strengthen environmental conservation in the country.

    • Science, Technology and Innovation

      Dr. Chi-Huey Wong (center)

      Dr. Chi-Huey Wong, is the winner in the science, technology and innovation category. He is the president of Taiwan's Academia Sinica and a leading researcher in the field of glycochemistry. His work has opened the way for the development of new vaccines and medicines.

    • Culture

      Ms. Sybil Wettasinghe (right)

      Ms. Sybil Wettasinghe, a Sri Lankan writer and illustrator of children's books, is the recipient in the culture category. Her works, which draw upon Sri Lanka's cultural diversity and natural beauty, have been translated overseas and are loved by children around the world.

  • 16th Winners


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    • Regional Growth

      Mr. Antonio Meloto (center)

      Mr. Antonio Meloto, Chairman of Gawad Kalinga, the Philippines, received the award for his commitment to improving the living conditions of the poor. He has made life better for residents in slum areas by constructing more than 200,000 homes in 2,000 communities in the Philippines and in other developing countries such as Indonesia, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea.

    • Science, Technology and Innovation

      Dr. Wu Maw-Kuen (left)

      Dr. Wu Maw-Kuen, Director of Institute of Physics, Academia Sinica, Taiwan received the award in honor of his achievement of many results in the area of superconductivity research, such as the discovery of a substance that has an electrical resistance of zero even at a high temperature of minus 200 degrees Celsius. He has also contributed greatly to advancement of science and technology in Taiwan.

    • Culture

      Mr. Bao Ninh, Vietnamese novelist (right)

      Mr. Bao Ninh, Vietnamese novelist, won the culture prize. He authored the novel "The Sorrow of War," a story based on his military service experience. He popularized Doi Moi (renovation) literature both at home and abroad.

  • 15th Winners


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    • Regional Growth

      Mr. Tony Fernandes (center)

      Mr. Tony Fernandes, Group CEO of AirAsia Bhd, Malaysia, received the award for his achievements in remaking the company into one of the most successful international airlines in Southeast Asia despite the recent economic slowdown of the airline industry. Under his leadership, the company revolutionized the air travel industry in the region by pioneering the discount carrier phenomenon. As a result, air travel became widely available for lower- and middle-income earners who had to spend long hours on trains and busses to travel in the region.

    • Science, Technology and Innovation

      Dr. Chen Ding-shinn (left)

      Dr. Chen Ding-shinn, Distinguished Chair Professor of Taiwan University College of Medicine & Taiwan University Hospital received the award in honor of his accomplishment in discovering the link between the hepatitis B virus and liver cancer. His prizeworthy contribution in creating a public health program in Taiwan more than 20 years ago that has vaccinated nearly all newborns there against hepatitis B, drastically reduced the incidence of liver cancer.

    • Culture

      Mr. Manteb Soedharsono (right)

      Mr. Manteb Soedharsono, a "legendary" performer of the traditional Indonesian shadow puppet art of Wayang won the culture prize in honor of his activities delighting audiences around the world with performances full of originality for example, ones that blend the time- honored tools of his trade with modern music or that last for 24 consecutive hours.

  • 14th Winners


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    • Regional Growth

      Ms. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (center)

      Ms. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairman of Biocon Limited, India, received the award for her achievements in establishing a business model that promotes innovation and intellectual excellence in the Indian pharmaceutical industry which has relied on both patent- expired as well as novel drugs. She is also regarded as a pioneering biotech entrepreneur in India.

    • Science, Technology and Innovation

      Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) (Director-General, Dr. Abdul Latif Mohmod = left)

      Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), a leading institution in tropical forestry research in the region received the award in honor of its contribution as a leading institution in tropical forestry research in the region, with a 900 member workforce (200 researchers). Its main functions include the study of biodiversity for the sustainable use of natural resources, for the development of new products and for the conservation of forests.

    • Culture

      Dr. Laretna T. Adishakti (right)

      Dr. Laretna T. Adishakti, Lecturer, Architect, and Heritage Activist of Indonesia, won the culture prize in honor of her activity spearheading a campaign to protect the city of Yogyakarta, the cultural heart of Java. She insists that local inhabitants should take action in protecting and utilizing their heritage.

  • 13rd Winners


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    • Regional Growth

      The Center of Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims in China at China University of Political Science and Law (Director, Mr. Wang Canfa = center)

      The Center of Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims in China at China University of Political Science and Law, received the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth for his efforts to promote public awareness of the environment, law-abiding spirit, and to supervise the proper enforcement of environmental laws by supporting legal actions by pollution victims.

    • Science, Technology and Innovation

      Dr. C.N.R. Rao (right)

      Dr. C.N.R. Rao, National Research Professor and Honorary President & Linus Pauling Research Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, received the Nikkei Asia Prize for Science, Technology and Innovation in honor of his contribution to solid state chemistry and spectroscopy by writing 1,500 publications. And as a chairperson on the Science Advisory Board of India under five prime ministers, he has contributed to policies for science and technology in India.

    • Culture

      Mr. Ahn Sung-ki (left)

      Mr. Ahn Sung-ki, South Korean film actor, won the Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture in honor of his activity as a cultural custodian and spokesperson of South Korean film culture on behalf of the entire film industry, and of his leadership in international co-productions involving Japan, China, South Korea.

  • 12nd Winners


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    • Regional Growth

      Mr. Mechai Viravaidya (right)

      Mr. Mechai Viravaidya, chairman of the Population and Community Development Association (PDA), a Thai NGO, received the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth for his efforts to bridge the gap between poor farm villagers and rich city dwellers in Thailand.

    • Science, Technology and Innovation

      Mr. Chang Chun-yen (left)

      Mr. Chang Chun-yen, president emeritus of Taiwan's Chiao Tung University, received the Nikkei Asia Prize for Science, Technology and Innovation in honor of his strong leadership in Taiwan's semiconductor industry.

    • Culture

      Mr. Gopal Venu (center)

      Mr. Gopal Venu, director of India's Natanakairali Research and Performing Center for Traditional Arts, won the Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture for his contributions to the preservation and revitalization of Kutiyattam, the oldest surviving Sanskrit theater tradition in India.

  • 11st Winners


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    • Regional Growth

      Ms. Olivia Lum (right)

      Ms. Olivia Lum, CEO and President of Singapore's Hyflux Group, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth for her firm's development of the advanced NEWater system, which purifies waste water for drinking or industrial use.

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      Ms. Olivia Lum (right)

      'Water Queen' crowned for treatment business

      Known in Singapore as the "Water Queen," Olivia Lum has built a water-treatment company that lives up to her nickname.

      From its humble beginnings with three employees, the company that Lum established in 1989 has grown into Hyflux Group, which is listed on the Stock Exchange of Singapore and has turned 45-year-old Lum into one of the wealthiest people in Asia.

      Hyflux is involved in the reuse of wastewater and the desalination of seawater for drinking and industrial use. It now operates not only in Singapore, but also in places like China and the Middle East, where water resources are limited.

      Hyflux was ahead of the curve in developing a business around water supply concerns, and it probably owes part of that to Singapore's anguish over its reliance on Malaysia for its water needs.

      The company came into the spotlight in 2001, when it received an order from the Singaporean government to build and operate the first of its NEWater plants to treat wastewater.

      NEWater system

      The Hyflux NEWater system uses a combination of microfilters and reverse osmosis membranes to filter the water, ultraviolet radiation to sterilize it, and other technologies to remove microbes and minerals.

      In 2005, Hyflux began operations in Singapore of the largest desalinization plant in Asia to turn seawater into drinking water. This desalinization plant and the NEWater systems combined now supply Singapore with around 40% of its water.

      Lum first got the idea of a water treatment business when she was working for a drug company after graduating from the National University of Singapore. The firm treated its wastewater, but it was still dirty and was just being poured away, Lum said. She was certain that a business could be developed around cleaning the wastewater for reuse.

      Lum sold her house and car to raise funds for the business' launch. When the company started in 1989 there were just three employees, and they worked to sell products like filters.

      However, Lum soon shifted the center of focus to technological R&D and poured her efforts into the development of filtering devices, osmosis membranes and related technologies.

      Hyflux listed on the Singapore bourse in 2001. By last year, the group had grown to around 700 employees and annual sales had reached S$131.5 million (US$83.4 million) - up 48% on the previous year.

      In its branching out to other parts of the world, one recent accomplishment was the signing of 30-year contracts to operate water treatment plants to supply drinking and industrial water for two cities in China.

      In 2003, a regional women's magazine honored Lum as Woman of the Year. In 2005, Forbes Asia listed her as the 39th richest person in Asia.


    • Science, Technology and Innovation

      Mr. Philip Yeo (left)

      Mr. Philip Yeo, chairman of the Singapore Agency for Science, Technology and Research, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Science, Technology and Innovation in honor of his strong leadership in drafting and implementing Singapore's science and technology strategy, particularly in biomedical sciences.

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      Mr. Philip Yeo (left)

      A*STAR burns brightly thanks to active leader

      With a background in engineering and business administration, Philip Yeo admits he is no scientist. But the chairman of Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is much more than simply a bureaucrat.

      Yeo says he holds discussions with scientists frequently as part of his work, and some of that knowledge sticks.

      These are humble words from the 59-year-old man who has helped build the foundations for science and technology in Singapore.

      Yeo served as the first chairman of Singapore's National Computer Board from 1981 to 1987, where he worked to nurture the nation's industries for hard-disk drives and other equipment.

      In 2001, Yeo took over the leadership of A*STAR, at which he has simply been "building, reading and recruiting."

      Biopolis attracts talent

      This is more plain talk from a man who has managed to attract top scientists to Singapore by building the kinds of facilities and other infrastructure that serve as fertile ground for cutting-edge research in the life sciences. An example of that infrastructure is Biopolis, a complex home to six research institutes.

      Yeo has gone around the world looking for excellent scientists to bring the Biopolis to life. He reads scientific articles every day in search of researchers who he thinks would be a good fit. Of the several hundred researchers at the Biopolis, more than half are from places other than Singapore, including around 10 from Japan.

      Recruiting efforts have begun to bear fruit, with groups from Biopolis reporting globally significant results in fields like genome research and the extraction of stem cells from human embryos.

      Yeo said his hope is that the research results will help improve people's lives. By way of example, Yeo noted the burden that falls on a family when they must take care of a breadwinner who has fallen ill and can no longer earn a living.

      Bioscience and pharmaceuticals that can solve those kinds of problems will become the next big industry, Yeo predicted. In this regard, the nurturing of a drug industry in Singapore is now on the chairman's radar.


    • Culture

      Ms. Sophiline Cheam Shapiro (center)

      Ms. Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, a Cambodian choreographer and dancer, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture in honor of her outstanding role in restoring the nation's classical dance tradition.

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      Ms. Sophiline Cheam Shapiro (center)

      Survivor saving art of Cambodian dance

      Cambodian classical dance dates back more than a thousand years, yet it was almost completely wiped out in just a few decades under the Khmer Rouge.

      Even Pol Pot could not snuff out all embers of hope, however, and Sophiline Cheam Shapiro has been instrumental in nurturing Cambodian classical dance back to life. In the process, the 38-year-old master of Cambodian classical dance has also found a way of melding the tradition with biting social commentary.

      Recognized by UNESCO in 2003 as an intangible cultural heritage, Cambodian classical dance features dancers with elaborate gold costumes, who turn and twist their arms and legs with deliberate and unhurried movements.

      What makes Shapiro's work so special is the way she introduces creativity into the ancient art, and how she uses it to encourage social change in Cambodia. She said it is possible to adopt Cambodian classical dance to express any social issue, such as the discrimination suffered by women and the difficulty of passing history on to the next generation.

      More than 1 million Cambodians were killed during Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot's reign of terror. Cambodian classical dance was prohibited and nearly all dancers were executed.

      Shapiro was 8 years old when the Khmer Rouge seized power and forced her family to leave Phnom Penh. She remembers pushing their possessions stacked high on a cart and sleeping on a plastic tarp at night. She also remembers how her father fell ill and breathed his last amid pangs of hunger. These memories are still clear in her mind and serve as a source of creativity.

      Having survived the experience, Shapiro was among the first to enroll when the Royal University of Fine Arts reopened in 1981. She later became a teacher at the same university, and it was there in 1990 that she met the visiting American who became her husband. The couple moved to the U.S. and Shapiro launched the study of dance ethnology at the University of California.

      Khmer Rouge attacked

      Shapiro's first major work was "Samritechak," a dance adaptation of Shakespeare's "Othello." The piece gained attention not only because of the way it fused Western and Eastern cultures, but also because she used the dance to level sharp criticism at the Khmer Rouge leadership for refusing to face the past and admit their crimes.

      In 2002, Shapiro opened the Khmer Arts Academy in Long Beach, California, where she teaches classical dance to the area's many Cambodian emigrants.


  • 10th Winners


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    • Regional Growth

      Dr. Morris Chang (center)

      Chairman and CEO of the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), Taiwan, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth in honor of his outstanding role in establishing the pure foundry business model. TSMC currently holds approximately 50% of the world-wide pure foundry market, and is now the world 8th largest semiconductor company.

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      Dr. Morris Chang (center)

      Father of Taiwan's chip, foundry businesses

      Industry people invariably say that Taiwan's semiconductor industry would not be what it is today if not for Morris Chang.

      Chang, 73, spent his boyhood in mainland China, when it was in the throes of war against Japan and the fighting between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party. A stay-at-home bookworm due to frail health, he read the Analects of Confucius and the Book of Mencius when he was still a primary school student. Though he aspired to become a writer, Chang gave up the dream after his father admonished him for it, saying he would never make a living in a literary career. He later entered university in Shanghai, but the fierce battles raging in China forced him to leave after only two months. He then went on to major in mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the U.S.

      After finishing his studies at MIT, Chang began working at the semiconductor division of a midsize electronics maker in 1955, just seven years after the invention of the transistor. At the time, Chang had barely heard the word semiconductor but he steeped himself in the subject to the point that he became able to write academic papers about it.

      Overseas success

      Chang went on to work for Texas Instruments Inc., where he was recognized for improving yield at its factories to handle a major order from IBM Corp. and later appointed group vice president.

      He then moved to Taiwan to become the head of Industrial Technology Research Institute, Taiwan's public research body. In 1987, Chang founded Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) in cooperation with the Taiwanese authority as he sought to realize his grandiose dream of turning technology into economic value to benefit the island's industry as a whole.

      Chang's biggest achievement was his establishment of a new business model, that of the chip foundry, a firm that produces microchips on behalf of other companies. Chip factories cost as much as 100 billion yen ($935 million) to start up and chipmakers have to cope with the lightning speed of technological change. By the early 1990s, this harsh business environment prompted many microchip start-ups in Silicon Valley in the U.S. to outsource manufacturing to TSMC.

      Other chipmakers followed the company and cropped up at the Hsinchu Science-Based Industrial Park in northern Taiwan. Taiwan manufacturers now account for about 20% of global microchip output. Technical expertise developed by the chip industry was diverted to Taiwan's liquid-crystal display panel industry in the later 1990s, and Taiwan now controls about 40% of the global market.

      While at TI, Chang oversaw the construction of a plant in Japan, and in autumn 2004 a TSMC factory came on stream in Shanghai.

      Looking back, Chang said, "Asia would have never prospered the way it did without the semiconductor industry's impressive growth."


    • Science, Technology and Innovation

      Prof. Ko Myoung Sam (right)

      Professor Emeritus of Seoul National University, South Korea, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Science, Technology and Innovation in honor of his outstanding role in founding the development of production lines in South Korea's semiconductor and electrical appliance industries, which now hold significant shares of the world market.

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      Prof. Ko Myoung Sam (right)

      Home-grown robots elevate industry to new heights

      Ko Myoung-sam, a researcher in control and instrumentation engineering, has helped propel South Korea to the front ranks of world industry through his pioneering role in factory automation.

      Hamheung, now in North Korea, was a major industrial city when Ko was born there in 1930. He grew up in an environment full of factories and was familiar with the sight of people devoting themselves to making things. Studying engineering at Seoul National University was thus natural for him.

      Robots are now on most production lines in South Korea, but until the mid-1980s the country had to rely on imported robots, mainly from Japan. At the time, instruction manuals attached to imported robots showed how to handle the machines but had no word about control software. South Korean firms had no choice but to use imports, and the exact workings of the software were kept unknown as a "black box" for them.

      Making history

      In 1983, Ko was invited by the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials to jointly develop an industrial robot. He accepted the offer and eagerly took on the project in the belief that factory automation and robot technology would crucially affect the competitiveness of companies in five to 10 years.

      He was especially keen to develop control software. After much trial and error, researchers on his team completed a set of robotics mechanisms and software in 1985.

      Impressed by the team's sophisticated robot system, Samsung Electronics Co. soon launched a joint project with Seoul National University for commercialization. It took the partners two years to complete a so-called horizontal articulated robot. Samsung soon introduced made-in-South Korea robots to its production lines.

      Ko has made contributions to upgrading South Korean industry not only as a researcher but also as an educator. The Inter-University Semiconductor Research Center, which he created in 1985, is the capstone of that achievement.

      The center has evolved into a world-class R&D base, sending talented engineers to many South Korean electronics firms and laying the foundation for their current formidable competitiveness.


    • Culture

      Mr. Guo Dalie (left)

      Chairman of the Yunnan Province Society of Ethnology, China, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture in honor of his outstanding role in preserving the Naxi language in 1999 using a handmade textbook to teach pupils at Huangcun Primary School, which has many Naxi pupils. Guo Dalie and his wife also opened their home in Lijiang to the public as a Dongba Cultural Transmission Center, complete with a library in classroom. The unique forms of the Dongba script have become popular in Japan, with designers making use of the script on stickers, business cards and other commercial products.

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      Mr. Guo Dalie (left)

      Devoted to preserving Dongba script

      The Dongba script, the world's last remaining pictographic writing system, was created and is still used by the Naxi, an ethnic minority in China. Guo Dalie, a Naxi himself and a leading scholar of the history of the Naxi people, has made his life's work preserving the Dongba script and Naxi culture.

      Guo, 63, lives in Lijiang, Yunnan Province, where most of the roughly 300,000 Naxi people live.

      His energetic activities transcend those as an academic and reflect Guo's deep concern about the viability of the Naxi culture. "Hsiung-Nu, Xianbei and other peoples once thrived but then disappeared because they lost their cultures," he said.

      He set his heart on studying the history of the Naxi while a student of the Central Institute for Nationalities in Beijing. "I had growing awareness of my identity as a Naxi as I mixed with students and teachers of a vast variety of ethnic backgrounds" at the institute, Guo said.

      His aspiration did not wane even after he graduated in 1964 and began working in the education bureau of a local government in Yunnan Province.

      Guo, who worked at a municipal office for 17 years straddling the Cultural Revolution, had to wait until 1980 before becoming an ethnologist at the Yunnan Province Institute of Sociology. For the next 20 years, he devoted himself to studying and writing books about Naxi history and culture. In the process, he was confronted with the question of how to preserve and even energize an ethnic culture.

      In 1999, Guo and his wife launched an experimental project to give elementary-school pupils extracurricular classes in the Naxi language, Dongba writing and traditional Naxi dance. Seeing a growing number of Naxi people lose their ability to speak their vernacular because of the official use of the Han language in schools, Guo came to think that "the ethnic culture needs to be nurtured as part of the education system."

      The project soon gained the support of the local authorities, leading to the spread of the classes among other elementary schools. Some higher-level schools began creating follow-up classes.

      Financial rewards

      Guo has been eager to help foster business related to the Naxi culture, such as selling T-shirts printed with the Dongba script. "The Han language and culture have been spreading even among ethnic minorities because this helps bring them material benefits," Guo said. "So if knowledge of the Naxi language and culture generates profit, it will motivate people to learn more about them."

      Of about 6,000 languages now used in the world, nearly half are projected to vanish within 100 years. Ethnic minorities around the globe struggling to keep their indigenous cultures amid relentless globalization can learn from the approach of Guo and his wife - utilizing the education system and creating businesses that take advantage of the culture to ensure its survival.


  • 9th Winners


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    • Regional Growth

      Dr. Muhammad Yunus (left)

      Dr. Muhammad Yunus, managing director of Grameen Bank, Bangladesh, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth in honor of his outstanding role in developing and spreading the unique "microfinance" scheme as a tool for helping the poor out of financial hardship.

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      Dr. Muhammad Yunus (left)

      Originator of 'micro credit' hopes to end poverty

      Winner for Regional Growth:
      Muhammad Yunus
      managing director of Grameen Bank, Bangladesh

      Muhammad Yunus, who won the prize for regional growth, developed the concept of "micro credit" - a lending service targeting the poor and needy - and created Grameen Bank in Bangladesh to provide it.

      As a young, spirited economist three decades ago, Yunus saw firsthand the suffering of the poor when a famine hit his country. It made him question the merits of an economic theory that could treat billions of dollars as a mere pittance, while doing little to help people struggling to earn a few cents just to buy food.

      The young Yunus visited poor families in local villages, hoping to help them in some way. It was then that he met a group of women who earned their living by making bamboo craftwork. Hearing that this group was in dire need of money to purchase materials, he lent them the equivalent of $27 out of his own pocket. This was the beginning of his micro credit system, which requires no collateral.

      For people denied loans by private banks because of their inability to provide collateral, Yunus acted as a guarantor, fully aware that he could lose money. He helped many at more than 100 villages in this way over two years, during which there was not a single default. As the number of loans grew, he began to think it might be better to create a bank for the poor rather than merely serving as their guarantor. In 1983, Yunus launched Grameen Bank.

      The bank's lending system is vastly different from that of an ordinary bank. At Grameen, several borrowers form a group, within which each member's repayment plan is drawn up based on income level and type of business, typically mom-and-pop operations such as crafts makers and small farmers. Bank officials pay the groups regular visits to discuss repayment plans or collect on loans.

      Grameen Bank boasts a repayment rate of more than 90% since the start of operations. It now lends $4.2 billion to 3.2 million borrowers, with a repayment rate of nearly 98%. Judging from the bank's own definition of poverty, based on residential and clothing conditions, among other factors, 46% of the borrowers can no longer be categorized as poor, Yunus said.

      Not one for half-measures, Yunus says he is too fully engaged in all his activities to classify any as a hobby. His ultimate objective, which he hopes to accomplish using the micro credit system, is to halve the number of the world's poor by 2015.

      Speech text / June 2, 2004

      Honourable President, Distinguished Guests,
      Ladies and Gentlemen

      It is a great honour for me to receive the Nikkei Asia Prize 2004. When the news of my receiving the prize was communicated to me, it was quite a surprise for me. I was not expecting to win this prestigious prize. But being chosen for it made a big difference. This prize has inspired all of us in Grameen Bank for a very special reason. The name "Nikkei" represents the core of the economy and the media in Japan. Being recognised by Nikkei is like a dream come true.

      We have been struggling all a long, since we began to lend money to the poor in Bangladesh in 1976, to convince the world that what we are doing should be accepted as an integral part of business. We have been arguing that it is absolutely wrong of the financial institutions to reject the poor people by assuming that they are not creditworthy. I wanted to demonstrate in one village that banking can be done with the poor people without collateral and without risking the money. My demonstration was successful. But nobody took it seriously because it was done in one tiny village. So I expanded my work to several villages.

      It worked as good as the first time. But still I could not change the mindset of people. I continued to expand my work and created a separate bank, called Grameen Bank, to lend money exclusively to the poor people, mostly women. The bank became very successful. It drew attention of many countries around the world. Our methodology to lend money to the poor was adopted all over the world. But still mainstream banking stayed away from lending money to the poor.

      I hope our receiving the Nikkei prize will bring a change in the conventional banking.

      Grameen Bank has been a great experience of discovering reality around me. More and more I realised that whatever I learnt from the formal education system did not expose me to the reality of life of the poor. In many cases what is passed around as knowledge about poor people is actually nothing more than pure and simple make-believe stories. On top of it, we start believing in our own made-up stories, so much so that we refuse to accept the reality even if it stares at us in the face. We are quick to protect ourselves by dismissing evidence which does not fit into our made-up story.

      The famine of 1974 in Bangladesh was a rude shock for me. A real life famine raging around you is quite a different experience than reading volumes about it. I found it terribly embarrassing to teach elegant theories of economics to my students telling them that solution to economic problems can be easily derived from those theories, while people are dying of hunger right outside the class-room. It did not take much time to see the emptiness of those theories in terms of their capacity to help the hungry people. Since economic theories could not help me to help the hungry people around me, I thought I should go back to the root and become a basic human being and try to help another human being without any acquired knowledge about it.

      That's what I did. In the process I learned many things which I never knew before. I learned that poverty is not created by the poor people. It is not their fault at all. They are as human beings as anybody else. It is the system which turned them into poor. Existing system is built to reject them, and deny them opportunities. If we want to remove poverty from the world all we need to do is to go back to the drawing board and design a new system which allows everybody the same opportunity. Every human being is endowed with enormous potentials. Some get the opportunity to explore those potentials, and some don't get that opportunity. Those who remain unaware about their potentials, because of the lop-sided institutions we built, remain at the bottom of the social and economic ladder.

      The prime responsibility of human civilization should be ensuring human dignity for each and every member of the human society. But looking at the condition of the poor around the world we cannot say that the human society has accepted this responsibility with any seriousness.

      Grameen Bank has turned out to be a very sound financial institution. It is owned by the borrowers of Grameen Bank. At present there are 3.5 million borrowers, 95 per cent of them are women. It is a bank basically owned by poor women. Currently it lends out nearly US $ 400 million a year. Its repayment rate is 99 per cent. It is financially self-reliant. It does not take any loan, or grant from any source. All its money comes from the deposits it collects from the borrowers and non-borrowers. It regularly makes profit. Last year it made a profit of US $ 6 million.

      To encourage the children of borrowers' families to stay in school and perform well in schools, Grameen Bank offers over 6,000 scholarships each year to these children. Grameen Bank gives student loans to students who are in professional schools to become doctors, engineers, lawyers, scientists, etc.

      To make sure Grameen's credit programme reaches the bottom-most, the bank has launched a programme this year exclusively focussing on beggars. The bank offers an option to the beggars. It invites them to carry a collection of popular consumer items, financed by the bank, when they go out to beg from rural households. They can do both begging and selling at their convenience. If their business activity picks up, they may quit begging. More than 9,000 beggars have already joined the programme. We are expecting this number to reach to 25,000 by the end of the year.

      If a significant number of beggars quit begging within a year or so, this would be big demonstration of the inherent capacity of the poor people to overcome their problems with their own abilities given the support from appropriate institutions.

      I strongly feel that we can create a poverty-free world. We can do it faster than we can imagine. Basic ingredient of overcoming poverty is packed inside every poor person. All we need to do is to help the person to unleash the energy and creativity inside the person. Once this can be done, poverty will disappear very fast. Only place in the world where poverty may exist will be in the poverty museums --- not in any human society.

      We need to reconceptualise the business world to make sure it contributes to the creation of a humane society, not create and aggravate the problems around us. One way to do it will be to create social business enterprises, along with conventional business enterprises whose primary aim is to maximize profit. Social business enterprises are new kind of non-loss businesses which aim at solving social, health and environmental problems. Any one who will go into business for doing good to people we may call them social business entrepreneurs. Many social business entrepreneurs exist today, but there is no mechanism to make them visible, no mechanism to bring them in touch with individual investors who would like to invest in a social enterprise. Creation of a social stockmarket will be the logical answer to this match-making problem. Nikkei is the right organization to take an initiative in creating a social stockmarket.

      I strongly feel that information technology can change the fate of the poor dramatically, if we can ensure access to information technology for the poor. Information technology has the wonderful capacity to empower an individual person. Micro-credit and information technology can create unprecedented opportunities for the poor people, particularly poor women. We have experienced it through Grameen Phone, the mobile telephone company that we created as a sister company of Grameen Bank. It brings mobile phones to the poor women of Grameen Bank to run a village level telecommunication business. Over 60,000 telephone ladies are running roaring businesses with these telephones and changing their lives and their children's lives by totally changing their outlook on life. Number of telephone ladies will increase to over 100,000 by the end of this year, who will be serving almost all the villages of Bangladesh.

      In concluding my speech, I wish to express my gratitude to Nihon Keizai Shimbun for the honour you have granted me. By recognizing me and my work you have drawn world attention to the issue of global poverty and possibility of ending it once for all.

      I accept the honour with great humility.

      Thank you very much.


    • Science, Technology and Innovation

      Prof. Dr. Yongyuth Yuthavong (center)

      Prof. Dr. Yongyuth Yuthavong, senior researcher at National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Thailand, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Science, Technology and Innovation in honor of his outstanding role in the research of malaria parasite and the development of science and technology research system in his country.

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      Prof. Dr. Yongyuth Yuthavong (center)

      Malaria in cross hairs of crusading researcher

      Winner for Science, Technology and Innovation:
      Yongyuth Yuthavong
      senior researcher at Thailand's National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology

      Malaria remains an intractable disease today, claiming several million victims worldwide every year.

      The disease has managed to stay a step ahead of medical science by simply mutating and strengthening its immunity to the drugs used to treat it.

      Yongyuth Yuthavong traces his work on malaria to an experience he had while studying chemistry in the U.K. in the 1960s. "I was so excited to hear researchers announce their discovery of an enzyme's chemical composition - a major breakthrough in human history - that I never forgot the experience," he recalls. He immersed himself in the study of enzymes and cell membranes after earning a doctorate in organic chemistry.

      At the time, malaria was rampant, taking a heavy human toll around the globe. The disease is caused in tropical areas by a parasite that enters the human body through the bite of an infected mosquito. The malaria parasite reproduces in liver cells before forcing its way into red blood cells, eventually spreading throughout the body.

      Confident that his research would be helpful in conquering the disease, he began studying malaria in the mid-1970s with financial assistance from the Rockefeller Foundation and others, a commitment that has continued for almost three decades.

      His most notable contribution has been the advancement of analysis of the structure of the malaria parasite. By the end of 2003, Yuthavong and his fellow researchers had almost completely elucidated the molecular structure of a key enzyme known as dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR), with X-ray crystallography.

      The analysis of the enzyme's structure was hailed worldwide as a great step toward overcoming malaria, since it will help in the development of a new generation of drugs to fight the disease.

      Yuthavong said that more than 90% of the structure of the enzyme has been identified, and the analysis should be complete in a few more years.

      He predicts, however, that it will take at least five to 10 years to develop a vaccine against the disease. His battle against malaria is likely to continue until less expensive vaccines are developed.

      In addition to his work on malaria, Yuthavong helped organize T

      Speech text / June 2, 2004

      Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

      I am greatly delighted and deeply honoured to be chosen as winner of the 9th Nikkei Asia Prize for Science, Technology and Innovation. As the first person from Thailand to receive the Prize in this category, I would like to acknowledge it not only as honour for myself, but also for my fellow team members, my institution - the BIOTEC Centre, and my country - Thailand, which together have enabled advanced research and development to be accomplished under relatively difficult circumstances of the developing world. Needless to say, the support of my whole family - present here - has also been an essential factor.

      The Prize gives me further confidence in the ability of us Asians to solve our own problems through appropriate use of science and technology, and to spread the results of our innovations for the benefit not only of Asians, but of the world at large as well. The work which has brought me to this point is a long- standing quest to develop new drugs against malaria, based on our understanding of the basic biology of the parasites. Malaria is a big global health problem, causing illness in hundreds of millions, and deaths of more than one million people every year, mostly in the developing world. Put simply, it kills a person about every half a minute. It is an old disease which has been affecting mankind throughout history. Although there have been many drugs to fight against this disease, many of them have lost effectiveness because the parasites have become resistant to them. Therefore we urgently need to find new drugs.

      In the old days, people found the cure for malaria in the bark of the cinchona tree, located through adventurous trips to the jungles of South America. In our effort to find new drugs, our work also took us on adventures, not to the wild jungles of the physical world, but to the jungle of our ignorance about the malaria parasite. We need to understand what the malaria parasites need to sustain their infectious power and what we can do to stop it. We need to know how the drugs which used to be effective lost their effectiveness, and what can be done to regain it. The drugs on which we have been working, known as antifolates, work through stopping the function of an important component of the parasite, which is the molecular "target" of the drugs. The parasite fought back by changing this target, so that the drug cannot find it. We therefore set out to find how the drugs interact with the parasite target, and how the parasite managed to change it so that it could be come resistant.

      Using the techniques of molecular biology and structural chemistry, we obtained the structures of both the original and changed targets, could see how the drugs bind with the target and stop its function. We could further see how the parasite evolved by changing the target, so that the old drugs could no longer work. More importantly, we could also see how to hit the changed target effectively. We now have the information and strategies needed to design and make new drugs which will be effective against the resistant parasites.

      Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

      What I have told you may sound like a neat adventure, just a matter of finding solutions to some problems and reaping the reward of success. In fact, science is never that easy. Behind a successful experiment are ten others not so successful, or even outright failures. In a developing country, we are handicapped further by lack of people and resources necessary for doing good research. When I started my research career, I was given an empty lab! But I was already better off than many scientists in developing countries, who have even no lab to start with. My first grant support was $300, a sum which did not go very far even in the cheaper age of the early seventies. No wonder so many scientists from developing countries decided to work in advanced places away from their homeland. For many who stay home, there are so many hurdles to overcome, and so many distractions to lure them away from the laboratory. However, I have always been committed to working as an active scientist in my country, in spite of many difficult conditions. Our path is full of obstacles slowing us down, but these also make our journey a challenging one. Eventually, with our sustained efforts we could win international grants for our work, our research group could grow in our country, and could contribute significantly to our society and the world at large.

      I realized quite early in my career that science and technology cannot be done in vacuum. It needs good infrastructure, and understanding and support from the society. Like many developing countries, Thailand still lacks these elements, but there are potentials for building them up. Important though the international support programmes may be, they are not sufficient and can be meaningful only in the early phase of development of a country. Eventually, each country must rely mostly on its own resources to nurture the growth of its science and technology, which will in turn give benefits back with value worth many times that of the investment. I therefore devoted substantial effort towards the goals of strengthening the management and support of science and technology in Thailand. Over the years, the effort paid off in helping to make big improvements in the research management and funding areas, with establishment of such agencies as the BIOTEC Centre which I helped to create, the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), of which I served as the first President, and the Thailand Research Fund, for which I had a part in planning. The big challenge for me was not only to help to create and run these agencies, but to be able to come back to research at full force after some years in management positions. This was possible since I always kept my research going, with thanks to the many colleagues and students who share the same goals and interests.

      The universal nature of science, technology and innovation means that they are connected all over the world. Because of this connectivity, development of science, technology and innovation brings benefits not only to the country of origin, but to all countries. It is therefore very appropriate for Nikkei Asia Prizes to include science, technology and innovation as a part of contributions to stability, development and the enrichment of people's lives in Asia. I am very gratified to see that our work has been recognized by the judges as fulfilling the goals of the Prizes. The Prize will give me further strength to carry on with the unfinished tasks both in the search for new effective antimalarial drugs, and in striving for better science and technology status in Thailand as a whole.

      Thank you very much.


    • Culture

      Prof. Albert Wendt (right)

      Prof. Albert Wendt, author from Samoa and professor at the University of Auckland, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture in honor of his creative works, introducing the traditions and cultures of Samoa and other Pacific Island nations, previously only passed down orally, in lyrical English for global readers.

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      Prof. Albert Wendt (right)

      Samoan writer spreads island culture

      Winner for Culture:
      Albert Wendt
      author and professor at the University of Auckland

      Albert Wendt has lived in New Zealand for almost 30 years, but he remains a true Samoan, introducing the traditions and culture of the South Pacific islands to readers worldwide through his plain yet lyrical novels and poems.

      He has written six full-length novels, three books of short stories and four poetry anthologies since 1973, and has won acclaim not only in the region but also worldwide.

      His works bring to life the anguish of people whose lands have been colonized by the West, as well as the frustration stemming from the gap between local traditions and modern civilization.

      His books also often show Westerners behaving as rulers, although he says people should hate colonialism rather than the colonizers themselves.

      English is the language through which he expresses himself most naturally, as he studied at high school and university in New Zealand for more than a decade starting in 1953. He then took teaching jobs at a Samoan high school and at a university in Fiji. He said English is the common language of the South Pacific islands.

      His creative work has been greatly influenced by his grandmother. He effortlessly assimilated the Samoan culture from his infancy, through folk tales told by his grandmother both in English and in her native language.

      Having inherited a tradition of oral storytelling, Wendt strives to produce a good harmony of sounds in his novels. He always reads aloud what he has written while working on a novel, and if it doesn't sound right he changes it as many times as necessary. It is a time-consuming way of writing - one story took him 15 years to complete.

      Wendt is inspired to write by his distress over the reality of the Pacific region, where islands that became independent after World War II are still unable to survive on their own without foreign economic support.

      Despite the harsh reality he faces, Wendt has made tremendous contributions to the region's art and culture by accepting students from every corner of the region to his university and educating them, in addition to his writing activities. He also focuses on the development of Asia-Pacific studies, centering on local languages.

      He has also published an anthology of orally inherited folk stories he collected during trips to Fiji, the Solomon Islands and elsewhere in the region, with the hope of reviving the traditional cultures whose values were once rejected and destroyed by missionaries from the West.

      Wendt, who turns 65 this year, is continuing to challenge himself. He recently completed his first play for a theatrical company of Samoans based in New Zealand, and is going to teach at the University of Hawaii, which leads in Asia-Pacific studies, for two years starting in July.

      Speech text / June 2, 2004

      Oute fa'atulou atu i le Mamalu ma le Paia o lo'o alala i itu e fa o lenei Maota. On behalf of my Aiga (Families), I greet this distinguished gathering.

      Firstly, I thank, most sincerely, Mr Gaishi Hiraiwa, Chairman of the Nikkei Asia Prizes selection committee and the members of his committee for selecting me for this generous Prize for Culture . I thank also Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc., (NIKKEI), the sponsors of the Prizes. It is the most prestigious award I have ever received. It is a wonderful honour and recognition of the work I and other Samoan and Pacific writers have done. I will always be grateful to NIKKEI and the Japanese people.

      I grew up in a small country, Samoa, a Polynesian group of islands that is linked through geography, history and culture to Asia and the other island countries that are scattered across our magnificent ocean, the Pacific. Our Polynesian ancestors came down from somewhere in S-E Asia through parts of Japan, Malaysia, and Indonesia and took some 4000 years to explore and settle the Pacific. In their daring exploration of our great ocean, sea and sky became the governing elements in their lives. Unlike those who come from large bodies of land, they saw a world without limits. They used their knowledge of the ocean currents, winds and stars to navigate their lives by and create a wise and extensive oral literature. My writing springs from that oral literature. For over thirty years I have been writing about Samoa, my adopted country Aotearoa/New Zealand, and the Pacific, the Region that I love and which is one of the most culturally diverse areas in the world. Through my writing I hope I have helped - in a modest way - to story, define, and bring into being the peoples and cultures of those countries and that Region.

      My journey as a writer began with my grandmother, parents and other elders who raised my brothers, sisters and I on the ancient knowledge and ways of Samoa. Much of those were handed to us orally through stories and oratory. Mele, my dynamic grandmother, was an authority on Fa'a-Samoa, the Samoan Way. She fed us on our history, our genealogies that connect us to our Gods and each other and the universe and nature. She was also a spellbinding storyteller who filled and shaped our lives with her stories. She died, many years ago, at the age of ninetyfour, but she is still with me as the greatest storyteller I have ever known. I carry her and Samoa whereever I go and in whatever I write.

      Throughout my life I have learned from other writers and the literatures of the world. I was thirteen when I went to boarding school and later to university in New Zealand and experienced a culture very different from mine. I became fluent in another language, English, and through that fell in love with much of the world's literature in that language. The influence of that literature and many of its authors combined with the indigenous influences of Samoa made me the writer I am today. As a young writer I was enthralled by the work of Japanese writers and film makers such as Yukio Mishima, Yasunari Kawabata, and Akira Kurosawa. And later by the novels of Kenzaburo Oe. To those writers and filmmakers I will always be indebted.

      When I was finishing my university studies in New Zealand in the early 1960s, I was told by some writers there that, because Samoa was small and remote, it would not provide me with enough material for writing novels. What I soon discovered when I returned to my country was that Samoa was small geographically but, like other countries, it has a long and rich history and a complex culture of relationships between people, between people and society, between people and nature and the environment, and between people and the cosmos, the fertile stuff for novels, enough material to explore and write about for the rest of my life.

      In that journey to try and understand my own people and the locations I belong to, I have come to understand a little about human beings every where, about our differences and similarities, about the inner darknesses and light that seem to govern our behaviour, and about love and courage and self- sacrifice that are common to all humanity.

      That journey has also enabled me to appreciate and live with the huge contradictions that we and our lives are. In Samoan mythology, when the Supreme God, Tagaloaalagi, created us and our islands, He gifted us agaga (soul), poto (cunning, wit), masalo (doubt), loto (spirit), atamai (intelligence), and finagalo (will). Those marvellous gifts make for contradiction: they not only make us capable of enormous love and creation, healing and invention, but also of selfish arrogance, cruelty and violence. That contradiction is at the heart of all our cultures, philosophies, and literatures. I grew up in the latter half of the Twentieth Century, a time of incredible invention in technology and science and the arts yet a time of unbelievable violence and suffering, brutality and injustice. Every where we look today we see a tragic continuation of that. As writers it is our duty to bear witness to that.

      There is much in globalisation that I admire and support. But some of it is a continuation of colonialism. Some powerful nations continue to seek free and cheap access to all the markets and resources of our planet. In that unrelenting quest, our environment and small powerless cultures and peoples are being threatened with erasure. However, we are witnessing a defiant refusal by them to give up their individual ways, languages, beliefs, and the right to be themselves. Within countries some minority groups refuse to be assimilated into the faceless mass national cultures. Again, as writers we must bear witness to their wondrous defiance.

      This is my third visit to Japan. My first two visits had a profound effect on how I perceive other people and cultures trying to adapt to and cope with modernity and radical foreign influences. I used some of the material from those visits in a novel, OLA, which was published in 1991. I want to end with one of the poems I included in the Japanese section of OLA:

      My Mother Dances

      Through the shadows cast by the moon tonight the memory of my mother dances
      like the flame-red carp I watched
      in the black waters of the lake
      of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto.
      Such burning grace.
      Though I'm ill with my future
      and want to confess it to her,
      I won't. Not tonight.
      For my mother dances
      in the Golden Pavilion
      of my heart.
      How she can dance.
      Even the moon is spellbound
      with her grace.

      Ia alolofa Atua ma fa'amanuia mai i lenei Saugiga, ma lenei Laumua, ma lenei Atunu'u loto alofa.

      May the ancient Gods bless this Ceremony, this great City, and this illustrious Country.



  • 8th Winners


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    • Regional Growth

      Mr. Hun-Jai Lee (center)

      Mr. Hun-Jai Lee, former Minister of Finance and Economy, Republic of Korea, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth in honor of his outstanding role in reviving South Korean economy in the face of the 1997 economic crisis, through bold financial reforms such as drastic realignment of major banks and massive injection of public funds.

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      Mr. Hun-Jai Lee (right)

      Lee rose to challenge of financial system crisis

      staff writer

      SEOUL - The enormity of the challenge in bringing his country back from the edge of financial catastrophe is not lost on Lee Hun-jai, winner of the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth. "My role was like that of a fire chief who leads an emergency recovery effort," explained the former minister of finance and economy for South Korea. "I had to take immediate action to bring financial markets and commercial activity back to normal, even if the measures were less than perfect."

      When he was made chairman of the Financial Supervisory Commission after the 1998 inauguration of President Kim Dae-jung, the economy was suffering "the worst chaos since the Korean War." Lee was chosen to spearhead financial system reform because of his reputation as a brilliant bureaucrat with original ideas. His time as an executive in the Daewoo group meant he had real-world experience, too.

      Change within the banking sector began immediately. Five hopeless banks were closed and seven were told to merge or accept foreign capital. Opposition was strong, but Lee thought trying to save doomed banks would make things worse.

      Banks with recovery potential, on the other hand, found public funds readily available. In total, 157 trillion won ($131 billion), a sum equivalent to 30% of South Korea's gross domestic product, has been injected into various lenders since 1998. To ensure a fresh start, executives at banks receiving public funds were made to resign.

      During the five years that Kim was in power, South Korean banks declined in number from 33 to 18, including one deal still under negotiation. Bad loans totaled just 15 trillion won at the end of 2002, down from 88 trillion won in March 1998, in no small part because Lee continued to champion reform after being named Minister of Finance and Economy in 2000.

      Industrial restructuring was pursued with equal determination, a prime example being efforts to break up the Hyundai and Daewoo conglomerates.

      Lee remains widely respected for his innovative thinking, decisiveness and disinterest in fame and wealth. In February 2003, he was praised as the best minister in the history of South Korea by members of the incoming Roh Moo-hyun administration.

      Aside from consulting and other professinal pursuits, Lee now spends time studying corporate governance.

      Speech text / June 4, 2003

      1. Greetings

      Honorable Mr. Sugita Ryoki, president of Nihon Keizai Shimbun,
      Ms. Urvashi Butalia, who won the Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture,
      Dignitaries from Japan and abroad, and
      Ladies and gentlemen,

      I am Hun-Jai Lee.

      It is the utmost honor that the South Korean structural adjustment I initiated has received such high recognition and been given one of the most prestigious awards in Asia.

      Let me thank Mr. Gaishi Hiraiwa, who led the selection committee, and all of its members, for allowing me to take rank with 21 winners of the Nikkei Asia Prizes in the past and present. I also wish to express my deepest gratitude to Nihon Keizai Shimbun for giving me an opportunity like this.

      It is a great pity that the fellow winner Dr. Yang, recognized for his achievement in technological innovation, could not be here today due to the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

      It is not exactly appropriate for me to receive this honor as my personal achievement.

      The honor should be extended firstly to the people of the Republic of Korea, who have endured a multitude of pains and demonstrated the spirit of fortitude in the process of facing and overcoming the nation's economic crisis. My thoughts go out to the people of our nation, who participated in the gold collection campaign to help the government increase its overseas assets, despite great sufferings from massive unemployment. The primary factor behind overcoming numerous difficulties to achieve structural adjustment, was the existence of national consensus that there was no alternative but to go down that path, however painful it might be.

      Another person who truly deserves the honor is President Kim Dae-Jung, who made the brave decision to take a politically unpopular policy, acknowledging the harsh reality of South Korean economy in the process of overcoming the nation's currency and financial crisis. Allow me to pray for a quick recovery of his health.

      Looking at past examples of countries having overcome crisis, leadership, especially future-oriented leadership, holds the key for successful structural adjustment.

      I wish to also share this honor with my colleagues, junior government staff and private-sector specialists, who fought a lonely battle, with all their might, to fulfill given duties in the spirit of dedication and conviction to overcome the crisis and reform fiscal structures.

      The new principles and systems we created, have provided the foundation for further developing the Republic of Korea into the 21st century.

      2. Lessons of structural adjustment

      Today, I wish to share with you what I have felt during my struggle to overcome the nation's currency and financial crisis.

      Firstly, I have found it more desirable to separately handle macroeconomic policies for controlling the economy, and structural adjustment policies for resolving inconsistencies within financial systems. It is a common experience among countries that underwent financial crisis that improving the macroeconomic environment does not necessarily resolve systemic problems. What's more, putting off the task of structural adjustment, citing economic stagnation, would only expand the problem instead of eluding it.

      A government should not resort to an austere policy of artificially manipulating the interest rate or exchange rate, in order to encourage structural adjustment. Such a policy is not only low in legitimacy but also doubtful in its effectiveness.

      For example, the 1997 financial crisis of South Korea stemmed from excessive and non-performing debts in the corporate sector. The initial government measures, combining high interest rates and austere budget, ended up worsening the situation.

      This has some relevance in the recent argument in Japan about the priority between anti-deflation measures and structural adjustment. The two goals are not interchangeable or sequential. They should be pursued simultaneously.

      Secondly, I have come to realize that companies and economies are organic entities that can only survive through adapting to environmental changes. Re-engineering can solve most problems if you opt to respond to each challenge as they come. This is why the term "structural adjustment" is positioned as daily expression in a country that has established economic flexibility, e.g. the United States.

      Yet, in South Korea and Japan, the term "structural adjustment" is perceived as some kind of catastrophe. This is because we have long left inconsistencies and inefficiencies un-addressed to a point where the use of drastic measures is unavoidable, thus causing significant damage and pain.

      Under such a situation, a nation must destroy various economic and financial practices it has long been accustomed to, and reform the real economy as well as financial structures. In extreme cases, the nation may have to resort to structural revolution, totally abandoning its conventional system of economic administration, and building a new one from scratch.

      The greatest difficulty of it is the extreme pains all of the nation's economic entities must suffer as they undergo such revolutionary changes. The pain of unemployment and subsequent social uncertainties may rock the national system from its foundation. This is why it is always the best option to constantly conduct structural adjustment, addressing individual problems swiftly as they emerge.

      Thirdly, if structural adjustment is required in a terminal state like this, it is important to enforce it with determination and discretion regardless of the serious pains it accompanies.

      Overseas experts on structural adjustment, including staff of international organizations, advised South Korea to implement it in an orderly and sequential manner.

      Since various problems that necessitate structural adjustment are mutually linked, once full-scale structural adjustment begins, hidden problems tend to emerge simultaneously. Stunned and bewildered, people often try to cover up such problems. Yet, we must endure the pains and calmly sift through the problems one by one.

      The South Korean capital of Seoul is a major city with a population of over 10 million. The Paldang Dam on Han River in northern Seoul provides the enormous amount of water consumed in the city.

      In order to ensure health of Seoul residents, we must enforce the system of water quality control, preventing harmful materials from entering the reservoir. However, at the bottom of the reservoir lies a thick layer of harmful sediments accumulated over many years. Processing the sediment is an urgent task that needs to be implemented separately from the operation of the water quality control system.

      There are two options. One is to ignore the problem and put off taking any measures as long as possible. However, the cost of rectifying the problem in the end would be beyond imagination. Or the problem may deteriorate to a stage beyond repair however much money you are prepared to spend.

      The other option is to clear the sediment. It is the correct course of action from a long-term point of view, and must be done at some point in the future. However, it is not the most desirable option from a short- term perspective. The operation would cause all harmful substances to rise to the surface, making the reservoir's water unfit for human consumption for some time.

      Structural adjustment poses the same issue. Implementing it would inevitably cause shock and confusion, as well as the need for short-term sacrifice. At the heart of the structural adjustment policy is the choice between continuing to drink potentially hazardous water while leaving the accumulated sediment undisturbed at the bottom of the reservoir, and swiftly taking countermeasures to achieve truly clean water despite immediate inconvenience on a serious scale.

      The fourth point I wish to make, precisely in view of such attributes of structural adjustment, is the strong importance of leadership backed by the sense of commitment and communication with economic entities.

      Most people support the general concept of structural adjustment, but oppose specific details that force them to accept sacrifice. In order to achieve structural adjustment successfully, a government must seek public understanding, frankly laying out its side effects, development process and future outlook, including how all economic entities must bear some pain, and how the entire process may take longer than people may anticipate.

      Structural adjustment can be likened to the conventional endoscopic swallowing test, in which a patient must suffer nausea while observing the monitor, rather than endoscopy conducted under anesthetics, in which test results are given after a brief sleep.

      Then, why do we have to undergo structural adjustment that delivers so much pain? It is like surgery to remove a leg. The surgery is performed not because having one leg is better than having two, but because keeping the leg will lead to a situation whereby both legs must be removed.

      Unlike the human body, economy has a strong power of regeneration. Once the factors impeding a positive economic cycle are removed, new jobs and industries of high added value will emerge, just like new skin is formed over a wound. When the general public understands and accepts this, the operation of structural adjustment can be achieved smoothly and effectively.

      One thing I want to stress is the fact that a mistake is a mistake, and that letting time pass by would not correct the situation.

      When a company or financial organization loses its competitive edge and public confidence, there is a limit as to how much it can do to revive itself.

      When this happens, such entities with compromised competitiveness end up intermingling with more healthy companies and financial organizations, with healthy operations trying to help rotten operations, and eventually end up rotting themselves.

      Offering rotten apples and fresh apples together in a basket would make it impossible to sell them at a fair value. Rotten apples must be discarded without hesitation, so that fresh ones can be sold on their own. The same logic applies to structural adjustment, and it has to be applied quickly. Hesitation would only cause the rotting to spread, leaving no fresh apples to sell.

      Needless to say, the process will require a political leadership capable of making brave decisions and securing public acceptance for their share of the burden. Structural adjustment is a policy that does not readily attract public support, forcing people to give up their vested interest. It may very well shake the political foundation of the leadership.

      It is precisely because of this that many countries have failed to achieve full structural adjustment or repeated failures. And this is why it is extremely important to have leadership with frank communication and commitment.

      3. Suggestions to Asian neighbors, particularly Japan

      I have offered my opinions formed in the process of overcoming the financial crisis of South Korea. Today, has South Korea solved all problems that caused its financial crisis, and secured the foundation for stable economic development? My answer to this question is still pending.

      In my opinion, the country has only just finished cleaning up the old wastes that had been accumulated for many years. Efforts are now underway to develop and establish a system for preventing new wastes from accumulating again.

      Numerous infrastructures are needed to achieve sustainable growth in the national economy. Many tasks remain to be implemented, including expanding the social security system, improving the flexibility of the labor market, preparing a system for transparent corporate management, building a matured system of local autonomy, and introducing a pluralism-based competition system.

      Although many problems remain unsolved, the case can be considered as a successful example, with the country swiftly and bravely addressing its currency and financial crisis, and overcoming the difficulties to stabilize the economy. Yet, can Japan and other Asian nations take the South Korean example of structural adjustment and apply it in solving their domestic problems?

      My answer is NO. Just as the policy package for financial crisis in Latin America was not suitable for South Korea, diagnosis and treatment formulated without identifying the true nature of domestic economic problems could only jeopardize the situation even further.

      Above all, Japan and South Korea are totally different in the scale and complexity of financial structures. We also have different political systems and cultures. Our current problems are also attributed to different factors.

      While Japanese problems have emerged in the maturity stage of successful economic growth, South Korean problems have arisen from the loss of drive as the country attempted a high level of growth beyond its capacity.

      When the currency crisis struck South Korea, I had the opportunity of reading "Roma-jin no Monogatari (Tales of the Romans)" by Nanami Shiono. In the introduction for Volume II "War with Hannibal", the author said that historians should judge historical persons or events solely on the basis of whether they were in line with the demands of the time.

      Traditional society before the Industrial Revolution had knowledge that formed the basis of added value and competitive capacity. In the industrialized society that followed, since such knowledge was held by competitors, the approach of learning and improving through benchmarking proved effective.

      In the knowledge-based society of the 21st century, the key to competitive edge lies in the capacity to foresee the future.

      We must now look ahead into the future, rather than reflecting back to our past. In this sense, the 21st century can be described as the age of severance, in contrast to the 20th century dubbed the age of uncertainty.

      South Korea followed in the footsteps of Japan in achieving the Industrial Revolution. Yet, we clung to our own myth of success despite the fact that the success formula had already hit the limit, and missed the opportunity for taking a fresh path, thus heading straight into a crisis. The group that held vested interest under the old system refused to accept any changes, and brought reform attempts to a failure.

      Since Japan recorded a series of remarkable successes throughout the 20th century, it may paradoxically experience just as much difficulties for transformation.

      Now, concluding my speech...

      I feel the Japanese economy is not only for the people of Japan. Whether the Japanese economy performs well or not will affect areas far beyond immediate Japanese concerns. The Japanese economy represents a significant proportion of the global economy, with direct links to the economies of East Asia in particular. Japan not only supplies production technologies, management and capital, but also provides the demand and sales routes, in other words the market itself, to countries in this region.

      Japan appears to keep on postponing the urgent task of structural adjustment, while its economy remains in a protracted stagnation in the absence of vitality, leaving surrounding economies in frustration. Let me take this opportunity to express my sincere hope that Japan will overcome the current difficulty, and re- emerge as a nation of hope, ironing out the creases of East Asian economies.

      I will wait, in enthusiasm, for the day of accomplishment in Japan's economic and financial reforms, backed by the reform philosophy of Prime Minister Koizumi and commitment from Financial Services Minister Heizo Takenaka.

      Finally, let me repeat my deepest gratitude for selecting me for this great honor. Thank you.


    • Science, Technology and Innovation

      Dr. Yang Huanming (left)

      Dr. Yang Huanming, Professor & Director of Beijing Genomics Institute, China, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Science, Technology and Innovation in honor of his outstanding role in leading the research group that became the world's first in sequencing the genome of long-grain rice (indica), a rice variety widely consumed across Asia.

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      Dr. Yang Huanming (left)

      Work in genomics could help end world hunger

      staff writer

      BEIJING - The Beijing Genomics Institute grabbed global attention in April 2002 when Science magazine reported that the lab had beaten the rest of the world in the race to complete the genomic map of indica (long-grain) rice. Leading the research team was Yang Huanming, director of the institute and winner of the Nikkei Asia Prize for Science, Technology and Innovation. He is one of the foremost genomic scientists in China.

      Born in 1952 in a farming village in Zhejiang Province, Yang began studying long-grain rice out of a desire to help developing countries boost harvest levels and combat poverty. His genomic research on the indica grain was conducted as part of a government program aimed at creating a new and higher- yielding strain of rice.

      Development of rice offering higher yields and greater resistance to drought, disease and pests would help farmers in underdeveloped regions of the world immensely. For the scientists pursuing this goal, completion of the genetic map for long-grain rice represents a huge step in the right direction.

      Yang, together with three young scientists who studied in the U.S. and Europe, established the Beijing Genomics Institute in 1999 as a nonprofit research entity. After obtaining his doctorate from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, Yang himself conducted genetic research in France and the U.S. before returning to China in 1994 and becoming a professor at Beijing Medical University.

      Under his leadership, the Beijing Genomics Institute continues to grow in both size and status. With the opening of a branch in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, in 2001, the institute became the largest genomic research organization in China.

      Sporting a 500-strong research team, the most powerful supercomputer in the country and the very latest equipment, the institute, housed in a plain-looking building in a high-tech park near Beijing International Airport, is now regarded as one of the most capable genetics labs in Asia. The capacity came in handy during the rice genome project, as the decision to use the "shotgun" sequencing method presented many unforeseen challenges that had to be overcome.

      Fields of interest at the Beijing Genomics Institute extend far beyond the agricultural realm. In September 1999 the institute joined an international consortium researching human DNA and by June 2000 had finished mapping around 1% of the entire human genome.

      Yang and his fellow scientists continue to expand the breadth of their research activity even today. One project currently under way involves collaborating with the government of Denmark in an effort to sequence the genome of pigs.

      Speech text / June 4, 2003

      Dear friends and colleagues,

      It is a great honor for me to be awarded Nikkei Asia Prize which has great influence on the development of science in Asia and beyond. It is a great encouragement for my colleagues in China. I would take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to the staff and friends in Nikkei and solutes to all distinguished guests.

      We are known to be new comers in genome sequencing. Four years ago, facilities to do the job did not exist yet. However, China made the voice of "We are on your side by joining you" and became the latest contributor to the international Human Genome Project, placing itself alongside France, Germany, Japan, UK and USA. Now we are advancing from 1% contribution to HGP to 10% contribution to the following international HAPMAP project.

      The sequencing of the Super Hybrid rice is our second leap forward. To choose rice as our next target has its practical, logical and scientific reasoning. Rice is a good model organism to the study of other plants, and any information we learn from the project has the potential of being applied to rice breeding. It is not easy to do the job at that time because there are so many simple short tandem repeats distributing in rice genome that are almost the same, and then biologically-defined repeats were insufficient for sequence assembly, that is, to put all the short sequences together. We developed our own software and overcame the obstacles in sequence assembly. The sequencing capacity reached 30 megabase (Mb) a day, that is, equivalent to 1% of human genome once. The task was fully accomplished according to the schedule. The jobs were all done by my young staff who worked around the clock. We finished the work in just 74 days as reported by Scientific American. We announced the working draft and released the sequence data in early October 2001. We landed on the cover of the journal Science ahead of other institutes. We deserve it even though we are still at the very beginning.

      We have made all the rice genome sequence as well as the human genome sequence freely available that you can download to your computer from any corner of the world. Rice genome is as important as human genome that we think, as expressed by former President Jiang, owned by all, done by all and shared by all.

      Genomics will help us to close the knowledge gap between genome and biology, and the genome sequence is an essential reference to the understanding of life and ourselves. When we decoded the human genome, we found that the number of human genes is much fewer than we expect. Then a question naturally rose: how can so few genes make a great man? When we work on the rice genome, we were so surprised to see there are about 50-60,000 rice genes and then the question was raised: how can so many genes make so small grains of rice? The question has not been fully answered today, but we have found something to interpret it. We have found many products from the same gene in human, however, this is not the case in the rice genome. Human gene would have less gene duplication and more so-called alternative splicing to make one gene equal to many, but rice would survive by more gene duplication so that one gene can do a single job.

      In our present combat with SARS which has prevented me from joining you in this ceremony, genome sequencing has again demonstrated its power. My institute has taken the lead in China again by finishing the complete sequencing of four isolates and developed ELISA diagnostic kit accordingly. Now we are still working day and night in further research of SARS.

      Through these years we have established four powerful platforms in our institute: sequencing platform with a capacity of 45Mb/day (1.5% human genome), genotyping platform with 1,000,000 typing/day, microarray platform with 12,000,000 spots /day and proteomics platform. All these platforms are facilitated or assisted by bioinformatics platform. We are still going to sequence more, such as the soybean, the chicken and etc. We have to think more, think faster and think farther.

      We have won some achievements in science, and more importantly, we have won mutual trust and friendship which is essential to further international collaboration. Here I would like to close my speech by acknowledging all of those who have been with me and behind me, especially Prof. James D. Watson, Prof. Bolund Lars, Prof. Olson M and etc.

      While I again express my high gratitude to Nikkei, I would also like to invite you to visit our Beijing Genomics Institute someday. I will proudly show you our talented young staff and powerful supercomputers then. I look forward to meeting you in the near future.


    • Culture

      Ms. Urvashi Butalia (right)

      Ms. Urvashi Butalia, author and co-founder of Kali for Women, India, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture in honor of her outstanding role as a co-founder of India's first feminist publishing house, introducing the nation's women's issues to readers around the world, and authoring a book "The Other Side of Silence" depicting the tragedy surrounding the subcontinent's partition into India and Pakistan from the women's perspectives.

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      Ms. Urvashi Butalia (right)

      Author/activist pushes women's issues

      staff writer

      NEW DELHI - During an interview at her office in a New Delhi residential district, Urvashi Butalia, winner of the Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture, said that as a young girl she had no interest in politics, let alone feminism. The acclaimed author is also a cofounder of Kali for Women, the first Indian publishing house to specialize in feminist publications.
      Butalia's transformation into an activist occurred after she was elected president of the student body at the University of Delhi in the early 1970s. She ran for the position only because friends encouraged her to, but found her social conscience stirred after helping female students deal with sexual assault, discrimination and other problems.
      While at university, Butalia founded an organization called Samta, which means "equality" in Hindi, and began working for feminist causes. As time went on she became strongly convinced that the feminist movement needed a publisher to produce booklets and promote women's issues. After working at Oxford University Press in Delhi, Butalia came to the conclusion that the only way to realize this goal was to set up her own publishing company.
      A major turning point in Butalia's life came in 1982. That year, an old school friend in London asked why she was not working toward her dream. Plans to study for a doctorate in Hawaii were soon dropped and Butalia ended up spending another two years in London. Butalia finally returned to India and established Kali for Women.
      The next turning point was the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984. Because the assassins were Sikh guards, Sikhs found themselves under pressure throughout the country after the incident. Hearing how worried people were that there could be a repeat of the chaos that followed the partitioning of India in 1947, Butalia began to wonder about the three months of violence that had occurred after the official decision to divide the country was made public.
      Determined to find answers from the viewpoint of ordinary women, she started collecting material for a book. "The Other Side of Silence" was published in 1998, more than 10 years after the project first began. A best seller in India, this important work has also been released in the U.S., Europe, China and Japan.
      Literary fans will be pleased to learn that a follow-up to "The Other Side of Silence" is in the pipeline, as Butalia is currently studying the Jammu-Kashmir situation with an eye to writing another book.

      Speech text / June 4, 2003

      Ladies and Gentlemen
      It is difficult for me to know how to begin or indeed what to say on this occasion. It is customary to begin by thanking people and indeed, I want to thank first the Nihon Kezai Shimbun for having awarded me this wonderful prize. I'm grateful to all the members of the jury for considering my work and my activities important enough to recognize them in this way. I'm grateful for the award, for the graciousness with which the organizers treat the awardees, and I am grateful for a chance, once again, to visit a country and a culture I have grown to love, and where I have found many friends who have become my family. I cannot even begin to thank them individually, because then it will take up all the time I have for this brief speech, but they know who they are, and how I feel about them.

      Until a few years ago, Japan was just another country to me, interesting, important but something that did not really impinge on my world, except in August every year when we took out peace marches on Hiroshima day, or when I read the occasional novel by a Japanese writer. Then, thanks to the Japan Foundation, the Asia Leadership Fellowship Programme and the International House of Japan, I was given a chance to spend two months here. Those two months changed many things for me. They allowed me a glimpse of the culture, the history and the people of Japan, and they allowed me to see the similarities, the overlaps and differences in our experiences, to see how much we could learn from each other. If this can happen to an individual, I realized at the time, how much more can be done if we are to have these kinds of exchanges on a larger scale. It was those two months that convinced me of the value of cultural exchanges.

      Japan is the biggest donor of development aid to India. The two countries have recently marked a half century of diplomatic interaction, and while it is everyone's hope that this interaction continues, it is also important to ensure that cultural, human, academic interaction also forms a part of this. Administrative and political borders are sometimes difficult to cross, but at the human level, there is much we can learn from each other.

      My interaction with Japan also brought me another unexpected reward: the translation of my book of oral narratives of the Partition of India, into Japanese. This time, it was a chance encounter with a Japanese woman, Emiko Fujioka, that resulted in this. Because I am a publisher, at first I was somewhat skeptical about the feasibility of such a translation. How would a book from a very different culture translate into another, I asked myself ? But Emiko-san not only pursued the translation with commitment and dedication, she also found a subsidy and a publisher. In that sense, the award which is being given to me today for this work, is as much for Emiko's dedication and work, as it is for me.

      I'd like to speak a little about my book, The Other Side of Silence. It is never easy to explore a country's - or one's own - violent past, to excavate memory, to confront complicity, to listen to stories of grief and pain. Working on this book was not an easy thing for me, and all the time I was haunted by the question of how useful an exercise such as this could be. Today, I believe it is increasingly important for us to confront and come to terms with the experience of violence in our pasts, sometimes in our own families and communities, if we are to learn to address it in our present, and our future. We live in a deeply conflicted world, where war and violence have become the order of the day, where only certain kinds of people are characterized as terrorists, while others get away with blatant injustice and violence. The past has much to teach us here, both about remembering and about forgetting. For me, the greatest reward that this book has brought is the way people from all classes and backgrounds have reacted to it. And how much I have learnt from those responses and reactions.

      It is never easy to pinpoint the things that make up the sum of a person's life. Yet if I were asked today about my own life, I would have no hesitation in picking the two things this award has recognized: my research and writing on conflict, out of which my book has grown, and my work as a feminist and a publisher. Long years ago, I realized that the voices of women were absent from so much public discourse. Everywhere you look, you see only men, and the rare woman who is there, stands out precisely because she is so rare. I was driven by the desire to create a forum where women's voices could be heard, and to work towards putting that most powerful tool, knowledge, and information, in the hands of women. This was the motivation for our small publishing venture, and if we have had any measure of success at all, it is because there was clearly a need for such an enterprise. But it's one thing to dream a dream, to chase a star, it's quite another to operationalise it. And that is something I would never have been able to do had it not been for the support of my colleagues, my family (particularly my parents), and my friends. I would like to acknowledge their contribution in this award.

      Finally, I want to say that in a globalized world, a world of big actors, of multinationals and conglomerates, it is wonderful to find an award that recognizes and honours the small actors, the players of small parts, the providers of alternatives. It is wonderful to find an award that recognizes not only politics but also culture. Thank you Nikkei for this honour, and thank you too, importantly, for putting me in the company of two very outstanding awardees, from China and Korea. I am honoured to receive this award, and honoured to be receiving it alongside Mr. Lee Hun Jai from Korea and Dr Yang Huanming from China.


  • 7th Winners


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    • Regional Growth

      Prof. Dr. Vo-Tong Xuan (right)

      Prof. Dr. Vo-Tong Xuan, Rector, Angiang University, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth in honor of his significant work in successfully increasing rice production in the Mekong Delta region by introducing new strains and educating farmers.

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      Prof. Dr. Vo-Tong Xuan (right)

      'Farmer doctor' a hero in Vietnam Agriculturist transformed his country from importer to major exporter of rice

      staff writer

      HANOI - The life of agriculturist Vo-Tong Xuan is, as he puts it "with the farmers of Vietnam." He served as the driving force in transforming Vietnam, once a net importer of rice, into the second-largest rice- exporting country in the world.

      While researching at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines in 1971, Xuan was asked to teach agriculture at Cantho University in the Mekong Delta region of southern Vietnam. There he witnessed the distress of rice growers struggling with the abnormal growth of a harmful insect called the brown plant hopper.

      He selected IR26, which is resistant to noxious insects, from the several rice varieties he received from the IRRI. However, the farmers refused to try the new variety, finding it difficult to believe the word of a new teacher who had studied abroad.

      This prompted Xuan to use a morning radio program popular among farmers in those days. He called upon the farmers to use the new variety during the show and distributed 1kg of rough rice to each farmer who came to the radio station. The number of visitors increased and the rice yield grew rapidly.

      However, harmful pests infested the crop again in 1976, when a new type of insect resistant to IR26 appeared, prompting Xuan to switch to IR36, also from the IRRI.

      Spreading rice

      Initially he experienced the same difficulties in popularizing the new variety. With the country still in confusion following the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, Xuan used college students to spread the new variety. He taught the students how to grow the rice, and, working in teams with teachers, they visited farmers, bringing rough rice with them. Their efforts were widely accepted and the insects were wiped out in eight months.

      When Xuan started to teach agricultural technologies, Vietnam was still in the midst of war. His wife was opposed to their return to the country from the Philippines in 1971, and he only managed to persuade her by making the president of Cantho University promise not to send him to the front lines.

      The real front line was the farm, he said. On one occasion he made an appointment for a visit to a farmhouse to teach agricultural technologies but he was politely turned away. He was told later that soldiers of the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam had been holding a council of war at the farmhouse that day.

      Xuan was working on a doctoral thesis at Kyushu University at the beginning of 1975. With newspapers reporting that the Vietnam War was close to ending, he was torn between two choices - return home or remain in Japan.

      What prompted him in the end to go back to Vietnam was the thought of farmers there after being amazed by the affluent lifestyles of agricultural workers in Kyushu. He wondered why Vietnamese farmers remained poor despite working hard and decided his mission was to teach them the knowledge he had obtained.

      He returned to Vietnam on April 2, immediately before the fall of Saigon.

      Surviving free trade

      Xuan is currently doing his utmost to improve the quality of rice, so that Vietnamese rice exports will survive even under a free trade system. Farmers affectionately call him the "farmer doctor."

      Born in 1940 in Chaudoc Province (currently Angiang Province), Vietnam, he got a master's degree in agriculture from the University of the Philippines in 1969. After serving as a researcher at the IRRI, he returned to Vietnam in 1971. He was awarded his doctorate from Kyushu University in 1975.

      He served as a member of the National Assembly of Vietnam from 1981 to 1997 and received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service in 1993. He was nominated the first rector of Angiang University when the university was established in 2000.

      Speech text / May 20, 2002

      President Takuhiko TSURUTA, CEO of Nihon Keizai Shimbun,
      Chairman Gaishi HIRAIWA and Distinguished Members of the Nikkei Asia Prizes Selection Committee,
      My Esteemed Japanese Colleagues and Friends,
      Distinguished Guests,
      Ladies and Gentlemen,

      This is a great moment for me, my family, and the members of my institution, to receive this great award from the most prestigious news media of Asia, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc. Not only the people in Japan and Asia but also many well-informed business people are reading the news from NIKKEI every day because we know that any change in the Japanese economy would affect greatly the economy of the world. As a fellow Asian, I am very proud of Japan, an Asian country that has such a real economic strength. By following the NIKKEI indexes on the Tokyo Stock Exchange market we can feel the breathing of Japanese economy, and by reading the NIKKEI, either in the print edition or in the leading most popular electric form NIKKEI WEEKLY Online, or the NIKKEI Net Interactive Online, we can learn a great deal the economic situation of Japan and of the world. Furthermore, the NIKKEI Asia Prizes since 1996 are regarded as measures of the accomplishment in a number of sectors in the developing economies of Asia. The NIKKEI Asia Prize for Regional Growth awarded to me this year is indeed a recognition for the achievements made by the people of Vietnam under the governance of the Communist Party and the Government of the Socialist Republic Vietnam. Ceaselessly we are doing our best to contribute toward peace and social security of the region. We are also contributing a significant part to the food security of some of our Asian neighbors and many other countries in the world.

      Looking back to history, we Vietnamese barely had enough time for economic development: more than one thousand years under Chinese domination, more than a hundred years under the French followed by more than 30 years of American wars. When we finally got peace and unification in 1975, we face a new kind of war: the war against poverty, food insecurity, and backwardness. This is the biggest challenge we ever had, to rebuild the war-torn country under the embargo of big economic powers of the world. We made some mistakes at first, but we soon learned to give more incentives to the people. The birth of the doi moi -or renovation- policy continues to flourish ever since 1981 starting with a reform in agricultural policy. Since then, poverty is constantly being reduced and people's welfare is improved remarkably. Today our food production has reached surplus levels that place Vietnam among the top three world exporters of rice. Political stability and bright prospects for export to the US, EU and Japan have increased both domestic and foreign investors' confidence in Vietnam. GDP growth has been increasing steadily due to favorable foreign investment of USD1.2 billion and more than 21,000 domestic businesses with a combined capital of VND26.5 trillion (USD1.76 billion) in 2001. Standing by these national achievements, I and my university colleagues feel very proud of the little contributions we have made from our agricultural education-research-extension activities in the Mekong Delta since 1975. We have foreseen a likelihood of food shortage not only in a country just freshly recovered from a long war but also in many other countries around us. Thus we must give an all out effort toward securing food production of this region to restore the rice export position that Vietnam used to play before the American war. We have developed appropriate agricultural technologies such as high yielding rice varieties and the package of techniques to accompany each new variety; sustainable farming systems for various agroecosystems; profitable management of acid sulphate soils and saline affected soils of the Mekong Delta. We educated thousands of students and involved them in both research and extension works. We teachers and students went beyond our university's walls to transfer the developed technologies to local government officers, extension workers, and farmers. In 1978, the brown planthopper infestation destroyed virtually all the high yielding rice areas of the Mekong Delta. It caused widespread famine to hundreds of thousand rice farmers. We closed the university for two months and send our 2,000 students to work with farmers all over the delta to fight the dreadful insect. Armed with one-kilogram of brown planthopper resistant rice seed, each student was taught to guide the farmers to plant 1,000 sq m of rice land. Ordinarily farmers need at least 10 kg seed to plant the same area. Thanks to the new technologies, farmers were able to combat the brown planthopper, restored their production within two cropping seasons. Ever since, we continuously gave technical advice the farming communities to help increase their income and at the same time protect their environment. We also tested various farm management systems and agricultural policies to recommend to the government. One noted example is the land management policy that assures farmer's incentives to use the land while the state maintains full control of the land. We were not alone in this endeavor. Many companions have been on our side: the newspapers, the radio, and the television timely spread out the information we developed. Without them it would be impossible to reach out the technology-hunger people. In our research and training activities, many international organizations, be it a non-government organization, an international research institute (particularly the International Rice Research Institute) or a university, have come to our help in terms of funding, equipment, breeding materials, or expert guidance. My professors and colleagues at Kyushu University and some other Japanese universities have tirelessly supported my research program with needed materials. Clearly, the little part that I and my university colleagues have contributed toward the growth of my country would not have been so successful without the concerted effort of the people I mentioned above. Therefore I want to share the honour of this NIKKEI ASIA Prize with all my professional colleagues, my friends in the mass media, and my dear Vietnamese farmers. Of course this honour also belongs to my wife and children whose sympathy for my frequent absence from home has enhanced vigor to my work in the field.

      President TSURUTA, Chairman HIRAIWA and Distinguished Guests present today! I am very grateful to The Selection Committee for having selected me this year's NIKKEI ASIA Prize for Regional Growth. In acceptance of this Asia honour, I wish to assure you that I shall try my best to contribute toward a more rapid growth of Vietnam in harmony with the region. The next step for Vietnam is to stand among the members of the WTO. There will be opportunities as well as challenges. For us the basic way to minimize challenges and maximize opportunities is a globalized education and training for the whole society. That is my endeavor in the years to come.

      Thank you.


    • Technological Innovation

      The Department of Medical Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya (Head, Mr. Lam Sai Kit = center)

      The Department of Medical Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Technological Innovation in honor of its work in successfully isolating the Nipah virus, the cause of the animal-borne encephalitis that killed more than 100 people.

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      The Department of Medical Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya (Head, Mr. Lam Sai Kit = center)

      Fighting new disease took guts, determination, skill After 100 people died, team had to race against time to isolate new virus

      staff writer

      KUALA LUMPUR - In September 1998 an unknown virus, soon to be known as the Nipah virus, struck Malaysia; 265 people were infected and over 100 died through the following year.

      This often lethal form of encephalitis was first thought to be Japanese encephalitis, but the Department of Medical Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, the University of Malaya, discovered that it was caused by something never before seen.

      The outbreak hit Ipoh, a farming region in the northern state of Perak. Victims became delirious with fever and developed encephalitis, leading to death for many. Because all the victims worked on pig farms, the government health care organization thought it was Japanese encephalitis, which normally affects several dozen Malaysians each year.

      To exterminate mosquitoes, the vector for the Japanese disease, workers sprayed insecticide on thousands of pig farms and neighboring houses and provided Japanese encephalitis vaccine to tens of thousands of people in the risk group.

      But the disease continued to spread and took the lives of at least 95 people in the first six months. Unexpected effects appeared that indicated the disease was something different: pigs and working-age men were dying, whereas Japanese encephalitis mostly attacks old people and children, and never pigs.

      'Most exciting time'

      The government went to the Department of Medical Microbiology for advice. On March 1, 1999, the department received samples of spinal and other bodily fluids taken from a man found dead on a pig farm in Sungei Nipah, after which the virus was named. The department's professor Lam Sai Kit recalls the following five days as "a most exciting time."

      The department was asked by the government to determine whether the patient had Japanese encephalitis. Anticipating that the man had something else, the researchers rose to the challenge of fighting an unknown virus with limited equipment. They decided to cell-culture the virus.

      They then tested the cultured virus against antibodies that would identify every known strain of encephalitis. All the tests were negative. The University of Malaya research team worked to determine from the shape and behavior of the virus, which it isolated in five days, that it was different from the Japanese encephalitis virus.

      Lacking the equipment to fully identify the virus, the department took a sample to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. The virus was found to be a previously unknown strain, something close in nature to Hendra, a virus discovered in Australia in 1994.

      The department then conducted a field investigation and discovered that an indigenous species of fruit bat is the carrier of the virus. Using the team's results, the Malaysian government stopped the spread of the disease by culling about 900,000 infected pigs.

      Major threat

      New diseases caused by little-known viruses like HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, Ebola, and others are becoming a major threat to humans. With the increasing mobility of people and goods around the world, there is a danger that one of these diseases could spread quickly.

      Lam says that it is the mission and obligation of the scientist to deal with national and global crises, in spite of the dangers. The courage of such dedicated scientists is growing increasingly important.

      Speech text / May 20, 2002

      On behalf of the Department of Medical Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, I would like to thank Nihon Keizai Shimbun for honoring us with the prestigious Nikkei Asia Prize for Technological Innovation.

      This Prize honors the research team in the department who fought long and hard to identify the etiologic agent during the 1998/1999 viral encephalitis outbreak which claimed the lives of 105 pig farmers. Fear and emotion ran high throughout the country, particularly among those directly affected, as the control measures initiated by the government against what was thought to be Japanese encephalitis (JE) did not seem to work. JE, caused by a virus through mosquito bites, is a disease endemic in Malaysia and pigs act as the amplifying host. However, JE virus does not generally cause disease in pigs, unlike this virus, and children not adults run the greatest risk of being infected.

      In this mysterious viral encephalitis outbreak, it was noted that some of the infected pigs had severe respiratory symptoms which progressed to paralysis. In addition, the cases were reported mainly among adult male farmers who had close contact with the animals and not among family members, including children, who also lived in the farm. The country spent a large sum of money on insecticides used to kill mosquitoes in infected farms. A larger sum of money was also spent to purchase JE vaccine from a well- established company in Japan. Despite all these efforts and huge amount of money spent, the outbreak spread to several major pig-farming areas in Malaysia. It also spread to an abattoir in Singapore through the importation of pigs from Malaysia, resulting in eleven cases and one death.

      As with most outbreaks in Malaysia, the Ministry of Health played a pivotal role in investigating this mysterious epidemic. After five months of treating it as JE, our department was called in to render assistance when the disease spread to the largest pig rearing farms in the country. It is not unusual for large farms to house several thousand animals crowded together under poor farming practice. The outbreak became so severe that the government hospital in the affected area could not cope with the number of sick and dying patients and patients were referred to the University of Malaya Medical Centre where the Department of Medical Microbiology is located. It has now been estimated that four out of ten cases died, and what is even more frightening is the fact that some patients who recovered, had clinical relapse even today although the country has been declared free of Nipah virus.

      Against this terrifying scenario, you can imagine the pressure that was brought on us to identify the mysterious virus. The department worked day and night on clinical specimens, using whatever technical skills it possesses. On the fifth day, we struck pay-dirt when a virus isolated from the spinal fluid of a patient working in a farm in Sungei Nipah caused destruction of infected cell cultures. Unfortunately, despite using all the skills we have, we were unable to identify this virus although we did exclude many known viruses as the cause, including JE.

      This was where the linkages of the department with international agencies established over many years came into use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, USA, the leading organization for global outbreak investigation, helped to identify the virus as one related to an Australian virus known as Hendra. However, it was not identical to Hendra and the name Nipah virus was given to this newly emergent deadly Malaysian virus belonging to the family Paramyxoviridae. With the help of CDC and several scientists from Australia, the virus was identified within 17 days and the strategy of control changed from vaccination against JE and killing of mosquitoes with insecticides to culling of pigs in infected farms and the implementation of proper precautions for those who came into contact with these animals.

      Like the Australian Hendra virus, it was speculated that Nipah virus also has a natural reservoir. The department was able to isolate an identical strain of this virus from the urine of fruit bats, incriminating them as one of the wildlife reservoirs. It has been speculated that fruit bats were forced by poor environmental conditions, especially the haze from agriculture waste fires in the region, to migrate to pig farms in search of food and pigs became infected and amplified the virus, passing it to their handlers. The impact of the discovery has far reaching implications on human health and the economy of the country. The surveillance programme in pig farms has been on-going and since there has been no evidence of Nipah infection in the last two years, the country has been declared free of this dreadful virus and we can revive the important pig industry. By using drastic control measures, including the culling of 1.1 million pigs, Malaysia has managed to prevent the spread of the virus to countries in the region. The discovery of a new virus, especially one as deadly as the Nipah virus, is a very exciting event for the global scientific community. Many excellent papers have been published by the research team as well as by overseas collaborators. We are proud that our joint paper with CDC in SCIENCE 2000; 288: 1432- 1435 was given the Charles C. Shepard Science Award for scientific excellence.

      The sacrifice and hard work of the department staff have been recognized with a number of awards. All these would not have been possible without good teamwork and the collaboration of many. The department would like to place on record the inspiring and pivotal role played by Prof. Chua Kaw Bing, a former member of the department, for the discovery of the Nipah virus, and regret his absence at this award ceremony.

      The Nikkei Asia Prizes are designed to recognize outstanding achievements that improve the quality of life in Asia and contribute to regional stability through important initiatives by Asians that will benefit people in the region. It is indeed a great honor that the Department of Medical Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, has been chosen to receive the Prize for Technological Innovation for the discovery of Nipah virus. On behalf of my department, I would like to thank Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc. for the award of this prize, which will go a long way for us to continue our fight against new and emerging infectious diseases.


    • Culture

      Mrs. Christine Hakim (left)

      Mrs. Christine Hakim, actress and film producer, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture in honor of her efforts to produce films that focus on the lives of ordinary people. Her collaborative efforts with others in Asian film industry have contributed to the development of Asian cinema.

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      Mrs. Christine Hakim (left)

      Actress relishes role of activist Indonesian filmmaker tries to depict lives of oppressed in her films

      staff writer

      JAKARTA - "Films aren't just lengths of celluloid," said Indonesian actress and producer Christine Hakim. "I think they're a means to connect with people from all walks of life." Her strong social convictions brought tears to her eyes as she spoke.

      Hakim has tackled the reality of Indonesian life, including poverty, discrimination and political oppression, sometimes incurring the government's wrath.

      She began working in film in her second year of senior high school when part-time work as a fashion model caught the eye of leading movie director Teguh Karya. She received a movie offer, however she wanted to decline as she planned to go to university. She ended up interviewing with a producer, and "because I was careful not to be impolite to my elders, I didn't have a chance to say 'no'," she said.

      She received the Best Actress award at Indonesia's main film festival for her debut movie "Cinta Pertama" ("First Love") in 1973, determining her career. She has appeared in 30 films, including works that have won many awards in Indonesia and overseas, including the Special Jury Prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 1998.

      Prize role

      The prizes played a major role in promoting Indonesian movies overseas, and Hakim was chosen as a jury member for the Cannes Film Festival in May.

      In Indonesia, Hakim is known as the "national actress," and following her teen debut she was called the "Elizabeth Taylor of Indonesia" in the 1970s. Today, however, she is known for her involvement in social causes.

      She doesn't compromise when developing roles. When she played a prostitute, she spent time on the streets at night. When she was in a movie about the Aceh independence movement, she visited the area over a three-year period. "I drive myself until I get a feeling for the character," Hakim said. When she doubts a director's vision, she discusses her ideas until she is satisfied.

      Her activities are not limited to acting. She produced the movie "Pengemis Dan Tukang Becak" ("The Beggar and the Trishaw Driver") in 1978. "I was tired of being a romantic movie idol," she said. "I wanted to work on other themes."

      In 1998, she produced and starred in "Daun Di Atas Bantal" ("Leaf on a Pillow"), which was released in Japan. She played a woman who supports three street children in Yogyakarta, an ancient city in Java. Before shooting the movie, she visited slums to experience slum life first-hand.

      The movie led Japanese and Indonesian volunteer groups to set up a joint foundation whose secretariat works out of Hakim's office in Jakarta. The foundation's "moshi moshi selamat pagi (good morning)" movement has been delivering milk to poor children since 1999.

      "My role as an actress is to speak for the weak," Hakim said. Her movies depict the societal contradictions in a developing nation in which women want independence in a feudalistic society, and menial laborers in cities struggle to make ends meet.

      "I am not a politician so I'm not campaigning," she said. "However, I want people to know the reality of life in Indonesia." Asked if she felt she was a journalist, she simply smiled, her cheeks shining with tears.

      Hakim was born in 1956 on the major island of Sumatra. Her father was a customs officer and her mother a homemaker. Hakim led a normal life until she was scouted as a model while ice skating in Jakarta.

      She acted in Kohei Oguri's film "Nemuru Otoko" ("Sleeping Man") in 1996. When she returned to Indonesia after shooting finished, "I became homesick for Japan," she said. "Daun Di Atas Bental" won the grand prize at the Asia Pacific International Film Festival and enjoyed wide release.

      In 1990, Hakim received an Art award from the Indonesian government. She has also been named a "Chevalier de l'Ordre des Art et des Letters" by the French government.

      Two years ago, Hakim married a Dutch man who works for an insurance company. "I am tasting the magnificence of having someone with whom to share life's joys and sorrows," she said.

      Speech text / May 20, 2002

      First of all, I'd like to express my sincere apology for not attending this honorable ceremony. I don't know how to tell my regret for my absence and the chance I lost to gather with the people who presented me this great Prize and with those who I respect and love. I can't attend the ceremony because I have been given an important duty and responsibility as a jury at the Cannes Film Festival in France. I am convinced that my appointment for the jury symbolizes the reliance and respect given to all people associated with film making in Asia, and the expectation of the world toward them. Though I can't attend the ceremony, this never implies a lack of respect and love to all of the participants, especially Nikkei Shimbun and juries who decided to award this Year's Asia Prize in the field of culture to me. It is truly a great honor to receive this Prize. Also, the Prize encourages me to further endeavor to develop and maintain the existence of Asia, especially of the movie industry. For the past 29 years, that is more than half of my life, I have struggled in the movie world and came to believe that movie is not only a subject to watch, but an university and the source of knowledge which provides great meaning to our lives. Through movies, friendship can be formed with people from various national backgrounds in the world who share the same worries and problems. Since Asia has a large potential, I believe it is our duty and responsibility to develop, maintain, and guard it. With diligence, loyalty and unity among us, Asia will continue to be the future of us.

      I'd like to take this opportunity to express my congratulations to Prof. Vo Tong Xuan and Prof. Dr. Lam Sai Kit, for each receiving the Prize in the field of regional growth and in the field of technology. I wish their further achievements and good health.

      In conclusion, I would like to express my gratitude to all of you who have always supported me these years. My great family in Japan, my mother Ms. Etsuko Takano, my sister Ms. Yuko Ohtake and Ms. Sakiko Nishihiro, my brother Mr. Oguri Kohei, Mr. Tadayoshi Sato and Mr. Ueda, and my teacher Mr. Tadao Sato and his wife Mrs. Sato, Asagaya Family, The Japan Foundation, Iwanami Hall, NHK, Nihon Seinen Kyokai and all my friends whom I can't mention their names here one by one, but who have provided continuous help and support since 1982 when I first formed friendship with Japan.

      For the last 20 years, I have been friend of Japan, and now, Japan is my spirit and my second home.

      Christine Hakim.


  • 6th Winners


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    • Regional Growth

      Mr. N. R. Narayana Murthy (left)

      Mr. N. R. Narayana Murthy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Infosys Technologies Ltd., was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth in honor of his work in successfully founding Infosys Technologies and making it India's leading software company.

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      Mr. N. R. Narayana Murthy (left)

      Top exec stresses nobility of labor Unassuming entrepreneur emphasizes respect over mere profits

      Senior staff writer

      Narayana Murthy, chairman and chief executive officer of Infosys Technologies Ltd., is renowned in India as a self-made man. In a nation where conglomerates control most major businesses, Murthy turned a small software development venture he set up with his friends 20 years ago into one of the field's leading companies, with sales of 55 billion yen in fiscal 2000.

      In addition to his business success, Murthy's management style of distributing the company's profits to employees through a stock-option program has earned him praise and respect.

      Murthy was born in 1946 in a small town near Bangalore in southern India, which was at the time a British colony. His father, a junior-high school teacher, had four other children in addition to Narayana.

      The family was not wealthy, but the parents were enthusiastic about the education of their children, according to Murthy. "My parents wanted me to become a public servant but I dreamed of becoming an engineer who constructs power stations and other major projects," Murthy recalled.

      Murthy's interests shifted to electronics once he entered university. He used a computer for the first time in 1967 as a graduate student, and immediately realized its potential.

      One of the major turning points in Murthy's life came in the early 1970s, when he went to Paris to develop a cargo handling system for an international airport at the request of a French software company. It was his first trip abroad.

      India had a socialist government at the time, and much of its economy was subject to central control. Murthy was a left-wing activist and mingled with French communists during his stay in Paris but his ideas changed while traveling around Europe. "I realized that the only way to pull India out of poverty was to create more jobs. To create more jobs, we needed to set up new companies," he said.

      After returning to India, he set up Infosys Technologies in 1981 with six engineer friends on a shoestring budget of just $250. "Unlike conglomerates, we could only raise a small amount of money. In addition, we had to fight inefficient, bureaucratic systems and policies," Murthy recalled. It took a year just to get a phone line installed in the office. Nearly 30 trips to central government agencies in New Delhi and two years were needed to get permission to import computers.

      But economic reform in 1991 changed things dramatically. "Imports, overseas travel, fund-raising and various other restrictions were eased. Economic reform provided a great boost to start-ups like us," Murthy said.

      Following deregulation, IBM Corp. of the U.S. and other foreign information-technology companies expanded into India. "Foreign companies are our customers overseas but they are our rivals in the domestic market. Through competition, our technological level has improved," he said.

      Infosys Technologies grew sharply throughout the 1990s. The company was recognized repeatedly by U.S. magazines and others as among the world's best in terms of quality control and customer satisfaction. In 1999, the company became the first Indian firm to list on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

      One of the major factors enabling Infosys Technologies to improve its technological level was the stock- options program the company introduced in 1994. Some 10,000 employees have obtained company shares through the system. Approximately 2,000 of them have reached the million-rupee club, thanks to the rise in the share price.

      Murthy is also keen on charities. Part of Infosys Technologies' profit goes toward running a charitable organization that makes donations to educational institutions. In addition, Murthy donates his own money to such causes as relief for people affected by the major earthquake that hit the western part of India in January.

      Murthy is often described as a man of simple tastes. He does not drive expensive cars and works from early in the morning until late at night, even now. Soft-spoken, Murthy does not possess the air of arrogance that highly successful people often have. "In business management, it is more important to earn respect than to increase profits. I want to stress the nobility of labor," Murthy said.

      When interviewed by a Nihon Keizai Shimbun reporter at the headquarters of Infosys Technologies in Bangalore after receiving the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth, Murthy said India's future is in the hands of young people, and it gives him great pleasure to be considered a hero of India's youth.

      Speech text / June 6, 2001

      I am overawed by this honor bestowed on me by such a prestigious business group from Japan, the Jewel of Asia. This is an award to the 9000+ Infoscions - the employees of Infosys. I am grateful to Mr. Tsuruta and his colleagues as well as to the distinguished panel of judges led by Mr. Hiraiwa. Your encouragement is very important for us. We will continue to work honest, hard and smart to be worthy of your kindness.

      Corporate growth is a result of a compelling value proposition, focus, teamwork, dedication, a little bit of smartness and a lot of hard work. To achieve growth, you need the co-operation of all the stakeholders of the company - customers, employees, investors, vendor-partners and joint-venture-partners, the government of the land and, finally, the society-at-large. Such co-operation can be enhanced by the corporation adhering to the best practices of Corporate Governance (CG). CG is about maximizing shareholder value while ensuring fairness to all the stakeholders that I talked about earlier. It is about not creating asymmetry in benefits between various sections of shareholders, especially between the owner- managers and the rest of the shareholders. It is about operating as trustees of the shareholders-at-large. It is about being fair and having a long-term orientation. Finally, it is about having a sound value system.

      Why do we need to adhere to the best practices of CG?

      First and foremost, we value respect more than anything else. Our vision is to be a globally respected company.

      Second, we are a global company - 98% of our revenues, over 80% of our customers and about 30% of our investors are from developed nations such as yours. We are listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange and on NASDAQ, a global exchange. Thus, our customers and our investors have wide choices and will quickly abandon us if they see any violation of trust. Our employees are highly educated. They observe, collect and analyze data, and arrive at conclusions speedily. Further, we aspire to become multicultural by employing talent from other countries - particularly the developed countries. Here, again, our employees have wide choices and will aspire to work with the most respected companies in the world. Thus, it is necessary that we remain the employer-of-choice for these employees. We have vendor- partners from multiple countries. These partners want fairness from us as a requisite for long-term relationships.

      The Indian government has trusted us and reduced tax rates and custom duties for the IT industry. Further, we operate in eighteen countries; most of them are economically advanced nations. In these countries, since we are a foreign corporation from a developing country, exemplary corporate behavior from us is necessary to enhance the image of India and to build the credibility of Indian corporations. Let me now talk a little bit about the framework of beliefs on which we have based our CG practices.

      1. Putting public good ahead of private good will eventually lead to private good.

      2. In any civilized society, progress is predicated on trust, confidence and optimism in public institutions, and these should not be violated at any cost. Thus, we must eschew any temptation to use corporate resources for personal benefits. We must ensure fairness and the highest level of disclosure and transparency in all our transactions.

      3. For long-term success of a corporation, a sound value system is essential. A sound value system is the fundamental pillar of our CG practices. The value system must be articulated in a simple and straightforward manner so that the message is unambiguous and easy to practice. Our value system can be summed up as: It is better to lose a billion dollars than act in ways that will make us lose a good night's sleep. The most efficient way of ensuring the success of the value system is for the leaders to demonstrate it by example. Thus, corporate leaders will do well to heed the words of Mahatma Gandhi who said: You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

      Everything else can be bought but respect, trust, and confidence have to be earned the hard way. Thus, our task is cut out. We have to command respect and recognition from the most demanding of marketplaces - the G-7 countries. We have to demonstrate that an Indian company can be a global leader in CG. We will continue to work hard and smart but we need your support and your blessings in our quest to become the best practitioner of CG among all the companies on the NASDAQ. The kindness you have demonstrated today by this award is a clear indication that we have your encouragement. On behalf of 9000+ Infoscions, I thank you.


    • Technological Innovation

      Dr. Ho-Wang Lee (center)

      Dr. Ho-Wang Lee, President of the National Academy of Sciences, Republic of Korea, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Technological Innovation in honor of his work in isolating the Hantaan virus, the cause of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, and developing a vaccine and diagnostic method.

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      Dr. Ho-Wang Lee (center)

      Tenacity key to victory over virus Researcher's efforts reduced by 90% cases of hemorrhagic fever

      Senior staff writer

      Tracking down the cause of an epidemic disease is a difficult and demanding task. Is the causative agent some bacteria? Is it a virus? How is it transmitted? Lee Ho-wang, president of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Korea, has the kind of tenacity that is needed to meet the challenge head-on.

      In discovering the virus that causes hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS), Lee succeeded where many other scientists worldwide failed. His work has led to tremendous advances in the fight against this disease not only here in Asia but all around the world.

      For Lee, the discovery that the Hantaan virus is the cause of hemorrhagic fever "represented a victory for the brains of Asia." He said this because 200 U.S. scientists, including a Nobel Prize winner, tried to identify the cause of hemorrhagic fever during the 1950s and 1960s, yet after more than 10 years of research they were no closer to an answer than when they began.

      Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome is a serious acute contagious disease. Early symptoms include fever and headache, but as the disease develops it can lead to kidney dysfunction and bleeding under the skin and around the organs.

      Once the disease arises, doctors can only treat the symptoms, and patients face a 7-8% chance of death.

      Huge epidemic outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever occurred in the 1930s in the former Soviet Union and in northeastern China, and the serious nature of the disease was made clear to the United States in the early 1950s during the Korean War, when about 2,300 U.S. Army troops contracted the disease and some 800 died.

      Outbreaks continued after that, with yearly reports of 2,000 to 3,000 cases in South Korea, some 100,000 cases in China and around 12,000 cases in the former Soviet Union.

      Lee was a professor at Korea University Medical College when he discovered the Hantaan virus in 1976. Until then, the search for the cause of hemorrhagic fever focused on efforts to isolate the causative agent from hemorrhaging organs and the kidneys of stricken patients. However, all such efforts failed. Lee decided to look elsewhere. Working with funding from the U.S. military, he searched for possible animal carriers of the disease and eventually succeeded in isolating the virus from the lungs of the striped field mouse.

      "At first, the American researchers were skeptical about the discovery," he recalled. But eventually the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and research labs from other countries confirmed the finding.

      Having discovered the virus, Dr. Lee also got to name it. He chose Hantaan, the name of the river flowing in the central part of the Korean Peninsula near where the striped field mouse lives.

      The new ability to isolate the virus also enabled Lee to better diagnose the disease, and he began receiving requests for diagnoses from all around the world. During the Cold War he received requests from the Soviet Union and even from China, with whom South Korea at the time had no bilateral relations.

      Lee holds the position of director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Virus Reference and Research. In that capacity he has crisscrossed the globe over the past 20 years, making 26 trips to China and more than 100 trips worldwide, including missions to Europe and Africa.

      In short, Lee has made a huge contribution to the global diagnosis and prevention of hemorrhagic fever. But his contributions do not stop there; he has also developed a vaccine against the Hantaan virus. "South Korea began vaccinating people like military personnel, farmers and golfers, who are out in places where field mice live, since the mid-1990s, and that has reduced the incidence of hemorrhagic fever by 90%," Lee explained. "China also has a vaccine, and now one is being made in Europe too." In South Korea, Lee is regarded as someone worthy of the Nobel Prize in medicine. Since the award is often given to persons who have discovered the cause of a disease, this ultimate honor may one day come his way.

      In the meantime, Lee continues with a busy schedule, acting as the president of the National Academy of Sciences, helping the government formulate science policy and advising a life science research institute in the outskirts of Seoul, while continuing with his research activities, which include designing vaccines against viruses that resemble the Hantaan virus in other parts of the world.

      Speech text / June 6, 2001

      Honorable ladies and gentlemen from both this country and overseas, everyone concerned from Nihon Keizai Shinbun, and the chairman of the examining committee, I am very happy and also feel very honored today to receive the 2001 Nikkei Asia Prize. I would like to share this honor with all of you, including my family, the professors who instructed me, and the research staff with whom I shared all my joys and sorrows in the lab.

      As a father as well as a husband, I have recently realized with regret that I have not been able to spend much time with my family. To my wife and my two sons who share the honor of being here today, I would like to give my appreciation for both supporting me wholeheartedly without complaining at all so that I could concentrate on my research, and for growing up sound and well.

      After graduating from university, I have devoted my whole life to education and research. I believe that the research achievements of the past fifty years were not achieved by myself alone, but were rather thanks to my professors who guided me, as well as the fruit of the efforts of the research staff who conducted the research together.

      Epidemic hemorrhagic fever is an incurable disease with a high death rate, and at present approximately 200,000 cases are found worldwide every year. This disease was first found in China and Russia in the 1930's. In particular, several thousand cases occurred among Japanese and Soviet soldiers during World War II, and during the Korean War about 3, 250 U.S. soldiers suffered from this disease and more than 700 of them died. Because of that, it drew worldwide attention, and was once misunderstood as bacteriological warfare. Although scholars from all over the world continued research for several decades, the causative agent was never found until 1975. Seven years beginning this research, fortunately, I found bacteria in the lungs of a field mouse and named it the Hantaan virus after the Hantaan River flowing in the area where the mouse was collected. In 1980, I found a second bacterium for hemorrhagic fever from a rat collected in an apartment building in the city of Seoul and named it the Seoul virus.

      The route to this research was a severe thorny path. Though it is embarrassing to tell you, because Korea was very poor economically and there were no decent electric facilities in the 1960s, there was a time when I had to trouble a hospital to use a generator there. Moreover, since I could not raise money for research in my country, I received support from the United States for about 30 years from 1964 to 1993. Above all, since the virus causing the epidemic hemorrhagic fever, as well as its transmission route, were unknown in the initial period of the research, two researchers who were collecting rodeuts outdoors and five researchers who were experimenting in the lab using field mice that was infected and a rats for experimental use contracted the disease and were hospitalized hovering between life and death. I still feel constant regret, and never forget being thankful to them. Fortunately, none of them had to sacrifice their lives, so we were able to continue our research, but we had to close our lab as many as two times. Then, I was determined never to let this happen again in the lab, and to protect the people engaged in the research. In 1984 we started the development of a vaccine, and in 1990 we developed a vaccine that could prevent the epidemic hemorrhagic fever, which is currently used in Korea.

      For the past 30 years we have proceeded with joint research with 142 scholars from 42 countries in the world. What I remember most during the time is that we proved for the first time the fact that the cause of hemorrhagic fever in Russia and Europe was similar to that of the Hantaan virus, and we proved the fact that the outbreak of mysterious illness in Osaka, Japan in the 1960s, as well as those that occurred in animal experiment labs in various universities in Japan between 1970 and the beginning of 1980 were epidemic hemorrhagic fever. Then, as a result of proving along with Professor Ishida and Professor Kawamata that the animal carrying the virus was the rat used for experiments, we were able to take preventive measures. I developed a rapid diagnostic kits in collaborative with Dr. Tomiyama and Dr. Mitani.

      Creative fundamental research or high-level technological development is only possible through the great idea of a chief researcher, and endless efforts and cooperation by well-trained research staff members.

      Therefore, it is important for the chief to both physically and psychologically help all the staff participating in the research, and to make them feel a challenge building up their pride when the research they are working on is completed.

      Lastly, I would like to hope for the future infinite prosperity of Nihon Keizai Shimbun that is greatly contributing to the development of the Asian economy and scholarship, as well as deepening goodwill. Thank you very much.


    • Culture

      The Nepal Bhasa Dictionary Committee (Excutive Editor, Mr. T. R. Kansakar = right)

      The Nepal Bhasa Dictionary Committee, as an organization, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture in honor of its work in successfully compiling a dictionary of classic Newari. Nikkei believes this achievement will promote historical and cultural studies of Nepal and the surrounding region.

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      The Nepal Bhasa Dictionary Committee (Excutive Editor, Mr. T. R. Kansakar = right)

      Dictionary yields cultural insights Team worked for 20 years to compile dictionary of ancient Newari tongue

      staff writer

      The Nepal Bhasa Dictionary Committee has gathered regularly on the second floor of a quiet building overlooking the narrow streets of Kathmandu, Nepal, for more than 20 years to compile a dictionary of Newari, a minority language now spoken by only about 3% of the nation's population.

      The 15 members, who have continued with their primary occupations such as teaching, "all work for honor," according to project leader Kamal P. Malla, adding that the greatest reason for their success was that a good team was formed from the beginning.

      There are roughly 1 million Newars, one of the more than 30 ethnic groups that make up Nepal, living in and around Kathmandu Valley. Their mother tongue is a Tibeto-Burman language, while Nepali, the main language of the country, is Indo-Aryan.

      The importance of Newari is that it is one of the few languages in the Himalayan region that have left records in characters.

      The history and culture of the region have been recorded in epitaphs and literature since the seventh century, and among them are many texts about Hinduism and Buddhism, which were introduced from India.

      By deciphering texts written in classic Newari, one can derive important insights into how Indian culture was accepted into the Himalayan region, in addition to how the language has changed, Malla said. In 1980, Newar linguists started working on a Newari dictionary, the first such attempt in history. Documents written between 1115 and 1799 became the main material.

      Compiling a dictionary is time-consuming and involves a lot of hard work. Kashinath Tamot, linguist and professor at Tribhuhan University, who is one of the main members of the committee, said he intended to stake his life on the project, recalling how he felt when the work began.

      The committee fell into financial difficulty a number of times during the course of the project. It overcame the difficulties by obtaining financial assistance from other countries, including Japan, investing its funds, and putting a person in charge of financial affairs. One of the most astonishing aspects of the project was that the team used only one old computer to put together the entire dictionary.

      In 1991, Prem Bahadur Kansakar, the founder of the committee and its spiritual leader, passed away. The members were able to endure the adversity because of the joy of experiencing firsthand the process of development of their language, culture and society, Malla said.

      The committee takes pride in Newars, who have always performed their role as an intermediary and catalyst for conveying cultures between India and China.

      "The Dictionary of Classic Newari" was published in September 2000. It contains more than 30,000 entries and just over 12,000 complex conjugations of verbs, which is considered the most striking characteristic of Newari.

      The dictionary has made it possible to find the equivalents of classic Newari words in any language, including Nepali, English and Sanskrit.

      The next stage of the project remains to be undertaken. It consists of a plan to compile a dictionary that contains technical terms, including those related to medicine, mathematics, astrology, astronomy and religious rites. At present, it is uncertain when the new stage will be launched, because of a shortage of funds and the rapid decline in the number of Newar specialists.

      Unable to find the time to indulge themselves in the joy of winning the Nikkei Asia Prize, the members of the committee continue to pursue their research and apply their energies to nurturing young scholars who may succeed them in the future.

      Speech text / June 6, 2001

      1. The Newari language, variously known as Nepal Bhasa, Newari, Newar or simply as Newa Bhae, is a Tibeto-Burman (T-B) language, the mother tongue of the Newars who are generally recognized as the earliest settlers of the Kathmandu Valley, also known as the Nepala Mandala. Out of nearly 250 languages in this branch, Newari is one of the four which have written traditions - the others being Tibetan, Burmese and Manipuri. Its importance for historical and comparative linguistics need not be emphasized.

      2. "The Newars have long occupied a culturally important place among the Himalayan peoples. Over the centuries they have developed a complex and an advanced culture which contains elements taken from both the great Sanskrit traditions of India to the South and the traditions of Tibet and China in the North.

      3. The Nepala Mandala therefore is an important Himalayan cultural centre and cultural crossroads, and Newari is notable for being one of the oldest Himalayan languages with a written tradition and a very rich literature. Documents in Newari have now been traced as far back as the 12th century A.D., while full manuscripts written in the old form - known as Classical Newari - date from the end of the 14th century A.D.

      4. Although Newari is the key language in many fields of research in the Himalayan region - anthropological, religious, literary and linguistic - there are still many obscure and hence controversial areas in historical phonology, verb morphology and conjugation systems, and the placement of Newari within the Bodic grouping of languages.

      5. Classical Newari is obviously a crucial area for such research, and scholars have long felt the need for reliable reference works on the language as it occupies a unique position in the study of the development of T-B languages in general and the Himalayan languages in particular. A Classical Newari Dictionary will also have important applications in the study of the cultural history of Himalayan South Asia and in particular the rich culture of the Kathmandu Valley. It has thus been the expectation of all the researchers involved in this project that the present Dictionary of Classical Newari will be an essential tool for the study and research in history, culture, art, languages and literatures of the Himalayan region.

      The Nepal Bhasa Dictionary Committee Project

      1. The Nepal Bhasa Dictionary Committee (NBDC) Project was initiated by late Prem Bahadur Kansakar, and the Committee itself was actually established over 20 years ago on 26 January 1980 with the two noble objectives to compile monolingual and bilingual Dictionaries of Contemporary Newari and Classical Newari to fulfil the need for reliable reference works in the language. As one of the Committee members, Mr. Iswarananda Shresthacarya, had already a sizeable corpus of contemporary Newari words, the Committee drew up a proposal to sponsor its editing and publication. The German Research Council approved it, and funded its publication.

      2. NBDC conceived and formulated the project in three phases : the first phase launched in 1983 was to compile a lexicon of Classical Newari from 11 bilingual Sanskrit - Newari Amarakosas (1381 - 1900 A.D.). This phase was funded by the Toyota Foundation. The Amarakosa materials were also later re-compiled in 1987 - 94 as a concordance for ease of reference in various semantic domains. It was funded by the National Endowment of Humanities, USA. This phase of the project was compiled by Kashinath Tamot and edited by Ian Alsop, Saraswati Tuladhar, Omi Sharma and Gurusekhar Sharma. This lexicon and concordance are now both available on-line over the Internet.

      3. The present Dictionary, launched formally by the wife of late Prem Bahadur Kansakar on September 11, 2000 is the result of the second phase of the project, namely the long-awaited Dictionary of Classical Newari compiled and edited by two separate teams and coordinated by the Project Leader and Chief Editor Professor Dr. Kamal Prakash Malla. This phase of the project was completed by the generous financial support of the Toyota Foundation of Japan from 1982 to 1992.

      4. The work on the present Dictionary began in January 1986 and by the end of November 1992 the compilors and editors had prepared a working draft with a total corpus of 30,942 records of attested Newari words drawn from 99 different source manuscripts including literary genres such as drama, narrative texts, poetry and songs; didactic and legal documents (known as tamsuk-s), historical chronicles such as the Vamsavali-s, and diaries of social history called the Thyasaphu-s.

      5. It was envisaged that the target audience or the potential users of the Dictionary will be : (a) non-native experts, research scholars or the students of the Newari language who may need to consult an authoritative bilingual dictionary prepared by Newar scholars of repute for diachronic and etymological information on the language. (b) native speakers of Newari who may wish to refer to or cite an authoritative Newari lexicon to be acquainted with the historical development of the language.

      6. The only previous attempt to fill this need, namely the Danish scholar Hans Jorgensen's A Dictionary of the Classical Newari (1936), although a valuable step in this direction, is essentially a preliminary effort limited in scope and hampered by a lack of sufficiently varied source materials. The most serious shortcoming of Jorgensen's Dictionary is that it is based entirely on relatively late - 17th century A.D. or later - manuscripts of narrative prose.

      7. The present Dictionary is more comprehensive in coverage, and will serve to provide researchers in several fields of Nepal and South Asian Studies - historical, cultural, literary and linguistic - with a valuable research tool. The Committee has at present one of the largest databases and corpus of lexical material in any Tibeto-Burman languages.

      8. The third phase of the Project was planned to be a Dictionary of the technical and ritual language and other miscellaneous texts. But this part of the project has not yet been conceived or implemented for two reasons : one, there are a vast number of technical and ritual texts including those on Astrology and Astronomy, Ayurvedic medicine, Metal Craft and Architecture on the one hand, and a wealth of materials on tantricism and various ritual practices of the Newars, on the other. Secondly, there is today a distinct lack of expertise / skilled manpower to analyse and interpret such materials.

      9. However, the present Nikkei Asia Prize awarded to the NBDC by Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc has provided us a fresh source of inspiration and encouragement to carry out the third phase of the project. The Project Leader, Professor Malla, has already sought the advice and assistance of available experts and specialists in order to conceive methods of selection of relevant materials and plans of operation. Given the financial resources now at our disposal, our priority presently is to assemble a team of dedicated experts who can implement the third phase of the project to a successful conclusion.

      10. In conclusion, I would like, on behalf of the Nepal Bhasa Dictionary Committee, to express my sincere gratitude to the President of Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc for nominating the publication of the Dictionary of Classical Newari (2000) for the 6th Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture, and to the Chairman and members of the Nikkei Asia Prizes Selection Committee for recognizing our efforts to sustain indigenous cultures and to promote cultural activities in Nepal and the neighbouring areas of the Himalayan region. We are greatly honoured by this award which will most certainly encourage us to set higher targets in the future. Thank you.


  • 5th Winners


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    • Regional Growth

      Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi (right)

      Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce, Thailand, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth in honor of his efforts in promoting the development of a market economy in Thailand and trade liberalization and cooperation among ASEAN countries.

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      Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi (right)

      Helping open the doors of trade Thai economist, politician to co-head WTO, push for developing-nation role

      staff writer

      "I still want to become a medical doctor," says Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce Supachai Panitchpakdi. "I have always wanted to do something to save people's lives ever since I was in my teens."

      That desire also served as a motivating factor when he was studying to earn a doctorate in economics. Supachai was allowed to skip grades to finish his secondary education and was admitted into medical college. He was spotted by a Bank of Thailand official who was recruiting promising young people and persuaded the medical student to work for the central bank, saying an economist can save more people than a doctor.

      He left medical college after just one year and in 1963 won a scholarship to study in Europe for 10 years. He majored in economics under Nobel laureate Jan Tinbergen at Erasmus University in the Netherlands and continued his research as a visiting fellow at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. During his long stay in Europe, he became convinced that multilateral trade should be promoted only after due consideration has been given to the needs of developing nations.

      After supervising financial institutions for the Thai central bank, Supachai entered politics. There, he pushed for deregulation and was appointed deputy premier and minister of commerce by Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai in 1997, amid Thailand's economic turmoil. Despite his limited political experience, he was called on to help lift the nation's economy out of its severe slump.

      Supachai has also been active on the diplomatic scene. He played a key role in launching the Asia- Europe Meeting (ASEM), which is made up of 25 Asian and European nations and the European Commission.

      He also called on neighboring nations to step up economic cooperation, which resulted in the creation of the BIST-EC in June 1997. The group, which originally consisted of Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand, was later joined by Myanmar. Supachai formed the group in the belief that the multilateral cooperation called for by the World Trade Organization should be premised on close regional cooperation.

      Supachai enjoys a clean image in a country where many politicians are tainted by scandal. The mild- mannered minister has a reputation for never raising his voice even in heated debates. His low-key style, however, appears to be affecting his position within the government's inner circle.

      Some political observers say that Supachai, who seems to have little political ambition of his own, appears to have been eclipsed by the more vocal Finance Minister Tarrin Nimmanahaeminda.

      Amid the shifting political climate in Thailand, a new opportunity presented itself for Supachai to demonstrate his economic skills in the international arena when he entered the contest for leadership of the World Trade Organization.

      After acrimonious wrangling, member nations finally agreed to let Supachai and former New Zealand Prime Minister Mike Moore share the next term.

      The U.S. in particular tried hard to block Supachai's election because it didn't like his stance favoring developing nations.

      The Thai minister will serve as WTO head for three years from September 2002 through August 2005.

      When he won the top WTO job, Supachai pledged to construct a trade framework in which developing nations can play a more active role. Observers say he thus expressed his intention to counter the dominance of the U.S. and other rich nations.

      Speech text / June 7, 2000

      Chairman of the Nikkei Asia Prizes Selection Committee
      President and CEO of Nihon Keizai Shimbun Inc. (Nikkei)
      Winners of the Nikkei Asia Prize
      Ambassador of Thailand to Japan

      Today I am deeply honored to receive this worthy prize. I am deeply moved and gladdened that the results of the work into which I have poured mind, body and soul for more than 20 years are known and valued by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc., a prominent organization that works to transmit information and knowledge and carry out economic cooperation.

      Though this prize was granted to me as an individual, I want to take this opportunity to say that many persons in governmental and private organizations worked with me in this endeavor to build cooperative relationships among countries over more than 20 years. I receive this prize today on behalf of all those who worked with me for these many years.

      In these the world is confronting both the positive and negative aspects of globalization. I believe that mutual understanding and cooperation among all countries in the aspects of economics, government, society and technology is the only way the people and communities of the world can hope to escape inequalities and conflicts. The path of cooperation aims at improving and developing the lives of people at all socio-economic levels in all countries, and to eradicate poverty in the future.

      Actually, we have already been working for some time to build cooperative relationships among countries in the Asian Pacific region. I wish to solidify peace and harmony within the Asian Pacific region through mutual cooperation. Such cooperative relationships aiming at development must continue to progress and the development must become permanent. The relationships must also work to make the lives of the people in the region equally prosperous.

      Honored guests, some time ago I carried out activities to become Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), because I understood the importance of the multilateral trade structure. The World Trade Organization plays the central role in that structure. That is to say, it is engaged in making global trade free and fair and of increasing inter-regional trade not only in the Asian Pacific region but in other regions as well.

      When I assume the role of Director-General of the WTO, I will do everything in my power to increase the importance of trade between various regions of the world. I will work to enable all countries to participate in global trade on an equal playing field. I am touched by the fact that the Japanese government and the Japanese people understand this point quite well. When I was carrying out activities in order to assume the post of Director-General of the WTO, I constantly felt the support of the Japanese government and the Japanese people. Thanks to them, it was determined that in two year's time I would assume the post of Director-General, an important post for promoting free, fair, and equal trade in various regions of the world.

      I consider it indispensable for all countries--advanced, developing, or underdeveloped--to understand their own and other countries' problems in order to eradicate inequalities and conflicts and to build harmonious cooperative relationships. This is my philosophy. Japan's development has exemplified this philosophy, and all my work to date has incorporated Japan's development as a model.

      What I want to stress is that Japan has taken the central and guiding role from the beginning in furthering friendly relationships and economic cooperation among all countries. This is true at all levels-- regional, local, and governmental. From now on as well, I hope that Japan will cooperate with us in developing Asia.

      Asia has experienced a financial crisis for the past two or three years but, conversely, Asia also may be in a position to play the role of pulling the world economy toward a stable, balanced state.

      Receiving the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth has reinforced my courage and determination. I resolve to use all my strength, knowledge and abilities to achieve cooperative relationships within the Asian Pacific region and to expand economic and trade cooperation outside the region as well.

      Lastly, I express my deepest thanks to Mr. Gaishi Hiraiwa, Chairman of the Nikkei Asia Prizes Selection Committee and Mr. Takuhiko Tsuruta, President and CEO of Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc.. I extend hearty congratulations to the two persons who won prizes today. Thank you very much.


    • Technological Innovation

      The Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Singapore (Founding Director, Dr. Y. H. Tan = left)

      The Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Singapore was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Technological Innovation in honor of its contribution to biotechnology research with its impressive growth since its establishment in 1987 into the first major center of biological science research in Asia.

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      The Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Singapore (Founding Director, Dr. Y. H. Tan = left)

      Singapore scores with researchers World-class facility attracts top scientists to tackle region's problems

      staff writer

      The common view about the rest of Asia is that despite its recent remarkable economic and industrial growth, it is still a region that lags hopelessly far behind the U.S., Europe and Japan in scientific research and the development of cutting-edge technology. But that view is likely to start changing with the establishment of a number of world-class research facilities.

      The Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, affiliated with the National University of Singapore, is one such facility. Focusing on life phenomena at the genetic level and the development of drugs and new treatments for diseases, the institute specializes in fields of biotechnology such as human genome analyses now at the forefront of scientific examination.

      The reputation of the institute has been growing as more and more of its research appears in print in international science magazines such as Science and Cell, as well as in the classic in the genre, Nature. Few Asia-based research organizations have been able to keep up such a steady stream of groundbreaking research results.

      The institute was set up in 1987. Its founding director, Dr. Y.H. Tan, recalled that at first, starting from nothing, the project seemed as promising as planting trees in a desert. Singapore officials had decided to set up a biotech lab after designating life science as a strategic field of research. They entrusted the start-up of the project to Tan, a leading medical researcher who was then a professor at the University of Calgary in Canada.

      Tan and fellow Singapore-native Professor Louis Lim from the University of London, sought out researchers who were willing to resettle in Singapore. The institute opened its doors with a staff that included 12 ambitious scientists.

      They adopted a strategy of entering into extensive cooperation with overseas individuals and organizations. The institute extended invitations to leading international researchers to serve as visiting advisers. One such adviser was Dr. David Baltimore, a Nobel laureate in molecular biology, who provided critical guidance on research themes.

      The institute also drew talent and research experience through contacts with foreign private-sector entities. It entered into a long-term agreement with British pharmaceuticals producer Glaxo Wellcome Plc shortly after opening its doors.

      More than 10 years later, the institute is now in what could be called harvest season as its long-term planning begins to bear fruit. In 1996, clinical tests began on an interferon drug produced at the institute. Agrochemical, biotechnology and cancer-research arms have recently been set up at the institute.

      Tan said the institute's greatest strength is the diversity of the researchers. Of a current research staff of about 220, about 160 are foreign nationals from 17 countries and regions, including about 50 from China, 30 from Malaysia and 10 each from Germany, the U.K., India and the U.S. The majority of the roughly 60 Singaporean nationals are themselves naturalized foreign-born citizens.

      There are great hopes for the field of biotechnology in Asia. Curing diseases peculiar to the region and solving food shortages are among the field's main targets. But Asia needs more such powerful research bases, Tan said. He now hopes to further strengthen ties with researchers in Japan, China and the rest of Asia.

      Japan has raised its biotech research budget in the past two years to try to catch up to the U.S. and European levels of research. But the country still needs to create an overall research environment that can attract some of the best researchers from around the globe.

      The vibrant growth of the Singapore institute is combining substantial results in an environment of the kind of diversity that characterizes Asia. It serves as an important example for those in charge of promoting scientific and technological activities in Japan.

      Speech text / June 7, 2000

      Science is an international affair. Asia has taken its place as a significant contributor starting with discoveries made by Asian scientists in the West and with increasing numbers of discoveries now emanating from the East.

      The first draft of the human genome sequence will be ready latest by this year, a sign of how fast the field of biology is moving today. The new millenium begins with the epoch of the human genome sequence, an event with historical parallels to the construction of the Periodic Table of Elements during the beginning of the last century. Both events represent systematic and taxonomic science with one arising from chemistry and the other from biology. It was not until the discovery of the nature of the elements that their activities became interesting. The discovery of uranium 235 which will undergo fission at critical mass gave rise to the age of physics impacting on the nature of the physical world. The discovery of growing perfect crystals of silicon gave birth to the electronic industry and the age of instant communications. The holy grail of modern biology lies in the uncovering of the functions and the regulation of the 50,000 to 150,000 genes encoded in the human genome. The unlocking of this knowledge will uncover the secrets of cell signalling, early and late embryonic development, differentiation, aging, regeneration and death. This will facilitate the treatment of malignant diseases, autoimmune, neurological and metabolic disorders as well as the rejuvenation of our environment. New biology will incorporate established disciplines belonging to the physical sciences for its computation and applications. Before long, work will begin to solve the problems of debilitating longevity that medical advances in the last century has raised. In the age of the new biology, one can expect longevity to include the critical element of functionality. Hopefully, the new age will bring with it effective solutions to rescue the environment as mankind reaches the crossroads for its survival.


    • Culture

      Dr. Pinyo Suwankiri (center)

      Dr. Pinyo Suwankiri, a Thai architect, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture in honor of his over 30 years of devotion to preserving traditional Thai architecture through teaching and his own design work. His achievements have contributed to reviving traditional architecture in the region.

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      Dr. Pinyo Suwankiri (center)

      Thai architect builds on nature Educator, activist combines traditional forms with his own unique vision

      staff writer

      Sthiradharma Sthana is nestled in lush foliage on the outskirts of Bangkok. Like all traditional Thai architecture, the Buddhist convent has elevated teak floors, sharply curving roofs and a large terrace. The structure, its beauty enhanced by its natural surroundings, is one of Pinyo Suwankiri's most significant creations.

      "Harmony with nature is particularly important for me because I was born and grew up in the country," says Pinyo.

      Bangkok teems with modern high-rises but even in the overbuilt Thai capital, a number of Buddhist temples and small shrines give people a respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.

      Pinyo is very attached to Thai tradition and produces new art forms by combining traditional Thai architecture with his own vision. He has long been active as an educator, trying to hand down tradition to younger generations, and as an activist, working to preserve old buildings and promote cultural activities.

      Pinyo was born the son of a civil servant in Sathingphra, Songkhlaa. At the age of 8, he already showed an interest in traditional Thai arts. He discovered the beauty of Thai design after he was adopted by his father's friend, Pathumthammathaarii, a Buddhist priest.

      The priest excelled at drawing patterns on paper, which were used for religious festivals. Pinyo never tired of looking at the artful designs and began trying his hand at the craft. Thanks also to the priest's disciples, who were generous with advice, Pinyo was soon able to create designs for use in theater, architecture and furniture.

      At the time he entered Chulalongkorn University, Thai architecture was generally regarded as a minor subject, Pinyo said.

      He continued to study traditional architecture, while most other students aspired to design modern buildings. But the other students turned to Pinyo for help when they were assigned a project to paint a mural for a Buddhist temple.

      Pinyo began working as an architect while still a university student and has since designed numerous temples, museums, college buildings and even the Thai King's villa. He has been commissioned to design Thai-style temples in the U.S., India and Nepal.

      The architect's major achievement was to elevate traditional building methods to an art form. In the past, Thai architecture relied mainly on time-tested designs. Pinyo, after making an in-depth study of traditional architecture, went on to create new designs while still adhering to the methods of older artisans. He has introduced innovations of his own such as the use of stainless steel and copper relief in his buildings.

      "You can create ordinary structures with a computer but there is a considerable artistic aspect to Thai architecture, and that is what I love," says Pinyo.

      After studying in the U.S., Pinyo taught at Chulalongkorn University for many years, where he revamped the university's curriculum to upgrade courses in Thai architecture. Meanwhile, Thailand's younger generation has developed an heightened interest in traditional architecture.

      The architect lives in Bangkok with his wife and three daughters. At the age of 63, Pinyo still has quite a youthful spirit. "That's because I leave money and other irksome matters to my wife and do only what I wish," he laughed. His next project is to write a textbook on Thai architecture for university students.

      "My goal is to always create something original and educate young people so that they can take over from my generation of architects," he said.

      Speech text / June 7, 2000

      President of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc., everyone from the Nikkei Asia Award Committee and all guests in attendance today, please allow me to begin today by offering my sincere gratitude to all the members on the Nikkei Asia Award Committee for selecting me as recipient of the prize in the culture category of the Nikkei Asia Award, which is granted great prestige in the Asian region. I am filled with joy at being able to return to my beloved country of Thailand with this ultimate of honors.

      I would like to mention that the works I have created to this time, which were just mentioned, are all born from a place of pure passion for the arts. Upon receiving this Nikkei Asia Award, great desire and energy arose from within me, including the hope to continue untiring efforts in my work throughout my entire life, and at the same time, that my work itself might fulfill the purpose of the Nikkei Asia Award. The great joy I feel on the occasion of attending today's awards ceremony springs from the great pride I feel in the three points I will mention next:

      1. That Thailand and Japan have continued to maintain a long-term relationship based on mutual friendship, that the relationship between the Thai and Japanese peoples has long been one like that between siblings, and that the relationship will be forever lasting. I feel very happy about such a situation.

      2. That the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc. has the will and desire to sponsor and carefully foster people in the Asian region who have been awarded prizes in the categories of technological development, economic progress and culture, for the sake of human and societal development in the Asian region. Such activities serve as a model for having the following generations engage in proper and righteous behavior, and they also serve to raise the standard of living of the people in this region. Moreover, Japan is generous in supporting its friends in Asia for development that is on par with that of other civilized countries in other parts of the world, in the areas of lifestyle, economy, society and culture.

      3. I have come to Tokyo to attend this Nikkei Asia Awards ceremony, and have been deeply impressed upon witnessing the high level of prosperity that Japan enjoys. Moreover, the spiritual prosperity of the people and the material prosperity of the nation are in balance with each other, which is the result of the Japanese people's incredible diligence and efforts made in various aspects of their lives, such as industry, science and technology, as well as culture and the arts, and shows the unrivaled identity that is Japan's.

      I myself work in the area of arts and culture, and this includes the work of teaching at a university. I teach undergraduate, Master's and Ph.D. programs at Chulalongkon University in Thailand. My work, which I have long carried out, involves architecture as traditional culture, serving as part of Thailand's identity. I would next like to talk about the motivation for my becoming engaged in this work.

      1. Just as Japan's venerated emperor is a symbol venerated by the Japanese people, Thailand is a nation with a revered king acting as the sovereign ruler unifying the hearts of the Thai people. When creating works of architecture or other arts and crafts, in particular in the case of Thai traditional arts, a feeling of dedication to our king is firmly fixed inside of me.

      2. Thailand's national religion is Buddhism. I also am Buddhist, and many people in our country are adherents of Buddhism. As an architect I have created many architectural structures in both Thailand and other countries as a tribute to the Buddha, in the faith of Buddhism. Those architectural works of art have been created according to the forms of traditional culture as conveyed to me by Buddhism.

      3. Most of the work in Thailand have been agricultural, and from the past until the present day, the lifestyles of the people of Thailand represented traditional culture itself and created the identity of architecture. This is reflected as the tranquil beauty in all the arts, such as architecture, creative arts, fine arts, and dance and music, and the like. This forms an identity overflowing with sensitivity in the various aspects of the arts, and I myself expend all my energies into preserving these traditions, hoping to create ever more wonderful works.

      In many ways, Thailand is still a developing country, and we receive aid from Japan in a number of fields, such as economics, industry, science and technology, and education, among others. Thailand is said to be a nation with a long history of culture and arts. If Thailand can further develop, improve the living standards of its people and become more prosperous, preservation of the arts and culture will continue, making possible the conveying of the Thai identity, and this will then further the aims of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc.

      I close by offering my prayers for the happiness and prosperity of the Japanese people.


  • 4th Winners


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    • Regional Growth

      Mr. Shi Wen Long (center)

      Mr. Shi Wen Long, Chairman of Chi Mei Corporation, Taiwan, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth in honor of his successfully establishing the world's biggest ABS resin maker by introducing an employee shareholding system and establishing a lean, efficient organization.

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      Mr. Shi Wen Long (center)

      Unique management philosophy pays off Innovative Strategies Help Shi Wen Long Foster Global Giant

      staff writer

      TAIPEI - The southern Taiwan city of Tainan has a rich history and has been on the global scene since the 16th century, when the Dutch built two castles there and made the city one of their trade hubs. Tainan is also where Chi Mei Corp., the world's largest maker of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) resin, is headquartered.

      The life of Shi Wen Long, the 71-year-old chairman of Chi Mei, in many ways mirrors the dynamic economic development of Taiwan. In 1953, Shi and his brothers began producing toys and household goods in Tainan. The operation grew into the largest company of its kind in Taiwan. But he went beyond building toys - he wanted something more. So in 1959, Shi entrusted the toy-making business to his brothers and entered the chemical industry to found Chi Mei Corp.

      His new company first focused on acrylic boards. To sell the products to processors, Chi Mei trained its own instructors to make improvements on the processing technology. This innovative sales strategy helped Chi Mei become Taiwan's largest maker of acrylic boards and earned Shi the title of "father of acrylic boards."

      ABS-resin production grew into a full-fledged business about 15 years ago. Chi Mei built large plants, helping the company substantially cut costs. Current output totals about 1 million metric tons a year, more than that of all Japanese makers combined.

      The Asian economic crisis has changed the shape of the ABS-resin market. The fall of the currencies of South Korea and Southeast Asian countries against the dollar triggered a flood of low-priced products from these countries, threatening Chi Mei's dominance of the ABS-resin market. To reverse the trend, the company set out to diversify. Chi Mei has established a business alliance with Fujitsu Ltd., a major Japanese computer maker, for production of thin-film transistor liquid crystal displays (LCDs). The company has secured a large plot in Tainan to begin production this year. Total investment for the first and second phase of the project is expected to amount to the equivalent of 160 billion yen ($1.3 billion). Besides production of thin-film transistor LCD, the company plans to produce LCD modules, combining the displays with its ABS resin.

      Shi has a unique management philosophy. Ethnic-Chinese businessmen often prefer their enterprises to be family-controlled. Shi, in contrast, separated ownership and management during the company's formative years. He once told his employees to reject any attempts by his relatives to intervene in the management of Chi Mei in the future, telling them to use a videotape of his pledge if necessary. He also chooses not to list Chi Mei's shares on the stock exchange, citing his distrust of the market.

      Chi Mei adopted a five-day workweek 12 years ago, still rare in Taiwan at that time. Shi works at his company only two days a week. "Our plant managers are like Japanese feudal lords," Shi said. "They should be given autonomy to make our company as competitive as possible." His company does not hire salespeople and takes orders by publishing price lists in newspapers. "Pushing products on the market is ineffective. Making the world's best products draws customers without the need for a big sales drive," Shi said. Despite slumping prices for raw materials, the company managed to stay in the black in 1998.

      "After passing the 50-year mark, I grew more interested in how to spend the money I have earned," Shi said. One of his investments is Chi Mei Hospital, the largest hospital in southern Taiwan, equipped with 1,300 beds and state-of-the-art medical equipment. Also, the headquarters of Chi Mei house a free- admission museum that exhibits a European art collection purchased by the Chi Mei Cultural Foundation. Shi also collects Japanese swords and violins - some of which are leased to famous artists. Among his many hobbies include playing musical instruments, painting and fishing. Shi also has a deep understanding of Japanese culture, the result of being raised under Japanese colonial rule.

      He is close to President Li Teng Hui and has served as an adviser to Li since 1996. Last year, Shi drew wide public attention by proclaiming Taiwan's need for an administrative overhaul. He said if he were president, he could cut taxes by half, adding that about 80% of the bureaucratic organization is unnecessary.

      Speech text / June 2, 1999

      I, Shi Wen Long, feel deeply honored to receive the "Nikkei Asia Prize" this year.

      I was born as a Japanese national in southern Taiwan, which was a Japanese colony at the time. I was 18 when the Pacific chapter of World War II ended, and consequently became a Taiwanese.

      I graduated from the machinery department of a technical high school, and worked for family-operated workshops, etc., before establishing Chi Mei Corp. at the age of 31.

      The company initially handled plastic molding and processing, but has since moved into the manufacturing of plastic materials. The lineup covers petrochemical downstream products including acrylic resin for lighting equipment, outer-shell for home appliances, housing for electronic products, PS used in automobile interiors, ABS resin, tires and synthetic rubber for gumboot soles.

      In the main product of ABS resin, the company has increased the annual output to around a million tons from a humble beginning of approx. 2,000 tons, becoming the world's largest manufacturer in a matter of 23 years. (In Japan, ten major ABS manufacturers including Technopolymer Co., Ube Industries and Toray, have the combined annual output of approx. 800,000 tons. Three major ABS manufacturers in the United States, namely GE, Monsanto and Dow, produce a total of approx. one million tons per annum.) Chi Mei's corporate capital has also grown from the initial NT$2 million (around 8 million yen) to the current NT$12.7 billion (around 50 billion yen).

      The successful growth can be attributed to technological innovation, which has drastically reduced manufacturing costs and halved sales prices, thus dramatically expanding demand. The market has been further expanded by a high level of economic growth on the Chinese mainland. A series of capital investments in manufacturing equipment and market expansion has nurtured Chi Mei into the world's largest ABS manufacturer.

      As for its corporate structure, the company quickly evolved from a family business, and separated funding and management, entrusting the business management to professionals, independent of shareholders and founding families.

      Another factor of success is the system of loaning interest-free money to employees for the purchase of company shares. It has helped build a common sense of vested interest between employees and shareholders, and heighten employee morale and loyalty. Today, employees hold approx. 20% of the company shares, providing financial security to their life after retirement.

      Chi Mei also started redistributing its profits to society at an early stage. In 1977, it established Chi Mei Cultural Foundation to donate approx. 10% of the company profits to social projects in categories of medical services, education and culture. More specifically, the donations have gone into establishing large hospitals, setting up scholarship programs, and developing / managing museums.

      Such corporate activities follow a common behavioral pattern observed among many fast-growing businesses. Yet, it should be stressed that Chi Mei has done so as a means of pursuing happiness, or has achieved profit growth as a process of pursuing the happiness of all employees, rather than as the final goal.

      Company growth and high profits must not undermine the happiness of individual families. For this reason, Chi Mei introduced a 40-hour working week system in July 1988, and adopted a policy of not encouraging overtime both at offices and at production lines. Consequently, the company has won the honor of the best Taiwanese company in terms of short working hours and high wages. I myself exercise the practice of a two-day working week, with the five remaining days spent for fishing or enjoying music.

      However, it is questionable how much longer such a favorable corporate management can be sustained. Our products, once the most competitive internationally, have now come under severe competition from developing countries.

      Nothing lasts forever. If the company were to be struck with a significant change and suffer a downfall, my philosophy at least would soften the emotional toll. When I think about it, our company produces and sells as much as 1.2 million tons of synthetic resin and synthetic rubber. Our strong growth has left behind a large number of businesses that lost their competitive edge and went downhill into financial ruin. I am also constantly aware that mass consumption of petrochemical materials contributes to the deterioration of the environment.

      In relation to the theme of "How the Asian Economy should be Developed", once a nation reaches a certain standard in clothing, food, housing and providing medical services to its population, the priority should be directed to environmental protection, quality of life and cultures, rather than further development of the economy. Karl Marx said, "For a person dying of starvation, the first piece of bread means life. The second piece of bread means pleasure. The third piece of bread means poison." Japan and other industrialized countries around the world must extend help to the countries without the first piece of bread so that they can crawl out of poverty. Countries with the second piece of bread must work toward environmental protection to the same extent as their efforts for economic development. Countries with the third piece of bread must concentrate on supporting low-income nations in a style of "teaching how to catch fish rather than giving fish (Mencius)", rather than focusing on their own economies.

      One of the factors hindering the economic development of Asian countries, is the inclination toward nationalism, manifesting in the form of government regulations extending excessive protection to domestic industries. Especially the countries that left colonization or became independent after World War II, tend to put priority on nationalism in all issues, and use it as miracle cure in too many situations. In order to achieve international economic development, a world with no nation states before the 18th century would have been most favorable. This could signify the true meaning of a "borderless" economy.

      Following the bursting of the Japanese economic bubble around 10 years ago, Asian countries were struck with an economic crisis, starting in Thailand in July 1997. Although with some fluctuations in the degree of gravity, all countries suffered economically. Yet, from a different perspective, the crisis could be interpreted as the correction of a distorted economic development. It is true we suffered. However, we can accept it with positive feelings if the suffering is seen as an important turning point.

      Fortunately or unfortunately, 50 years of Japanese colonization helped Taiwan build a solid foundation for modernization, second only to Japan in the Asian region. This is attributable to Taiwan's prosperity today. I wish to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to Japan for its past contributions.

      Frankly speaking, I feel the development of our company has left behind a deterioration in the environment. I therefore wish to donate all the prize money of 3 million yen to organizations working for environmental protection in Asia, the selection of which shall be entrusted to Nikkei Newspaper.

      Thank you very much.


    • Technological Innovation

      Prof. Zhao Qiguo (left)

      Prof. Zhao Qiguo, former director of the Institute of Soil Science, Academia Sinica, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Technological Innovation in honor of his leadership role in the development and exploitation of land resources in China on the basis of his own soil atlas.

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      Prof. Zhao Qiguo (left)

      Fertile mind helps boost farm productivity Zhao Qiguo's Research On Soil Has Improved China's Harvests

      Senior staff writer

      "People usually don't pay attention to soil, but it is our greatest natural resource," said Zhao Qiguo, former director of the Nanjing-based Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences. "Everything is born from soil. Human beings can continue to survive by understanding and using soil."

      Zhao, 69, is an energetic man who rises at 5:30 each morning to go jogging before arriving at the institute at 7:30. When he speaks, it is in a clear and crisp manner.

      The institute, established in 1930, now has seven divisions, four experimental bases and a staff of about 370 researchers. Even after stepping down as the fourth director of the institute, Zhao has served in such key posts as head of an agricultural-research commission of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, chief of a science and technology association in his home province of Jiangsu, and a professor at Nanjing University.

      Zhao has been conducting soil research for a long time. After graduating from university in 1953, he devoted himself to cultivating rubber trees for about 15 years. He studied what kinds of soil were optimal for plants in various regions and what kinds of soil reforms were needed. "My living conditions were severe at that time, but I continued researching with a sense of mission," Zhao said.

      Thanks to efforts by Zhao and his fellow researchers, rubber trees began taking root in China. Before, it had been said the trees couldn't grow in northern regions above 18 degrees north latitude. China is now the fourth-largest natural-rubber producer in the world. "Through the research on rubber trees, I reconfirmed the importance of soil," Zhao said.

      Zhao also made a soil map in the belief that farm productivity would rise if agricultural products were grown in suitable soil. Great efforts are made to spread various types of soil throughout China.

      "Excluding part of the Tibet Autonomous Region, I have visited every part of the nation," Zhao said. It was through investigations during his travels that he was able to compile his soil atlas, published in 1980.

      Zhao has occasionally participated in the creation of the government's five-year programs and has engineered cultivation plans based on his research in northeastern China and the Jiangnan area, which includes Nanjing. The implementation of his plans has greatly boosted farm productivity in these regions.

      In China, black soil covers the northeastern regions, with yellow ochre covering the middle to north regions. Southern areas have red clay, a substance on which Zhao is well-known worldwide for research.

      Zhao's investigations helped clarify how red clay was created and furthered knowledge about such factors as the content of salt, iron, aluminum and other metals, and soil weathering. "Professor Zhao's theories are thought highly of in the world," an executive of the institute said.

      Among major global problems regarding soil are erosion, degeneration and oxidation. "If we don't jointly tackle these issues, we will not be able to cope with an expanding population in the 21st century," Zhao stressed. He is increasingly involved in international activities, often attending conferences on environmental protection, such as the prevention of global warming. He has so far visited 35 countries.

      Zhao advises his successors to build up experience and knowledge in their 30s and 40s, ages at which he said people are their most energetic. He has also set up a facility to foster young researchers.

      Zhao has supported exchanges between researchers in China and Japan for more than 20 years. "My award will be a great incentive for Chinese researchers who are steadily investigating and researching soil. At the same time, it represents the friendship between China and Japan," Zhao said.

      Speech text / June 2, 1999

      The honorable Nihon Keizai Shimbun President, Mr. Takuhiko Tsuruta, honorable guests and respectable ladies and gentlemen.

      It is the utmost honor and joy for me to be invited to Tokyo as the winner of the 1999 Nikkei Asia Prize, and participate in the Prize's award ceremony organized by Nihon Keizai Shimbun.

      Firstly, let me express my heartfelt gratitude to Nihon Keizai Shimbun and "Nikkei Asia Prize" selection committee for awarding me with this honor. I also wish to extend my gratitude to my fellow scientists in the same specialization based in Japan, Dr. Katsuyuki Minami of the National Institute for Agro- Environmental Sciences in particular, for his strong support for me in the selection of this honor. It is my deep belief that my winning of the Nikkei Asia Prize is attributed not to my personal efforts but to the contributions of the Chinese government, Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), executive members of Institute of Soil Science of CAS, and members of the research team engaging in my research project. I could not have enjoyed this international honor had it not been for support and co-operation from senior members and colleagues of such organizations, and many years of education and training I have received from the Chinese government and CAS. Therefore, this honor is not for my personal endeavor. Rather, it represents recognition of the project I have worked on many years, of the cooperation and joint development between Japan and China in the science project, and of the development of science in China and the rest of Asia. Indeed, it symbolizes the friendship and development among the people and scientists of China, Japan and Asia.

      I have long committed myself to the research of soil science in China. For over 40 years, I have examined, classified, evaluated and studied the development of China's soil resources, and strived to develop and utilize the resources for continuous development of agriculture through local soil maintenance, soil improvement and enhancement of soil properties. I have also joined Japanese and other Asian soil scientists in research on land degradation and the environment, which has made a significant contribution to the issue of global changes in soil properties. The issue of the environment and development in the 21st century is a theme attracting significant attention from scientists and national governments around the world. Although there are may different projections made, the general belief is that the world will witness the following changes in the next decade: By 2025, the world population will grow by 60% from the current 5.3 billion to 8.5 billion, with 1 billion of them exposed to famine. Of 3.6 billion hectares, which accounts for one-fourth of the total land area of this planet, one-sixth is projected to suffer desertification. Land degradation of a global scale is indeed very serious. Statistics show that as much as 2 billion hectares of land suffered degradation over the past 100 years, with additional 5 million to 6 million hectares of land degrading, and 20 million hectares of irrigated land salinizing each year. At this rate, in the next two decades, one-third of cultivatable land would be lost around the world. Unless some measures are taken, food supplies would drop by 19% on average in 117 developing countries including those in Asia. In South East Asia, food supplies would only feed 85% of the projected population. Global climate changes are dealing a devastating blow to the present form of agriculture, and inevitably affecting the development of the world economy in the 21st century. The United Nations took the initiative in organizing the Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, and identified the "effective use of natural resources, including land, water, energy, forest and life forms", as one of the most important global issues into the coming century (UNCED, 1992). This is because human activities are imposing drastic changes on our land resources, with the influence expected to magnify as the world population increases over the next 50 years. It means major difficulties lie ahead in the efforts to prevent land degradation and improve the environment. Allow me to take this opportunity to express my sincere wish, that is to make fresh contributions to promoting research into global soil and environmental issues through strengthening close coordination between soil scientists in China, Japan and other Asian countries. It has been 18 years since I first came to Japan in 1981. During the 18 years, I have made 10 visits to Japan, once every two years on average, to take part in various international conferences mainly on soil-related issues. This includes conferences of the International Society of Soil Science (ISSS), the international convention on problem soil, the international conference on the improvement of volcanic soil, salinized soil, alkali soil and acid soil, and the joint exchange meeting for Japanese and Chinese soil science projects. I have acquainted myself with almost all members of my generation from the Japanese Society of Soil Science over the years, and have even struck up friendships with younger people in the last few years. The academic and friendly exchange over an extended period of time, has led to a close academic relationship among ourselves. What is more important is the fact that us scientists from Japan and China have deepened the friendship and partnership. In recent years, Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Science, has dispatched over 20 young scientists on training and fact-finding missions to Japan. Fellow Japanese scientists have also made occasional visits to our Institute to take part in joint research and academic exchange. Japan's prominent soil scientists, namely Dr. Katsuyuki Minami, Hokkaido University professor emeritus Akira Tanaka, The University of Tokyo professor Satoshi Matsumoto, Akita Prefectural University professor Mitsuo Chino, Dr. Mitsuo Hasegawa, etc., have all made significant contributions to China's efforts to foster scientists and promote academic exchanges. All of these factors have led to establishing the foundation for developing soil science projects in both Japan and China. Let me take this opportunity to express my sincerest gratitude to Japan's soil scientists for their efforts toward developing Sino-Japan science projects and friendship. It is my deepest wish that this science / technology exchange and friendship will continue to develop unchanged between the two countries.

      Science will continue to make uninterrupted creation and progress into the new century, and people of China, Japan and other parts of Asia will also foster their science projects and friendship.

      In concluding my speech, I wish to express my renewed gratitude to Nihon Keizai Shimbun for the honor they have granted me. I hope an even greater prosperity will be brought to Sino-Japan science projects, friendship between the two countries, and the business of Nihon Keizai Shimbun.

      Thank you very much.


    • Culture

      Mr. Dang Nhat Minh (right)

      Mr. Dang Nhat Minh, film director and General Secretary of the Vietnam Cinema Association, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture in honor of his tireless efforts to make distinguished films that introduce the soul and sensitivities of Asian people to the world.

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      Mr. Dang Nhat Minh (right)

      Filmmaker gives voice to common folk Dang Nhat Minh Known For Artistry, Keen Social Observation

      staff writer

      For Dang Nhat Minh's filmmaking, the starting point is to capture the lives of ordinary people. Many of the works revolve around a wartime tragedy or love story, bringing into sharp focus the contradictions and problems in society from the perspective of the poor and underprivileged.

      The movies by Minh, a Vietnamese, do not espouse the propaganda often found in the art of socialist countries. Rather, they display a warmth for ordinary people and an awareness and understanding of their problems. His films enjoy an international reputation for high artistic quality and keen social observation.

      Minh was born in 1938 in the old capital of Hue, in central Vietnam. He does not come from a line of artists. His father was a doctor; his mother had farming origins.

      Minh began making documentaries around 1965, during the Vietnam War, and expanded his vision to dramas in 1975. He is a self-taught filmmaker who learned "by reading books and listening to other filmmakers."

      In 1985, Minh traveled to France to study and viewed many of the world's cinematic masterpieces. Rooted in the traditions and cultures of each nation, the films "gave me food for thought about my future in filmmaking, making me rethink the characteristics and traditions of Vietnam," he said. Among the works that impressed him were those by Japan's Yasujiro Ozu.

      Many of Minh's films take place in farming villages. "How I Long for October" (1984) tells about the lives of farmers, centering on a woman who cannot tell her father-in-law about the death of her husband in the war or the primary-school teacher who loves her. "Eighty percent of the people in Vietnam live in rural areas. The culture of Vietnam was born there," he said.

      "The Girl on the River" (1987) is the story of a war hero who becomes a postwar success and then snubs a woman who had helped him during the conflict. The woman embodies ordinary folk, and through her Minh warns that the heroes of the revolution and war are not always as noble as they might appear.

      Although the Vietnamese government officially follows an open, reformist policy, not all officials are happy about Minh's films. But the filmmaker is undaunted, saying, "I'm sure the ordinary people are with me."

      His best-known film, "Nostalgia for Countryland," made in 1995, also revolves around a farming village, depicting the hard life of a sensitive 17-year-old boy. "As a result of reform policies, the economic gap between the cities and the villages has widened. Those who bear the brunt of this disparity, women in particular, live in the villages," he said.

      The following year, Minh released "Hanoi, Winter 1946," the personal tale of Ho Chi Minh.

      Much of the footage was shot with very old cameras and equipment, including dim lighting fixtures from the former Soviet Union. And because in most cases he couldn't afford retakes, expedient use of film was necessary. However, those elements are not apparent in the films, which flow like a gentle river.

      In the city, Minh often greets people with a friendly smile. Riding in a "cyclo," a three-wheeled bicycle, Minh asks the young driver where he's from and what's happening in the countryside. His gentle manner seems to convey peace to those with whom he comes in contact.

      Since the start of the doi moi reform policies, the Vietnamese have been exposed to many foreign videos, making art films less popular. Minh, who is general secretary of the some 400-member Vietnam Cinema Association, aims to improve the nation's industry. Regarding young people in filmmaking, he said: "I understand their enthusiasm, but I want them to see more foreign films. To do that, they should study foreign languages."

      Minh and his wife, a former professional pianist, have a son and a daughter. He sometimes seeks their opinions about scripts, saying, "My children are good advisers."

      He is now shooting a documentary about Hue, his hometown. "Asian culture is diverse and rich, like flowers of many colors," Minh said. "By blooming in its own color, Vietnam can make the Asian flower bed even more beautiful."

      Speech text / June 2, 1999

      Ladies and Gentlemen,

      I am very honoured to be awarded the 1999 Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture. This is a great incentive for me as well as for my colleagues in Vietnam.

      As it was informed in the letter of Mr.Tsuruta Takuhino, President of Nihon Keizai Shimbun's Board of Management, the Culture Prizes Selection Sub-Committee had remarked that my films convey to the world at large not only the soul and sensitivity of the Vietnamese but also of people from our continent... When I make films my only desire is to be able to express my thoughts and emotion in face of life to convey the concerns and aspiration of Vietnamese; if this can be shared by overseas audience, especially Asians, then I feel indeed truly fortunate and happy.

      Cinema is an art that can make human beings understand each other. All of us, regardless of country belong to, share cultural similarities and common aspirations for lives blessed with well-being, liberty, equity and happiness. A life which treasures values such as harmony between man and nature, tolerance and human compassion. In the course of the development of our respective cultures, each of our nations has contributed its distinctive identity rooted in its own historical circumstances into the making of an Asian culture that has both common traits and diverse distinctive features. We may proudly say that Asian culture is a precious heritage which we are preserving, nurturing and enriching, for this is very found that gives us the strength to exist and develop.

      By granting a yearly Nikkei Asia Prize for culture along with one for technological innovation and regional growth Nihon Keizai Shimbun is sending a strong message, namely: Culture is an integral part of an Asian society's development. Such conception deserves respect and provides strong encouragement to all who work and create in the field of culture in Asia.

      For my part, as I am bestowed this great honour, I pledge to continue doing my utmost for the development of Vietnamese cinema and thereby to the common growth of Asian cinema, giving expression to the Vietnamese soul and in so doing, also to the Asian soul.

      I would like to convey my most earnest thanks to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun,Inc. Press Group and the President of its Board of Management, Mr.Tsuruto Takuhino, to the Jury of the Nikkei Asia Prizes and its Chairman, Mr. Gaishi Hiraiwa, for their choice and decision to grant me this noble distinction.

      I wish to take this opportunity to express my profound gratitude to Japanese film critic Tadao Sato & Mrs. Hiraki Sato, for all that they have done to bring our cinema to the Japanese and the world public, and for everything they have done to assert our Asian cinema.

      I thank and wish good health to all present at this solemn ceremony.


  • 3rd Winners


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    • Regional Growth

      Mr. Ni Runfeng (right)

      Mr. Ni Runfeng, President and CEO of Sichuan Changhong Electronics Group, China, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth to honor his successfully turning a local military radar company into the largest color TV manufacturer in China.

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      Mr. Ni Runfeng (right)

      Standing Out As A Model For Reform Ni Runfeng helped turn ailing state-run company into television giant

      Senior staff writer

      In a country where most leading-edge companies are situated along the coast, China's Sichuan Changhong Electronics Group, one of the world's leading producers of color televisions, stands out for being located far inland.

      The consumer-electronics maker is headquartered in the city of Mianyang, a two-hour drive from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. The company has overtaken its rivals on the coast with the nation's highest sales volume of color televisions and an annual production rate of 6.6 million units.

      The former state-run military-radar factory was transformed into China's largest consumer-electronics company by Ni Runfeng, 54, the company's chief executive. In 1985, when Ni had just been promoted to the plant's top position, the company fell on hard times. At the time, the government ordered many such defense plants to switch to civilian operations. Government support fell drastically and the company was forced to fend for itself in the market for the first time.

      The road from radar manufacturer to China's leading consumer-electronics manufacturer was hardly a smooth one. It wasn't until the country was swept up in a consumer-electronics boom in the late 1980s that the company was able to experience growth.

      The biggest obstacle was the company's lack of customer awareness. Even after the company acquired a production line for 17-inch TVs from Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. of Japan, most employees were still used to serving the military, and the idea of producing TVs was not greeted with much enthusiasm. A flustered Ni drew inspiration from a Chinese expression that says a nation can only be taken one castle at a time. He drew up highly specific marketing plans.

      His strategy was to focus on the interior and northeastern regions of the country, where technology lagged behind other regions. Color TVs in these areas were generally of poor quality and often broke down. Ni won customers over with low return rates, solid quality control and excellent after-sales service. He helped set the company apart from its competitors by introducing TVs with remote-control functions and other features.

      Ni then began operations in the Yangtze River Basin area and in Southern China, where many foreign companies are active. His company quickly introduced a 29-inch TV and took a 35% share of the overall domestic market. Ni is targeting 45% for 1998.

      Ni's economical approach to management has earned him fame in Chinese business circles. He drives himself in Mianyang to save on the cost of hiring a driver. Though he invests in plants and equipment, his office is housed in a 1950s-era building.

      He has gained the admiration of Prime Minister Zhu Rongji, a harsh critic of state-enterprise management. On an inspection tour in the fall of 1996, Zhu, then a vice premier, praised the venture, saying China would be growing at a much greater pace if all state enterprises were like Sichuan Chang- hong. The company's success serves as an encouraging model for a Chinese government eager to promote greater growth in the interior.

      "Changhong is an apple that has yet to ripen," said Ni, who has plans to move the company into personal computers in the future. The company is aiming to become a major player in information-based consumer electronics in the 21st century.

      Twenty years of economic reform and liberalization have produced some bold and savvy Chinese managers. The question remains to what extent such success stories will become an exemplar for the large numbers of state enterprises groaning under massive debt. For Ni, who crossed over into politics by being elected as an alternate member of the Communist Party's Central Committee in the fall of 1997, many challenges still lie ahead.

      Speech text / June 3, 1998

      Honored guests, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

      First of all, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc., and particularly to its president, Mr. Takuhiko Tsuruta, for bestowing this honor upon me. I would also like to offer my warm congratulations to the paper as it commemorates the 120th anniversary of its founding. The Nikkei Prize that I have received today honors not just me personally but all of the 30,000 employees of Changhong Electric Co., Ltd. and China's business community. For me personally, it is a tremendous honor, and an inspiration.

      In the ten-odd years that China has been promoting reform and open markets as the world's largest developing nation, it has achieved considerable progress and given birth to many excellent companies in an environment of market competition. Changhong was the first government-run company in the defense industry to begin the process of "military-to-civilian conversion." It set an example for others by liberating itself from the constraints of a planned economy mentality. It recognized very early on the situation that China was in, and, with the market as its guide, began developing electronic products for civilian use that responded to consumer needs--taking into account the income levels of China's consumers and the differences in purchasing power between urban and rural areas. By endeavoring to improve product quality and to supplement service, the company has devoted itself to the task of improving the people's standard of living. From its inland location in the Sichuan Basin, the company expanded into a nationwide operation, and has even moved into the international arena. As of the end of 1997, the company had a domestic market share of over 35 percent for its major products, and we project that the figure will increase to over 45 percent this year. Today, "Changhong" has become the top brand in China's consumer electronics market. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to all my friends in various fields who have supported Changhong to date. I feel extremely happy, too, that over the past few years Changhong has been able to contribute a bit to the prosperity of the Asian economy.

      The management of government enterprises is a difficult issue worldwide, and, particularly for China, an important concern related to the economy and civilian life. Therefore, as one of these government enterprises, Changhong not only developed a business enterprise, but has done something more important: it has carried out a valuable inquiry into the reform of China's government enterprises. Changhong's development has shown that the management of government enterprises can succeed. For that to happen, these enterprises must welcome the opportunity to compete in the marketplace, and must demonstrate sufficient superiority in human resources, technology, operational scale, etc. While promoting reform and restructuring, they must strengthen their managerial controls, and adjust and reorganize various factors, such as products, assets, organizational structures, technologies, personnel, and so on.

      In the course of this development, we have maintained good and mutually cooperative relationships with Toshiba, Matsushita, Mitsubishi and other Japanese companies operating in the same area. The sophisticated entrepreneurial spirit of these Japanese companies and their thorough and scientific methods of management impressed us deeply. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to these companies for the support and earnest cooperation that they provided in behalf of our company's development.

      As the global economy grows increasingly integrated, the issue of how multinational companies should manage their operations and carry out their technological innovations amid this new environment of market competition domestically and internationally, and of how they should deal with international competition, has become an important one for Asian countries. The eyes of the world are on China, and China, which is now opening itself to the outside world, is welcoming investments. The politics and popular sentiment of China are stable, and the economy is continuing its stable development. The investment environment has greatly improved. Moreover, the country has an abundant supply of manpower and natural resources, and sits on a vast market of 1.2 billion people. Numerous investment opportunities exist in a wide range of areas. This is a never-to-be-repeated opportunity for development, and we sincerely hope that the world's business corporations, particularly companies from Asia, do not let this opportunity pass.

      Although Changhong has grown remarkably in the past, our achievements are minuscule in comparison to the world's top companies, and we must continue to endeavor to forge new paths to the future. Changhong's next goal will be to become one of the world's top 500 corporations. Toward that end, I truly expect Changhong to continue its efforts in marketing, technology, and management, and, as outstanding personnel join the company in various areas of the world, to expand its businesses on a global basis. Currently, Changhong has entered into strategic alliances with such well-known companies as Toshiba and Philips, and is promoting high-level cooperation in a comprehensive range of areas with these companies. Changhong's aim is to continue to be a company with a tremendous amount of vitality, and to aim to become the "Toshiba or the Matsushita of China."

      We are facing a major historical watershed as the old century gets set to turn into the new. The world economy is becoming increasingly integrated, and technological development is proceeding at a dizzying pace. Amid such change, politics is also becoming increasingly multipolar, and the voices of people from Asia and around the world expressing a desire for peace and stability, and calling for mutual cooperation, are now the mainstream. The beginning of a new Asian era is virtually upon us. The "East Asian Miracle" of the second half of the 20th century left a major impression on the world. The Asia of the 21st century will undoubtedly continue to contribute significantly on the world economic stage as a new region of advanced economic development. At the international conference on "The Future of Asia" that convenes tomorrow, we will have an opportunity to listen to more constructive opinions and perspectives on this question. Along with the employees of Changhong, I look forward to contributing all that I can toward the creation of a new page in Asia's history in the 21st century.

      Thank you very much.


    • Technological Innovation

      Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia (RRIM) (center)

      Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia (RRIM), was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Technological Innovation in honor of its contribution to increasing production of natural rubber in Malaysia, and in other nations, by providing its original high-yield rubber plants and establishing industrial standards.

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      Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia (RRIM) (center)

      Boosting Quality Of Life Through Research Rubber institute in Malaysia an asset to science, agriculture

      Senior staff writer

      The Malaysian rubber industry has come a long way since it began about 150 years ago with 120 rubber trees imported from Brazil.

      Ideal growing conditions were a huge help, but the nation's industry could not have come as far as it has without the efforts of the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia (RRIM), which has been improving upon and broadening the applications for rubber since the institute was established in 1925.

      RRIM has been focusing its efforts on improving rubber trees and protecting the trees against disease. These efforts have helped improve the livelihoods of the nation's approximately 400,000 rubber growers, most of whom are small farmers. The organization has also been actively involved in developing new uses for natural rubber. It developed the Malaysian rubber standards and helped make rubber become a widely used industrial material.

      RRIM's research and development activities involve finding new applications for natural rubber as an engineering material. Abdul Aziz, director general of the Malaysian Rubber Board, a government-run body to which RRIM belongs, said he wants R&D on rubber to help form one of the pillars of Malaysian industry. Aziz is also the head of RRIM and one of Malaysia's leading figures on rubber research, production and use.

      RRIM's core facilities are located in Sungai Buloh, a 40-minute drive from Kuala Lumpur. The 1,300- hectare (3,212-acre) grounds contain a huge complex which includes a testing plantation, a seed- growing plant, a development center for rubber products, a testing center, a research lab, houses for workers and schools for their children. RRIM is the largest organization of its kind in the world devoted to R&D on natural rubber.

      The center's latest project involves trying to develop rubber trees that produce medicinal substances by using gene-engineering technology. Because rubber trees secrete a large amount of sap, researchers are trying to make the trees produce sap with useful properties, Yeang Hoong Yeat, the head of the Malaysian Rubber Board's Biotechnology & Strategic Research Unit, said. He said the basic technology for doing so already exists.

      Research projects aimed at causing cows and sheep to secrete medicinal substances in their milk have become quite common, but similar experiments using plants are rare. RRIM's vast knowledge of rubber, accumulated through decades of basic research, has enabled such a project to take place.

      About 40% of the rubber on the global markets is natural rubber, and demand for it is growing because of its durability and oil-resistant properties. Further development of the rubber industry is one of the highlights of the Malaysian government's second 10-year industrial development plan, which began in 1996. The Malaysian Rubber Board plays a central role in the national project, and is constructing a mammoth R&D center called Rubber City.

      Aziz said the honor of winning the prize goes not only to RRIM, but also to all Malaysian farmers and businessmen involved in the rubber industry. Aziz said consumers also deserve recognition for the award since they have been the driving force behind the great improvement in the quality of Malaysian rubber.

      Speech text / June 3, 1998

      The organizers of this ceremony; Mr. Takuhiko Tsuruta, president of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc.; honored guests; ladies and gentlemen: Good morning. I pray that this finds you living each day without incident.

      As the representative of the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia, I have been given the honor of receiving the 1997 Nikkei Asia Prize for technological innovation. As I do so, I cannot help but feel profoundly moved and delighted at the opportunity you have given us.

      Considering the many other fine research institutes in Asia, this prize represents for us an undeserved honor. The RRIM was established in 1925 and is now in its 73rd year of existence. For the RRIM to be recognized by the Japanese media for its work to date is extremely significant, and an honor. I wish to express my profound gratitude to those who have awarded us this prize.

      I have heard that this is the first year in which the prize has been awarded to an organization rather than to an individual, and that the prize was originally established to be given to individuals. In that sense, the fact that it was awarded to an organization is extremely significant. I believe that the prize also signifies recognition of the work that led, in 1991, to the institute's receiving the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Quality.

      The RRIM began as a small research institute, originally with the objective of conducting research and development into upstream activities in the rubber industry. Thereafter, the institute expanded its areas of endeavor to include rubber processing and downstream activities. Today, the RRIM is one of the world's largest research institutes involved in research and development on natural rubber, one of the world's major products.

      With research and development into natural rubber as its major mission, our institute has played an important role not only in rubber cultivation carried out on a plantation-size scale but also in the smallholders' sector and in the area of rubber product manufacturing. Via a dynamic and effective mechanism of technology transfer, the results of the institute's R & D activity have made an enormous contribution to these three sectors. As our country has continued to industrialize, conditions surrounding Malaysia's rubber industry have begun to change. For example, acreage in rubber production has declined, production costs have risen, labor shortages have grown more severe, and rubber prices have fallen. These and other problems are compelling Malaysia to come up with solutions. Because 85 percent of those involved in rubber production are farmers on small landholdings, the RRIM is being forced to deal with the difficult issue of enhancing the social and economic status of smallholder producers by working to improve the productivity of rubber cultivation and to enhance the incomes of rubber growers through technological innovation.

      The rubber industry as a whole contributed approximately 10 billion ringgit to total GNP in fiscal 1997. Because the rubber industry is considered a composite of a number of different industries, this 10 billion ringgit figure comprises revenues from rubber exports, revenues from the manufacture of rubber products based on rubber and latex, and revenues from the production of accessories made of rubber, and so on. As a result of the development of rubber product manufacturing, domestic consumption of rubber products has also grown. In order for the rubber industry to achieve significantly greater development, I believe that research and development must focus on downstream activities, added-value production, rubber farming systems, and strategic research. R & D must also emphasize work on quality control, standardization of rubber products, and projects relating to the environment and pollution control.

      Today, Malaysia is the world's third leading rubber-producing nation, after Thailand and Indonesia. Certain conditions make it impossible for Malaysia to compete with these two countries. Specifically these are that land for planting rubber is limited, and that production costs are continuing to rise. However, through the development of new products for the rubber industry and the development of new technologies, Malaysia hopes to become the Mecca for research on rubber in the Asia region.

      The concept of developing a rubber-theme urban center on the 500-hectare experimental farm operated by the RRIM has already received approval as a plan that will encourage the development of the rubber industry in Malaysia. This rubber-theme urban center will gather in one location R & D activities, (small and medium-sized) rubber product manufacturing plants, other projects related to rubber manufacturing, and an industrial estate. When this project becomes a reality, we are hoping to be able to attract investments from Japanese entrepreneurs. Moreover, in order to raise the level of expertise among researchers at the institute, we are hoping to receive support from Japan for the training of researchers.

      It goes without saying that Malaysia's rubber industry has benefitted from the achievements of the RRIM. But the institute's impact is also being felt by rubber-producing countries elsewhere, in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America. As this clearly demonstrates, our institute has contributed to the development of a structure that has promoted the development of the rubber industry, not only in our region, but around the world. Consequently, these achievements have also contributed to a division of wealth and to the development of scientific technology. Our rubber high-yielding clones are being cultivated in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, India, Sri Lanka, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Guatemala and Brazil. The provision of rubber clones to these regions has been carried out through the sale of seeds, the provision of technology, and the offering of programs related to genetic engineering. In addition, the institute has provided these countries with information relating to rubber tapping technology, rubber processing technology, manufacturing technologies for rubber products, and product testing methods. The RRIM has also prepared a plan for accepting and training overseas researchers in matters relating to rubber production. Finally, the institute also publishes material related to the rubber industry, and organizes international conferences and seminars on topics relating to the rubber industry.

      With the aim of commercializing the results of its research and development, the RRIM has taken steps to spread the technologies that it has developed by providing a consulting service. This consulting service is also available in response to inquiries received from overseas clients.

      The structure of international cooperation between Malaysia and other countries has been sustained through the exchange of expert knowledge between Malaysia and such institutions as the International Rubber Research and Development Board and the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries.

      Without the serious involvement of the government, it would be difficult to achieve progress and development in scientific technology. In this regard, we are proud of the fact that we are in an extremely privileged environment. By this I mean that Prime Minister Mahatir clearly understands the need for government involvement, and is playing a central role in articulating a plan for the areas of research and development requiring special emphasis in relation to the Vision for the Year 2020. As one example, the prime minister has specifically advocated plans for the establishment of a "Center for the Development of Rubber Industry Technology," for the advancement of biotechnological research, and for the construction of an "Exhibition Center for the World's Rubber Products." Moreover, these concepts are already moving in the direction of contributing to a further strengthening of production of added-value products and of the foundations of our research.

      In closing, on behalf of the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to those at the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc. for inviting my wife and me to this distinguished ceremony. I would also like to express my appreciation to the other honorees for the kind consideration they have shown us. I hope that this opportunity to meet can be used to build stronger structures of cooperation between our countries. I know that the awarding of the Nikkei Asia Prize to our institute will encourage further efforts on our part to work toward the global development of the rubber industry.

      Thank you for your attention.


    • Culture

      Mr. Kim Jeong Ok (left)

      Mr. Kim Jeong Ok, founder and art director of the JAYU(freedom) theatre group, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture to honor his tireless efforts in creating universal theater play based on Asian ideas and methods, and his efforts in promoting exchange programs among Korean, Japanese and Chinese theatricians.

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      Mr. Kim Jeong Ok (left)

      Director Draws On Asian Tradition Ethnic identity plays major role in plays of Kim Jeong- ok

      Senior staff writer

      When Kim Jeong-ok, 66, set out on what has become a lifelong mission to develop a new form of theater based on Asian tradition, it seemed a distant goal. But Kim's dream has become a reality. Now he is busy breaking new ground in modern South Korean theater and bringing Asian culture to the world through his art.

      Three years ago, Kim's artistic achievements helped him become the first non-Westerner to be elected chairman of the Paris-based International Theatre Institute.

      He has directed more than 80 plays, ranging from the European theater of the absurd to original works. His dramatic interpretation, however, has always been based on Korean culture and his ethnic identity. He draws much of his inspiration from South Korea's long tradition of theatrical and musical performances as well as from shamanism.

      Rather than rejecting these traditions as antiquated, Kim embraces them and incorporates many of their elements into his plays and costume design. Kim has taken the JAYU (freedom) theater group, which he founded in 1966, all over the world. Although at first there were doubts at home as to whether the performances would be understood or accepted abroad, they quickly won widespread acclaim.

      Kim's performances are not remarkable for their unique technical approach alone. Much of the appeal of his plays comes from their themes. "Nameless Flowers Fall in the Wind" centers around an itinerant performing troupe. "What Does Man Become After Death?" deals with questions of life and death. Both plays have been staged in Japan. The plays embody his Oriental philosophy, reflected in such lines as, "Man doubles and continues to live after death." "There is continuity between life and death," Kim said.

      The International Theatre Institute held its festival in Seoul last autumn, the first time the event was held in Asia. Kim, who was in charge of the entire program, helped make the event a big success and directed a multilingual version of King Lear. Actors from seven countries performed in their native languages. The part of King Lear, for instance, was played by a South Korean actor in Korean. Other parts were performed in Japanese, English and other languages. The actors were allowed to play their parts according to their own interpretations. Although multilingual plays are nothing new, Kim used the opportunity to more deeply explore its theatrical potential.

      "Asians don't express their anger like Europeans," Kim said. "Gestures are a manifestation of accumulated history. It is natural that they differ from culture to culture. Acting should not mean copying Westerners."

      By encouraging actors to play their parts according to their own ideas, Kim has fostered many top-flight performers. Kim says he wants to create a new theatrical culture through the fusion of the traditional and the modern, the East and the West.

      Kim lives humbly in an old-style house in the suburbs of Seoul. The house has ondol, or traditional heated floors, and a garden clogged with old stone statues, wooden farming tools and dozens of large pots to make kimchi, spicy pickled vegetables.

      "I have saved all of them," Kim said with a rueful laugh about his collection. He said South Koreans are losing interest in their cultural heritage.

      "These things were made by people who never considered themselves artists. I draw great inspiration from their silent power. These are simple tools, but they display deep sensitivity, similar to that shared by modern art. To me, stone statues are actors," Kim said. "They are actors who show us performances many centuries old."

      Kim is a man of many talents who also directs movies, gives university lectures and contributes to international cultural exchanges. He is now contemplating building a new outdoor theater, where he plans to exhibit his collection of stone art. "I want to make it a facility that presents Asian culture in complete harmony with its past and present," he said. "It will also be a place for various cultures to meet."

      Speech text / June 3, 1998

      I am very happy and honored to be able to say a few words to you today as the recipient of the third Asia Prize.

      To begin, let me express my appreciation to those on the evaluation committee who selected me to be honored in the cultural category of the third Asia Prize. I am still amazed that a person such as I could have been given such a prestigious award. Looking back, I take pride in the fact that the path that I have taken in my work has coincided in many respects with objectives and aims of the Nikkei Asia Prize. In this regard, I would like to share a part of this joy and honor with those in the world of Asian theater and performing arts who have held similar aspirations.

      When I began my work in the theater in the early 1960s, I was totally absorbed in Western drama. I was particularly captivated by avant-garde art and the so-called New Theater. Without knowing what was genuinely new in drama, I nonetheless had complete faith in the tenet that art, by definition, always had to be new. For a young stage artist in Korea, a remote corner of the Far East, Western drama represented the ultimate in new drama, and for that reason I was enthusiastically involved in bringing the Western theater into my country.

      In the 1970s, however, I began to sense doubts about the way I had been looking at the theater. If my country's traditional theater was the theater of the past, might not Western theater also be the theater of the past? Wasn't the new theater of the West today really seeking new energy from the theater of the East? Couldn't even newer forms of energy be discovered precisely in the stage works of countries that were our neighbors--in the drama of Japan and China, in Noh or kabuki or classical Chinese opera, or in the puppet shows and shadow plays of other Asian countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia? And might not the customs involving women mediums in my own country, or the songs sung by our common people, also contain seeds of new forms of drama in the future? With these and other questions in mind, I began to reflect on the identity of my own country's drama, on the identity of Asian drama, and on what Asian drama shared in common.

      Whatever the political relations among nations, there is clearly a need to deepen exchange with neighboring countries in the area of culture. That having been said, however, we must never subscribe to an exclusionary regionalist doctrine. While pursuing our separate identities, we must endeavor to become more international in our outlooks and, at the same time, to value the origins--the hometowns--of our spiritual lives.

      While I have striven to protect the identity of the drama of my own country and the drama of Asia, and have advocated actions toward that end, I have never intended to deny that all cultures contain elements of intermarriage. Up till now, while arguing the need to restore the identity of our own drama, I have also advocated the pursuit of "a third kind of drama." This "third kind of drama" may be thought of as an interracial cultural product that has sprung up out of the encounter between Western and Eastern drama. However, this is not a simple uniting of forms of Western and Eastern drama, nor a simple mixing of blood such as arises from the union of man and woman, but a process that gives rise to hope for a third kind of creative "something" to emerge from the clash of two forms of spirit.

      Last year, while participating in a workshop in Riga, Latvia together with young stage artists from various countries, I ardently explained and argued my views about Eastern forms of spirit. In response, one young person asked "Why must your approach always be Eastern?" To which I responded, "Okay, so why must your approach always be Western? If the approach should not always be Eastern, neither should it always be Western." While cultures must be liberated through bridges that transcend national borders, races and ethnic groups, such bridges must not be one-way; they must permit a flow in both directions. I explained that if the flow up till now has been virtually one way from the West to the East, then it had to become a flow in both directions from now on. In all ages, there are cultures that are dominant and popular from time to time. But if the world's cultures were to be homogenized by that dominant culture, that would be tremendous loss. By accepting and respecting cultural diversity, we make it possible for a rich, interracial cultures to flower around the world. By allowing this to happen, each of these places can become a world center, in a cultural sense at least.

      Today, Korea, along with a number of other Asian countries, faces a crisis of national survival. The unfamiliar word, "IMF," has wrought economic crisis. But I can't helping feeling that this crisis is less an economic one than one fostered by the destruction and loss of culture. Turmoil has arisen because the country borrowed far too much money than befitted its status and because, in many respects, it acted like a nouveau riche nation. Also, because it was satisfied with quantitative expansion, it lost its originality and its ability to foster an adequate cultural consciousness. The result was that it brought the crisis upon itself. By so easily forgetting about its difficult earlier days, the country was driven by pride into a morass.

      To extricate the country from this crisis, many economic measures have been implemented. But I believe that cultural measures are even more urgently needed. By paying too much attention to extracting itself from the economic crisis, the country is said to be losing its ability to look at cultural matters. But it is precisely at such times that people should be reading books, watching plays, and listening to music. For from these sources comes an ability to endure difficulties, and to empathize with the pain being experienced by neighbors who are suffering.

      Today Japan undoubtedly has one of the world's most flourishing performing arts sectors. It is almost as if Japan has become a final destination point for culture, so much has poured into the country and thrived. But if Japan allows culture to stop here and to grow content with the status quo, it will not be long before such culture withers and dies. Instead of being satisfied with flourishing as a final destination, Japan should become a new embarkation point, a new generator of cultural innovation. I believe that, in the 21st century, Asia must become a center for the generation of new, creative culture.

      n closing, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc. for establishing the Asia Prize, which has created an awareness that economic development and cultural development go hand in hand, and which has awakened us to the importance of Asian culture. My sincere appreciation to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc., too, for allowing me to stand in this place of honor. Thank you very much.


  • 2nd Winners


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    • Regional Growth

      Dr. Manmohan Singh (right)

      Dr. Manmohan Singh, member of Parliament and former finance minister of India, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth to honor his work in successfully reforming the Indian economy by relaxing rigid economic policies and welcoming foreign investment.

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      Dr. Manmohan Singh (right)

      Designing a huge economic turnaround

      Manmohan Singh knows what he is talking about when he says India is making an economic turnaround rarely seen in human history. He is, after all, the man who designed and initiated it.

      The former finance minister of India was the architect of the dramatic economic reforms that stemmed India's fall into an economic abyss and put the country back on a track toward robust economic growth.

      "Nine hundred million people are enjoying a free and democratic political system in India. Large-scale economic reforms has brought about economic growth," observed the 64-year-old member of the parliament's upper house. "That really shows the Indian character."

      When Singh was handpicked in 1991 by then-Prime Minister Narasimha Rao as finance minister, India was already way behind China in economic reforms. The other Asian giant had embarked on reforms in 1979 with remarkable results.

      Singh, however, had never tried his hand at politics before being named the post. But where he lacked political experience, Singh had profound knowledge about the Indian economy from his days as an economics professor, secretary of the Ministry of Finance and governor of the Reserve Bank of India.

      The Indian economy was in shambles. Soaring crude-oil prices following the Persian Gulf War delivered a severe blow to the country's economy, which was already groggy after losing its principal trading partner in the collapse of the Soviet Union.

      The economy was crumbling under double-digit inflation and rapidly shrinking foreign reserves, which fell as low as $1.1 billion, an amount that could pay for imports for only two weeks. International credit in the Indian economy had almost evaporated.

      There was overt opposition, even within the ruling party, to Singh's appointment. Before him, there had been only one bureaucrat-turned cabinet member since India's independence. Singh, however, accepted Rao's offer, thinking that the economic crisis might allow him to take the bold steps necessary to revamp the economy.

      Singh relaxed restrictions on foreign investment, scrapped industrial- licensing regulations, cut down fiscal expenses, privatized state-owned companies and devalued the currency. Those steps helped turn the tide.

      Exports and foreign investment started ballooning, gross domestic product grew 7% percent in fiscal 1995 from 0.9% in fiscal 1991 while foreign- exchange reserves swelled to $17 billion.

      "The Indian economy has overcome the crisis," Singh declared in his economic report to the parliament in 1995.

      The Indian economy had been shackled by the government's strict regulations and controls since the country's independence. Singh, however, was convinced of the need to change course when he witnessed the economic development in Southeast Asia during the 1980s.

      Singh had to step down before his reforms were completed because the ruling Congress Party sustained defeat in the general election in the spring of 1996. But the liberalization policy remains unchanged.

      "The clock cannot be turned back," the former finance minister said with a hint of satisfaction about his achievements.

      A devout Sikh, Singh is popular among the Indian people for his candid and incorruptible personality that stands out in the world of politics, where corruption is not uncommon.

      Singh grew up in Punjab, where infant mortality was high. He says he decided to study economics to find a way to stamp out poverty and contribute to his native region.

      Although macroeconomic indicators and living standards are improving, poverty is still rampant in India. Singh's new goal is to bring about an equitable society where all people can enjoy prosperity. That requires increasing public investment in welfare and education, he insists.

      Of political leadership, he says, "Today's politician really needs professional expertise and the ability to analyze problems."

      Speech text / May 14, 1997

      Mr. Takuhiko Tsuruta Mr. Ryoki Sugita

      Distinguished members of The Nikkei Asia Prizes Selection committee


      Ladies and Gentlemen

      1. I deem it a great honor to have been chosen by Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc. for the award of Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth. Nikkei enjoys great prestige in the world of journalism. The members of the Selection Committee for the Nikkei Asia Prize are persons with outstanding credentials. As such I consider myself extremely fortunate for having been chosen for this award. I accept it with a deep sense of gratitude and humility. I take it as a recognition and appreciation of the strenuous efforts being made in India since 1991 to accelerate the pace of social and economic development through a wide ranging programme of economic reforms.

      2. This year India is celebrating the golden jubilee of her Independence. We have an impressive record of grappling with the formidable social and economic problems facing a poor country in the process of modernisation and development. Throughout this period, we have remained faithful to the ideals of a democratic polity based on the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights. India's economic structure has been greatly diversified. We have now a vast reservoir of scientific, technological and managerial skills. At the same time, we recognise that we have a large unfinished agenda if we are to get rid of the ancient scourge of poverty, ignorance and disease.

      3. India was in the midst of a deep economic crisis in June 1991 when a new Government of which I was the Finance Minister came into power. We dealt with this crisis with firmness and determination. We were able to restore reasonable macro economic stability in a sort period of about nine months and with the least possible social and economic costs in terms of loss of output and employment. We also used the crisis as an opportunity to launch a multi faced programme of economic reforms designed to improve the productivity of resource use and to impart a new element of dynamism to the economy. The major objectives of these reforms were to remove the overhang of bureaucratic controls which stifled competition, individual initiative, efficiency and innovation and to open up the Indian economy for progressive integration with the global economy. Thus far reaching changes were made in the regulatory framework governing investment, domestic and as well as foreign, banking and financial markets, foreign trade and payments. The tax system was streamlined so as to promote savings and risk taking and more efficient allocation of resources.

      4. By any reckoning, the initial results have been highly encouraging. The Indian economy has been growing at an average annual rate of 7 per cent in the last three years. The industrial sector has grown at an annual rate of 10.4 per cent. The inflation rate has averaged 7.6 per cent. The balance of payments has shown a dramatic improvement and foreign exchange reserves now exceeding $22.6 billion dollars cover nearly seven months' imports. The deficit on the balance of payments on current account estimated at 1.4 per cent of GDP in the last fiscal year is well within the limits of prudence. The stock of external debt has increased only modestly in the last six years and as a proportion of GDP it has declined from 41 per cent in 1990-91 to about 29 per cent in 1995-96. The debt service ratio has declined from 36 per cent to less than 26 per cent. Meanwhile, the rates of domestic saving and investment in 1995-96 have set a new record. India now is able to attract annually 5-6 billion US dollars by way of foreign direct and portfolio investment.

      5. The reform process is far form complete. The fiscal deficit is still too high for sustained growth. The infrastructure needs large amounts of investment as well as improved management. Public enterprises need credible reforms to improve their efficiency and resource generating capacity. Public finances have to be restructured to enable more resources being devoted to social services such as education and health, environment protection measures and social safety nets to protect the poorest sections of society during the stage of transition to a more dynamic economy. Overall, the domestic savings and investment rates have to go up to at least 30 per cent of GDP. These call for widening and deepening of fiscal and financial sector reforms. Nevertheless, a basis now exists to achieve and annual growth rate of 7-8 per cent, taking into account India's vast human and material resources.

      6. We recognize that in our efforts to modernize our economy we can learn a great deal from the experience of Japan as well as other countries of East and South East Asia. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Government and the people of Japan for their active support for India's economic development. Japan is today the largest donor of official development assistance to India. We greatly appreciate the generosity of the Japanese people. However, we now seek a broader relationship with Japan and other countries of Asia in which flows of trade and private investment will figure more prominently. India now welcomes foreign private investments, particularly in the areas of infrastructure. We are determined to create a hospitable climate for such investments. Moreover, the progressive liberalisation of India's economy will provide new opportunities for two way expansion of trade between India and other countries of Asia.

      7. It is my sincere hope that entrepreneurs of Japan and other countries of East and South East Asia will take an increasing interest in exploring the potentialities of investment in and trade with India. On our part, we are very keen to forge new dynamic linkages with the economies of Asia-Pacific. We are firm in our resolve to become an integral part and parcel of the vigorous growth processes now sweeping Asia. We believe that in an increasingly inter-dependent world that we live in, the future lies in expanding the scope of international cooperation, including strong regional cooperation. Asia is now blessed with a vast pool of savings, technical knowledge, large and expanding markets and high quality human resources. Purposeful regional cooperation can harness these assets to the mutual advantage of Asia and the outside world. The Twenty-first century has the potentiality of being the Asian Century. India is determined to play its role in realizing this dream.

      8. I thank you all for giving me an opportunity to address this distinguished gathering.


    • Technological Innovation

      Dr. Hyung Sup Choi (center)

      Dr. Hyung Sup Choi, President of The Korean Federation of Science and Technology Societies, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Technological Innovation in honor of his efforts to draw up and pursue a national strategy to develop industries by enhancing the role of engineers and skilled labor.

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      Dr. Hyung Sup Choi (center)

      Pushing people to spur technology

      At the end of 1964, Hyung-sup Choi was given a request that would put South Korea on the road to its economic miracle.

      Then-President Park Chung-hee told Choi, then head of the Atomic Energy Research Institute, to mastermind a plan to develop the country's science and technology base and transform the still-agrarian South Korea into a high-tech, export machine.

      South Korea had only recently emerged from the rubble of the 1950-1953 Korean War. Choi, then 44, was told by the president to formulate a strategy to get the country an international competitive edge in industrial technology. He was picked apparently because of his copious knowledge about research in the United States and Japan, where he had studied engineering.

      The first major project Choi undertook was the creation of the Korean Institute of Science and Technology, a governmental organization to support corporate R&D. He was in charge of the project until its completion in 1966.

      The organization adopted a novel system of recruiting leading researchers for educating corporate engineers and technologists. Building similar organizations later became popular in many developing countries.

      Choi said he had to "start from scratch." People still talk about how frantically the researchers at the institute worked in the early days. The organization's main task was reverse engineering, or studying high-quality foreign products by taking them apart, then replicating them to help South Korean companies build their technological base.

      While he was serving as minister of science and technology from 1971 to 1978, Choi established a university system for skilled workers on the model of Germany's meister system, believing skilled workers should constitute the core of manufacturing.

      Choi stirred a national controversy when he proposed that the students of the Korean Advanced Institute for Science should be exempted from military service to allow them to focus on their studies.

      Park was reluctant at first, saying military service was the obligation of all the people. But Choi succeeded in persuading him to adopt the proposal by arguing that a war cannot be fought with guns alone. Few in the government at that time had the stature to stand up to the president as Choi did.

      "Why could I speak to the president so bluntly? It's because, unlike other ministers, I was ready to quit at any time," said Choi.

      Park was assassinated in 1979 and, after much political turmoil, Chun Doo-hwan grabbed power.

      Choi resigned from public office during that transition period to distance himself from the new government and started his activities overseas. Many Asian countries eagerly sought his advice on science-and- technology policy with an eye to emulating South Korea's economic development.

      Choi helped the Thai government draw up a science-and-technology development plan and assisted the Sri Lankan government draft science-and- technology laws. He lent a helping hand to most countries across Asia.

      South Korea has emerged as a major threat to Japanese high-tech industries. Choi, however, limits his praise of the country's achievements, saying South Korea has caught up with Japan in only a few areas.

      Choi, currently president of the Korean Federation of Science and Technology Societies, still has a strong presence in Asia as a prominent adviser on science-and-technology policy.

      Japan and South Korea are both striving to develop original technologies for the future and have many common problems. Choi says he has learned a lot from Japan, but Japan can probably learn as much from his firsthand experience as the man behind much of the South Korean economic wonder.

      Speech text / May 14, 1997

      First of all, I would like to thank Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc. for presenting me with this prize. It is indeed a great honor.

      In recent years, an escalation in the formation of economic blocs has been seen around the world. For us to advance the formation of such a bloc, I think that, as in the cases of

      Europe, the United States, and EU, there should be no major difference in economic standards among the member countries. To eliminate such differences, it is important that industrialized countries take the initiative in improving the technological standards in the neighboring countries and, in concerted effort with these countries, elevate the overall economic standards. In this respect, it is essential to establish an appropriate framework for technological cooperation between the regions under the concept of co- prosperity. This leads to an extremely important problem coming to light: that is, how countries without technology can be supported so that they can develop the technological capabilities suited to their needs.

      Since 1981, I have traveled throughout Southeast Asia giving speeches and lectures on development policies and planning for science and technology. At the end of these speeches and lectures, one question that I always received was "How can we successfully develop science and technology in our country as you have done in Korea?" I always answered, "First of all, your head of state must have a solid belief that science and technology are the most important issues in developing your country." I added, "Next, you need strong leadership that can support this belief, then you need to develop abilities and organize said abilities and, finally, you need a resolute power to bring the country together to push ahead with the plan." As I visited the many developing countries, I learned firsthand that they strongly desire help in their development from industrialized nations and such NIEs as Korea.

      I think that we should take this opportunity to seriously think about the method and type of ties we should have with Southeast Asian and other Asian countries. In particular, I suggest that we rethink what factors must first be considered when engaging in economic trade or investing in a joint venture with such Asian countries.

      In order for us to strengthen economic cooperation with developing Asian nations, I think we should consider more than exporting merchandise or importing raw materials. I think we must think long-term and consider exporting technology or plants. This long-term view not only lends directly to our aim of increased trade, but is a means of helping the other country develop economically. For us to increase trade while maintaining a friendly relationship, we must give in return for what we receive. The most appropriate gift, then, is cooperation in the development of policies and plans for the country's industrialization and support of scientific and technological development so the country can gradually reverse the trend of regression. In essence, it is best to use our past experiences to sincerely support the other country, and export any technologies that may be needed as a result.

      Unlike in the past, various limits can clearly be seen in expanding business to Asia by exporting products. Another point that needs to be taken into account is that each developing nation naturally has its own unique history, culture, social traditions, and customs. Their politics and economic conditions also differ greatly. Therefore, when providing these countries with support or cooperation, it is necessary to first fully understand the country's social structure, conditions, life styles and mentality, so that work can proceed from the country's viewpoint. To this end, we must be prepared to become part of the country's society and seek the best method while performing the work the country requires. If we advance our work based on abstract judgments resulting from casual observations made on the outside, we would be running a risk of repeating major trials and errors and even adversely effecting the country.

      Based on these points, it is necessary for us to fully understand the characteristics and situations of the other country and, based on a relationship of trust and understanding and a long-term view, strive to build a mutually beneficial bloc. To this end, I think it is best to build a foundation of cooperation in science and technology before providing cooperation with merchandise or business.

      Whenever I think about the development of science and technology in developing nations, I remember a phrase in a paper entitled, "Underdeveloped Science in Underdeveloped Countries" by Dr. Stevan Dedijer, a Swedish scientist. The phrase read, "It is extremely difficult to achieve the objectives in the development of science and technology in a developing country unless the head of state executes leadership and the government actively supports this."

      Because of this, I would like to reiterate the importance of developing science and technology by referring to heads of states of developing nations that I have directly met who have the determination and power to put into practice plans concerning scientific and technological development. At the same time, I would like to emphasize that the correct mentality and actions of the scientists and engineers are essential to the development of the country's science and technology. Naturally, most of the heads of state that I have met had tremendous interest in the development of science and technology. Since I cannot talk about all of them, I would like to refer to the case of the former President of Sri Lanka.

      I visited Sri Lanka twice in 1985. UNIDO held a workshop on Sri Lanka's policies concerning science and technology in March 1985. I received an invitation and went to Colombo. Upon my arrival, on the day before the conference, I was asked by the Sri Lankan government to speak on scientific and technological development strategies for developing nations. I accepted the request, since I felt that having come all this way it would be polite to listen to what they wanted. Then, on the evening of March 11, I spoke before Sri Lankan public servants. On the morning of the following day, the twelfth, an opening ceremony was held for the workshop. Sri Lankan President J. R. Jayewardene attended to deliver the opening speech. A simple party was held after the closing ceremony. It was at this party that the Science Advisor to the President approached me and told me that the President wanted to see me and asked if I would come along. I approached the President and greeted him. He then said, "I heard from many people that your speech was excellent, so I would like to know what you spoke about. " I answered that I spoke in detail, primarily referring to cases from Korea, on how to prepare development policies for science and technology in a developing nation and how to put these policies into action. Upon hearing this, President Jayewardene regretted not hearing the speech so he could learn about the subject in more detail. Dr. Cyril Ponnamperuma, the Science Advisor to the President, commented that I had written three books on scientific and technological development strategies for developing nations and that all three books had been translated into English. Hearing this, President Jayewardene asked if he could have one of those books. I replied that I would give him one that I had brought as a gift for the Science Advisor.

      However, I felt that a book would be wasted due to his age of 80 years and lack of knowledge concerning science and technology. Before I left the party, the president asked me if I could extend my stay. I asked if the President had anything in particular that he would like to ask. He replied that he wanted to ask questions after he finished reading the book. He added that if I could not extend my visit, he would like for me to make another visit in the near future. I could only answer that I would do that.

      To keep my promise, I decided to return to Sri Lanka from June 23 to 29, 1985. I arranged to pay a visit to the President on the day after my arrival in Colombo. The President had told me that he would ask me questions after he finished reading the book that I gave him. The questions turned out to be well organized and to the point. He appeared to be extremely satisfied as I answered his questions. Then, he told me that he has a few requests, and presented an organized series of problems. In summary, the first question was, "You state in the book that technological development is essential for the industrialization of a country and that a medium for technological development is also necessary. What can Sri Lanka do?" The second question was, "We must first have the personnel. How can we develop the personnel for science and technology? Would you prepare a method for this?" The third question was, "My personal observation is that developing nations do not have the environment for science and technology to take firm root. Tell me what Korea has done to prepare the environment." He also asked for an explanation on not the general personnel development plan or educational plan, but the course of establishing science institutes and technology universities in Korea and the special measures that were necessary for this process. Finally, he asked me to write the draft for the basic law on the promotion of scientific and technological development.

      The President's questions covered most of the measures that are pertinent to the problem. However, the draft for the basic law alone could not be drawn up in a single day. Fortunately, though, I had the experience of developing and enacting a plan based on a law in Korea so I was familiar with all aspects of the law. Therefore, it was not an extremely difficult task for me. However, since the President's requests covered a wide range of fields, I felt that it would be a slightly heavy burden. Nevertheless, I had to start the work. I experienced considerable difficulty in finishing in a few days, without rest, what may otherwise take more than a few years to complete.

      As I have described, I made many suggestions to Sri Lanka in the fields of science and technology and presented many methods to implement the suggestions. I learned, however, that the plan was not working as I had expected. Then, upon seeking for the cause of the problem, I found out that although the President was enthusiastically promoting the plan, conflicts between domestic and international factions under the President were ruining the effort. I was extremely saddened to hear this. It was a rare case where the top level was agreeable but the lower level had numerous problems. Very few heads of state are as wonderful as President Jayewardene. Therefore, if the head of state understands and aggressively supports a plan, even a difficult problem can be solved. Thus, it is important to place the development on track.

      Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to and recognize the efforts of Chairman Hiraiwa and the other judges of the Nikkei Asia Prizes, and Executive Managing Director Mr. Sugita and others of Nihon Keizai Shimbun.

      Thank you.


    • Culture

      Prof. Jose Maceda (left)

      Prof. Jose Maceda, Professor Emeritus of the University of the Philippines, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture to honor his achievement in studying the structures of Asian music and composing music based on this theory.

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      Prof. Jose Maceda (left)

      Composing music of past and present

      At 80, Jose Maceda is energetically composing a dynamic hybrid between Western and Southeast Asian musical traditions.

      "Ethnic music in Southeast Asia is inseparably intertwined with religion and mysticism in the region and coexists with nature," Maceda says.

      The melodies created by the octogenarian have fascinated the world with their luscious expressions of the Southeast Asian musical spirit.

      While modern music is increasingly performed by a small number of professional players using digital instruments, Maceda has tried to narrow the distance between the performers and the audience with music played by a large number of performers using traditional instruments.

      His music is mostly played outdoors by tens or sometimes hundreds of performers employing traditional instruments, like the gong. Maceda's magnum opus, "Udlot-Udlot," was once played by 800 performers, and "Pagsamba" was performed by 100 singers and 100 players.

      Applauding Maceda's unique activities, the late Toru Takemitsu, Japan's leading composer, once said, "This Phil-ippine composer, who listens to the eternal sound of the earth, is always avant-garde."

      Yuji Takahashi, a Japanese composer who has known Maceda for 30 years, argues his music is an "antipode" to the current Western music.

      "Limiting the use of technology to its minimum, Maceda seeks musical expressions well adjusted to nature," Takahasi says. "His musical theory has had such a great impact on Japanese and Western composers that they have started to take a fresh look at gamelan music."

      Like most of the Philippine elite of his generation, Maceda studied in the U.S. and Europe when he was young. His contacts with "mechanical" Western music opened his eyes to Asian music, which is freer and more flexible, he says.

      In the 1950s, Maceda began his field work on ethnic music all over Southeast Asia. His research covered areas where the natives didn't even have their own word for "music."

      Maceda discovered common characteristics in the large variety of traditional melodies of many areas, such as the use of a unique bass sound called drone, repetition and polarity of melodies, and a vague concept of timing. From those features, he perceived a strong identification between the village community and special musical concepts born out of indigenous culture and ancient philosophy.

      Maceda, who lives on the campus of the University of the Philippines in Quezon City, is currently doing comparative research on Asian court music.

      "A line of thought unaffected by the real world links court music scattered throughout Asia," he observes. His research covers the court music in Japan, China and Korea.

      As professor emeritus of the University of the Philippines, Maceda visits Japan once or twice a year. He plans to perform a new piece for children in Kyoto in November.

      "Southeast Asian music reflects the richness and density of nature as well as the rituals of the timeless village communities in the region."

      Speech text / May 14, 1997

      I am most grateful to receive a distinguished award that Nihon Keizai Shimbun is bestowing on me and my fellow recipients from India and Korea.

      I am accepting this prize as a recognition of my research activities and music compositions, an honor I am most happy to share with my wife who is here with me. I also accept this award in the name of the University of the Philippines where I have worked for decades and where results of my researches are deposited in the U.P. Ethnomusicology Archives. . I am glad that the Ambassador of the Philippines to Japan, His Excellency, Mr. Alfonso Yuchengco, is able to join us today.

      I am deeply thankful to famous musicians and musicologists who have helped introduce my music or made known my researches in Japan.
      These are:
      Professor Shigeo Kishibe, a long-time friend.
      Mr. Yuji Takahasi, who translated into Japanese several of my works.
      Ms. Aki Takahashi, who commissioned and performed my musics, together with his brother, Yuji.
      Professor Kuniharu Akiyama who sadly passed away last year, helped in introducing my music Strata to the "Sendai Asian Music festival '92.
      Mr. Toru Takemitsu, who together with Mr.Watakabe Akira,advisor to the President of Suntory Hall helped to commission and present my music Distemperament in the Suntory International Music Festival.
      Professor Yutaka Fujishima together with Professor Shin Nakagawa presented in Kyoto and other cities in Japan and Germany several musics of mine.
      Profesor Tomoaki Fujii is my co-board member at the Asia Pacific Society for Ethnomusicology Professor Yoshihiko Tokumaru acknowledged my work in the Koizumi Ethnomusicology award.
      Professor Osamu Yamaguti interviewed me in television on my music and researches.
      Professor Gen'ichi Tsuge is a colleague in conferences Dr. Alan Feinstein and Ms. Reiko Ogawa of the Japan Foundation favor projects on the musics of Southeast Asia The Toyota Foundation had supported a research work of mine.

      Ethnomusicological researches in Asia disclose concrete elements showing tangible links in the structure of court music in East-Southeast Asia and court of classical music in Europe, indentifiable in counts of four, a regular of expected beat and bipolar oppositions between fifth and other interuals.

      Counts of four and the beat regulate "rhythm" and "melody". A bipolarity between fifths is crystallized in European harmony with similar oppositions and other usages of fifths in gamelan, pi-phaad, gagaku, a- aku and Tang melodies. Intervals are in turn based on lengths of vibrating bodies and proportions, the very subject of music in ancient Greece with a corresponding knowledge in West Asian antiquity, still to be understood and clarified in its relation to music.

      In relating this thinking of the past to the present a question arises on how a very old concept of mathematical proportions can still be represented in music of the 21st century.

      I regret that because of a lack of time and space, it is not possible to include other names that in some way made known my music and music research in Japan. I reiterate my thanks to the Nikkei Keizai Shimbun for this prestigious award.


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    • Regional Growth

      Prof. Dr. Widjojo Nitisastro (right)

      Prof. Dr. Widjojo Nitisastro, Economic Adviser to the Government of the Republic of Indonesia, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth in honor of his work as a policy planner who helped foster economic growth in Indonesia by encouraging the use of the market mechanism.

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      Prof. Dr. Widjojo Nitisastro (right)

      Firm policies pave the way to growth

      In November 1994, when heads of state met for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Indonesia, they released the Bogor Declaration, calling for free trade and investment throughout the region by 2020.

      The host of the Bogor meeting, Indonesia's President Suharto, took the initiative in compiling the declaration. In framing his proposal, Suharto relied on the counsel of Professor Widjojo Nitisastro, 68, economic adviser to the Indonesian government. "Specialists from all over the world cooperated; I was only one of them," he said.

      The relationship between President Suharto and Widjojo dates to 1966, before Suharto rose to the presidency. Suharto, then a military commander, asked the promising young economist to help him rebuild the Indonesian economy.

      With 190 million people, Indonesia is home to 40% of the population of Southeast Asia. But its economic history has been checkered: In the 1960s the economy was on the verge of collapse, with annual inflation running at several hundred percent and international loans in default.

      Widjojo began his mission by negotiating with Japan and other creditor nations. He went to then-Finance Minister Takeo Fukuda. "Fukuda helped us to the point of changing Japanese law," he said.

      Watching hard-working women during his visit to Japan, Widjojo realized "the help we're getting comes out of their taxes." He kept his promise to pay back the yen loans, even though Indonesia was having great difficulty procuring foreign currency. He initiated a string of policies ? stabilizing prices, reducing the country's dependence on oil revenue and attracting foreign capital - which enabled the developing economy to take off.

      This was seen by many Indonesians as U.S.-style economic policy. The group of young economist- bureaucrats Widjojo led was labeled the Berkeley Mafia, who would, in the view of one observer, "sell the home country to foreigners." Many of the bureaucrats then in charge of the economy had studied at the University of California, Berkeley. Widjojo was one of them, and he did not relent. "These policies follow economic principles," he insisted.

      As a result, Indonesia started on the road to industrialization, pushing per-capita gross domestic product to more than US$1,000 by last year. Inflation has stabilized at below 10%. Paved roads have spread into the countryside and mandatory education has been extended to junior high school. The disparity between rich and poor is still wide in Indonesia, but poverty has been steadily fading.

      In the local media, Widjojo is known as the architect of Indonesia's economic system.

      Widjojo said he "decided to study economics when I saw the poverty of the farming villages."

      Speech text / May 15, 1996

      Nihon Keizai Shimbun under the leadership of Mr. Takuhiko Tsuruta has established the Nikkei Asia Prizes to promote understanding among countries of the Asia Pacific Region. It is a great honour for me to be awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth and I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to Nihon Keizai Shimbun for this honour.

      My profound thanks also goes to all members of the Selection Committee under the chairmanship of Mr. Gaishi Hiraiwa. To be chosen by the distinguished Selection Committee from among so many eminent persons in Asia who left their marks in promoting regional growth is truly an exceptional distinction for me.

      Allow me to look upon this distinguished honour conferred upon me as an expression of appreciation and confidence in my country, its people and its government for their endeavours to promote regional growth and regional cooperation. My role has been limited to contributing in a small way to advancing mutual understanding and mutual confidence.

      On this auspicious occasion perhaps I could share with you some of my thoughts on regional growth and regional cooperation. In developing a vision of the future it seems appropriate to ask ourselves what can be learned from the past. Looking back at Indonesia's history of the last 30 years, the first lesson is that a fundamental economic transformation of a country and its economic relations with other countries can indeed be accomplished. In order to bring about a fundamental economic transformation, a few requirements are to be met. These are, first of all, a national resolve, a determined leadership, clear directions , and full commitments to put your own economic house in order and to live in peace with your neighbours. The next requirement is a sympathetic understanding by other nations and a readiness on their part to develop an effective and mutually advantageous economic cooperation.

      Here the relations and economic cooperation between Japan and Indonesia comes to mind. During the middle of the 1960s Indonesia faced a myriad of problems, including widespread food scarcity, hyperinflation, stagnant industries, substantial unemployment, rapidly deteriorating infrastructure, and a balance of payments crisis. At that time many international analysts and observers held out little hope for Indonesia's future. The turning point came in 1966 when the new government of Indonesia adopted an economic stabilization and rehabilitation programme, a balanced budget, and a competitive exchange rate. At that time the country was confronted with a severe foreign debt crisis. Debt payment due, including arrears, exceeded exports earnings. In September 1966, at the initiative of the Government of Japan, the first meeting between the new government of Indonesia and its creditors took place in Tokyo. That first meeting, convened at the initiative of the Government of Japan, provided Indonesia the opportunity to announce and explain its new economic and financial policies. Three months later, in December 1966, the Tokyo meeting was followed-up by the Paris Club meeting which agreed to reschedule Indonesia's foreign debts. After two months, in February 1967, the first meeting of the Inter- Governmental Group on Indonesia (IGGI) took place in Amsterdam at the initiative of the Government of the Netherlands. Both the Paris Club meeting on Indonesia's foreign debt and the IGGI meeting would not have taken place without that crucial Tokyo meeting in September 1966.

      Many occasions of effective economic cooperation between the two countries followed. In 1970 a plan for a final settlement of Indonesia's debt crisis was worked out in the Paris Club. Initially, the plan did not receive the support of the Government of Japan since it was contrary to the provisions in the existing laws of Japan. Had the Government of Japan at that time continuously opposed such a settlement in the Paris Club, no agreement with any creditor could have been reached. But instead, the Government of Japan and in particular the late Mr. Takeo Fukuda, who was then Minister of Finance, made a determined effort to overcome such legal impediments by successfully introducing an amendment to the existing laws. In today ' s language of development cooperation, it was an act reflecting the true spirit of cooperation between partners in development.

      The second lesson of Indonesia's recent economic history is related to the existence of so many uncertainties and unpredictable events. On the world scene, events such as what happened to the Berlin Wall and to the Sovyet Union are cases in point. We may be tempted to say that in today's world the only certainty is that there are numerous uncertainties. One example of uncertainty in the past was the two external shocks experienced by the Indonesian economy during 1986. The sharp appreciation of the Japanese yen against the US dollar and at the same time the very rapid decline of international oil prices were a double blow to the Indonesian economy. But here again, the Government of Japan reacted positively and immediately. Such a deep understanding of the predicaments of a developing country is indeed quite rare in the present world.

      What we also learn is clearly that through national resolve and determination a country can achieve a high a degree of resilience in facing the challenge of uncertainties. In a world full of uncertain and unpredictable events we must be able to firmly establish national resilience and to work together towards achieving regional resilience as well as global resilience.

      Here comes the role and the responsibility of the mass media. In facing this uncertain world it depends very much on the ability and the efforts of the mass media to promote mutual understanding between nation. It is very hearting to note that the present initiative of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun to establish the Nikkei Asia Prizes is a reflection of that spirit.


    • Technological Innovation

      Prof. Yuan Longping (left)

      Prof. Yuan Longping, Director General, Hunan Hybrid Rice Research Center of China, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Technological Innovation in honor of his efforts to increase large- scale rice production by developing unique hybrid rice-breeding technology.

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      Prof. Yuan Longping (left)

      Researcher strains to produce better rice

      "If you want money, ask Deng Xiaoping. If you want a belly full of rice, ask Professor Yuan. "That saying reflects the reputation of Yuan Longping, director of the Hunan Hybrid Rice Research Center, located in the suburbs of Changsha, the major city of Hunan Province.

      Yuan, 65, is a pioneer in the development of hybrid rice strains. His varieties include a type that does not reproduce but yields at least 20% more rice per plant as in Japan. About half of all paddies under cultivation in China are planted with hybrid rice.

      Until the early 1960s, China often suffered famines. But two separate technical revolutions in rice horticulture changed that: the introduction in the mid-1960s of a short-stemmed plant with sturdier stalks, and a hybrid variety developed by Yuan in the mid-1970s.

      Serendipity led to the development of the hybrid. After graduating from Xinan Agricultural University in Sichuan Province, Yuan took a teaching job at an agricultural school in Hunan Province in southern China. Seeing the impoverished life of the rural villagers, he decided to try to develop a high-yielding rice strain.

      His first development, about 1962, was a fast-growing, hardy plant. But, although he was overjoyed with it, quality varied and his expectations were shattered. Nevertheless, that first plant provided a big clue.

      He began full-scale research into hybrid rice in 1964, but his initial results were less than remarkable. At that time, although research was under way in Japan as well, only published results from the Soviet Union had made their way into China. He had a number of demoralizing failures, but finally achieved success after nine agonizing years.

      He produced a variety with higher yields and uniform quality by crossing 29 South No.1, a strain bred from wild plants of the island province of Hainan, with IR24, developed by the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines.

      About this time, the Chinese government took notice of the research and created a national project with about 1,000 researchers from around the country. Yuan led the program.

      Today, Yuan is concerned with developing technology that will lead to a new revolution in rice crops. He warns that China's food supply is under great strain due to its growing population.

      Using the latest techniques in biotechnology, Yuan is entering the third stage of his research - one that may see yields increase many-fold within one or two years. He has confidence that China can resolve its food-supply problem on its own.

      Yuan's greatest joy is to be in the paddies nurturing his plants. His dream is to discover something new - a hybrid rice plant that he can deliver to the world to help eliminate famine.

      Speech text / May 15, 1996

      Esteemed Chairman, President Tsuruta, Ladies and Gentlemen:

      I am very honored to have been invited to Japan to receive the Nikkei Asia Prizes from the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc., the highest authority in economic news. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for being elected the first recipient of the Nikkei Asia Prizes. At the same time I want to thank the committee of judges from the bottom of my heart for their kind praise of both Chinese hybrid rice and my achievements in that field.

      Research in hybrid rice began in China in 1964. The first successes were achieved in 1973 after nine years of experimentation. Hybrid rice started being cultivated broadly in 1976. Many years of experiments show an obvious increase in yields as a result of using hybrid rice. Hybrid rice produces a 20% greater than regular varieties of rice under the same conditions. Hybrid rice is now cultivated in 15,334,100 ha, 50% of the total rice paddy area, and 57% of the total cereal crop yield is derived from hybrid rice. In 1995 hybrid rice yielded 6.7 tons per hectare while regular varieties produced 5.2 tons per hectare. Hybrid rice has been used throughout China for 20 years and the accumulated area surpasses 187 million hectares with the total increased yield over 280 billion kilograms. This demonstrated that hybrid rice has made a great contribution to China through improving grain yields.

      Although hybrid rice research and application have already accomplished outstanding achievements, there is no limit to science. In the area of plant breeding, hybrid rice is still in the initial stages of development with a great potential with a bright future. The species of hybrid rice used in current production belongs to the "advantage-taking" category. To further improve the yield of rice paddy we are working on developing a sub-species of hybrid rice which is of stronger advantage. Its potential yield is 20% higher than today's hybrid rice. Initial results have already been achieved with this project and it will be applied in production in the near future, which will push the rice paddy yield of China up to a new level.

      Science has no boundaries. I believe the hybrid rice project belongs not only to China but to the whole world. This project can contribute to the well-being of the Chinese people, and the well-being of all the people in the world. One of my greatest wishes is that hybrid rice can be used throughout the world, as I believe it can play an important role in solving the starvation problems that the human race is facing. Recently, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has gradually been carrying out a plan of spreading hybrid rice to developing countries. As part of this plan, Chinese experts including myself have been providing technical support, and we have already achieved very good results in Vietnam and India. Hybrid rice has produced a remarkable increase in production compared to local improved seeds. It is being spread intensely and has bright future. I firmly believe that as hybrid rice is gradually used in more and more countries, it will make a great contribution to the happiness of mankind and peace in the world.

      Being granted the first "Nikkei Asia Prizes" is a great encouragement to me. As a scientist I shall continue to exert myself and give my best to the undertaking of developing hybrid rice on a global scale. At the same time, I sincerely hope that hybrid rice can get more support from various circles, especially from our friends in Japan, so that its benefit to the people of the world can become available more quickly and grow even further.

      Thank you!


    • Culture

      Mrs. Dara Kanlaya (center)

      Mrs. Dara Kanlaya, Deputy Director of the Department of Literature and Mass Culture at the Laotian Ministry of Information and Culture, was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture in honor of her efforts to preserve cultural heritage by compiling a library of palm-leaf manuscripts.

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      Mrs. Dara Kanlaya (center)

      Curator leafs through Laotian history

      "Two things you can find in every village, no matter how small, are history and traditional culture. Without knowledge of these, culture cannot progress." Dara Kanlaya has distilled this philosophy down to a single consuming study - of leaves.

      Not just any old foliage. Bailane is palm leaf hard enough to be used as "pages" for written records. The leaves are cut into strips 5cm wide and about 50cm long. Letters are etched into the surface with a metal brush, then stained with black ink. The inscribed leaves are tied together with string to form a kind of book. These palm-leaf manuscripts can last for hundreds of years. They have been passed down throughout Southeast Asia, mainly as records of Buddhist canons.

      But these classics, written in old-fashioned Laotian letters and other little-used scripts, have been neglected or forgotten amid war and modernization. That's where Kanlaya came in. She proposed that these precious relics be cataloged and preserved.

      The work began about 10 years ago. An archive was set up within the Ministry of Information and Culture. Kanlaya was appointed as its head. She was initially in charge of only a tiny staff, and things did not begin smoothly.

      When her office announced it was doing a survey, many temples mistakenly believed their bailane would be confiscated and refused to show them to the researchers. The team also ran into superstition. Some people were afraid they would be cursed if they unsealed bailane.

      Gradually, though, the scale of the survey expanded from the Vientiane area to Luang Prabang, a city 230km northwest of the current capital. Luang Prabang was the capital of two kingdoms from the 14th to 19th centuries.

      "We made many visits - to this temple, to that village. The number of bailane we found far surpassed what we had expected," Kanlaya said.

      To date, the group has counted about 127,000 bailane, found at fewer than 300 temples. The ages of the bailane range from several hundred years to only several decades. Most are related to Buddhism, but the rest cover a wide range of subjects, including village customs, folk legends, folk songs, poems, herbal lore, dynastic history, astronomy, fortune-telling and court proceedings.

      "Some even record personal wishes, things like 'I want to find a good wife,'" said Kanlaya.

      All the bailane are separated by category and entered in a computerized catalog. Some of the manuscripts concerning law and folklore have been translated into modern Laotian and published.

      Through these discoveries, a legacy of Laotian history and a treasure trove of culture have been restored to life in the modern age.

      A visit to a farming village in the outskirts of Vientiane: Everyone in the village - young and old, men, women and children - gathers noisily in the main hall of the temple. Standing next to a monk, Kanlaya shows a video about the ministry's efforts to record bailane throughout the country.

      Each villager takes up one palm-leaf manuscript at a time and cleans it, beginning the process of preservation.

      "This is a project we Lao began ourselves, in order that Lao people might know their country," explains Kanlaya. "We have everyone in the village see this, then get them to participate. That is very important."

      Although Kanlaya always speaks with a modest reserve, her grass-roots approach to cultural promotion continues to win converts throughout Laos.

      As the nation of 4.7 million people opens up to the rest of the world, the penetration of foreign cultural influence is bound to intensify.

      For Kanlaya, the matter is pressing. We must pass on the tradition of bailane to our youth, she said, "because it is our own culture."

      Speech text / May 15, 1996

      Mr. Takuhiko Tsuruta, Ladies and Gentlemen.

      Japan is still as beautiful as ever, and this is an ap-propriate place for receiving a prize which has significance not only in Japan but also all over the world.

      I am very pleased to attend the very first prizes-awards ceremony. I feel especially honored to have been chosen as the recipient of the Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture for l996.

      I cannot find words to express my feelings. My heart is so full that I cannot ever forget this moment throughout my life.

      I take this opportunity to thank all of you and all Japanese people from the bottom of my heart.

      I have worked for projects undertaken jointly with Japan on many occasions, and have visited Japan several times to attend conferences and do other things. Every time I come to Japan, I have new experiences so I bring them back as my memories to my home country. I tell my colleagues what I experienced and what lessons I learned here in Japan. I also tell my mother and family members how I enjoyed things here.

      My mother likes to hear her children tell their stories. This is because she is illiterate. She learns by listening, observing and experiencing. She has a lot of experience, since she has as many as 15 children. My father entered the priesthood when he was very young, but returned to secular life at the age of 25. In those days a man had a chance to study if he became a priest. He leaned about Buddhism by reading scriptures written in Pali and studied Laotian literature written in ancient characters, and became an expert in these fields. He wrote textbooks on the language of Pali for use in monasteries, as well as other important textbooks, including the grammar of the Laotian language, a dictionary of the Laotian language, the history of Lao sand the art of divination. He also read ancient Laotian literature written on palm leaves and rewrote it in present-day Laotian characters. His work has become the cornerstone of modern Laotian literature. He loved composing poems. Every time he wrote a poem, he read it to my mother. When she made some comments on it, he revised his work in accordance with her advice. Such was the environment in which I was raised.

      I was born in 1940, when the world was gripped by the nightmare of World War II. Laos was not immune from it. My father was an activist who attempted to establish the identity of Laos. His activities led to his being arrested by the French authorities then ruling our country. His arrest put our family into a very difficult situation. My father always had to stay away from us. As one of his children, I was subjected to various restrictions. In early 1941, my father sought refuge in Thailand, leaving me and my mother behind. At that time she had only two children, my brother and me. She worked very hard to feed her children, and at the same time tried to find ways to go and see my father in Thailand. However, the three of us -- my mother, my six-year-old brother and myself, eight months old at that time -- were captured, put on trial, and were deprived of freedom for one month and 18 days.

      After we were released, my mother did not give up her attempt to flee. She finally succeeded in doing so. Inl942, all members of our family met in Bangkok, Thailand. Our life in a foreign country lasted until 1948, after which my father took all of his family back to their homeland.

      It was during his stay in Bangkok that my father had an opportunity to study many works of Laotian literrature and print them. They were Sinxay, Sane Lup Pasoune and Thao Houng Thao Cheuang. I consider myself very fortunate, in the sense that I grew up among mountains of my father's books. Among them were palm-1eaf volumes written in ancient Laotian characters, books printed in Thai characters, and my father's handwritten copies. He read me many stories written in verse. Sometimes he read a story in such away that I may be able to recite it. As I learned to recite a story, my mother and grandmother (my mother's mother) wanted to hear it. Fortunately, I had the chance to learn to recite a 17th-century poem which was the original version of Sang Sinxay, when I was only eight years old. I had only a vague idea about what the words meant. My mother and grandmother, who listened to me, taught me the meaning of each line of the verse.

      When I returned to Laos in 1948, I, like other children, entered school as a matter of course. What I did not expect was that children in Laos were supposed to learn French, whereas in Thailand we learned and wrote the Thai language (1 learned Lao at home from my father.) In those days Laotian children had only two hours a week to study Lao as part of their primary education, one hour on writing and taking dictation, and one hour on reading and reciting. 1 liked very much to read Sang Sinxay, Thao Houng, Thao Cheuang and various other literary works, and I was disappointed to find that I had to sit through tedious hours writing French. One day, during a history class our teacher said to us, "Our country was once LaGaule." Upon hearing those words, my distrust, which was growing until that day, melted away. I told my father about that. From that day on I began to learn the history of Laos from him with absorbed interest.

      I had the chance to learn French and English. That gave me an opportunity to come into close contact with French literature and world literature. Even so. I had strong attachment to Laotian literature from my earlier days. When I was working as a teacher -- I was teaching French in my official capacity -- I had growing desire to spread the Laotian language and literature among my students, who were also my friends. My father said to me, "Language is the symbol of a state, while literature is the heart of language." Laos has written language (characters) and descriptive literature. Such literature is recorded in piles of palm leaves. I strongly wished that new generations of the Lao people would have a deeper understanding of literature of their own country.

      My life is inseparable from literature. I could not help reading literary works and writing some myself. While teaching, I wrote short stories, long stories and poems, and began translating foreign literary works.

      Among ancient Laotian literary works, palm-leaf manuscripts contained many things which had remained unknown for a long time. We had to undertake the project of restoring and preserving palm leaves in order to protect our ancestors' wisdom against the passage of time and hand it down safely to later generations.

      The project of cataloging and recording palm-leaf manuscripts was undertaken from 1989 to 1994 with the support of the Toyota Foundation. The project started in three provinces of Laos. Then its scope was extended to cover six provinces -- Vientiane (municipality).Vientiane (province), Luangphabang, Khammouane, Savannakhet and Champasak -- which were chosen as the treasure trove of palm leaves along the Mekong.

      The first thing to do under the project is to go to the country side and remote places having temples which, we may say, form the core of mass culture. Palm leaves are found in scripture houses and main buildings of such temples. They are placed in beautifully sculptured wooden boxes. To most people, it may have seemed strange that a woman should travel through the length of the country to talk to priests about palm-1eaf manuscripts. Our project team made special efforts to encourage priests and local residents to cooperate with us in preserving cultural heritage. We taught them how to clean palm leaves and preserve them, hoping that they would continue efforts to preserve their cultural legacy after we left. We visited more than three hundred temples in all. Whichever village we visited, we found people there very cooperative. Little by little, the people came to realize that preserving palm leaves was something they had to do on their own.

      It is true that in certain periods of our history, palm leaves were left unattended, but this is because there was no one who knew how to read messages written on them, nor sufficient funds to preserve them in good condition. We live in an age when products of new culture such as foreign books illustrated with pretty pictures and video and cassette tapes affect the daily life of the people and the way goods are produced. Some people prefer foreign language material simply because they are engulfed in waves of commercialism. Such people unknowingly accept the kind of culture which is totally incompatible with their daily living. The Laotian government recently adopted the policy of cultural revival, which is in keeping with social and economic development. Thus, the project of preserving palm leaves assumed special significance. It became one of our tasks to transmit the knowledge written on palm leaves. This is a very demanding, time-consuming work. Fortunately, we received support from the United Nations and many countries and foundations. In Japan, the Toyota Foundation supported our efforts.

      In the 21st century, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to achieve further economic and scientific development. However, we should not forget basic ethics in the process. What should we do to live a decent life, remains spiritually healthy and take care not to destroy each other, animals or the natural environment while economic and scientific developments continue? Laos's palm-1eaf culture tells a lot about our own past. Knowing our own past should help us adapt to the 2lst-century world which is just around the corner.

      One of the most notorious social problems in our region at a time when we are approaching the end of the 20th century is that children and daughters are sold for money. This is something we should be deeply ashamed of as we move into the next century. In Eastern-bloc countries, families are breaking up. Such social ills are increasing not only in our communities but all over the world.

      There are many more social ills, including violence, suppression, belittlement of women, and drugs. How can we eliminate these problems? It may be that the wisdom and moral sense of ancient people, particularly Asians, may be a help in solving them. Even if such problems are not eradicated completely from the globe, they may be reduced at least. I think so. I believe so.

      Thank you very much.


4th Winner


Who's Next?

Nominations are welcome from anyone who knows about worthy candidates. You may nominate candidate via our nomination form. Self-nominations are not accepted.

Nominations for the 4th Nikkei Asia Award are now closed.
The next nomination entries will open in 2025.