Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong headed Singapore’s delegation to the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly and arrived in New York Saturday (Sept 21) for a week-long working visit. During the visit, the prime minister will deliver Singapore’s position on global issues, meet with United States President Donald Trump and will address world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly.
In New York, PM Lee will receive the 2019 World Statesman Award.
According to the foundation’s president Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Mr Lee is recognised for fostering a society that embraces multiculturalism, in which ethnic communities maintain their unique way of life while living harmoniously. He is likewise recognised for supporting a knowledge-based economy, an education system that provides Singaporeans with the necessary skills to survive in a globally competitive environment, as well as for implementing a world-class health infrastructure.
The award honours leaders “who support peace and freedom by promoting tolerance, human dignity and human rights by championing these causes in their homeland and working with other world leaders to build a better future for all.”
The Conscience of Appeal Foundation, is a New York-based interfaith organisation that promotes “peace, tolerance and ethnic conflict resolution.” Founded in 1965, the Foundation presents the World Statesman Award annually to leaders who champion the cause of peace, freedom, tolerance and human rights. Previous recipients of the award include British PM David Cameron and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
After New York, the Prime Minister will make an official visit to Armenia from Sep 28 to Oct 1.
The World Statesman Award
This year’s awards dinner will be held in tribute to billionaire real estate developer and philanthropist Stephen M Ross; Timotheus Hottges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom AG; and Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube. Here are a few things to know about the longstanding award:
A list of notable recipients
Among some of the award’s notable recipients are former French presidents François Hollande (2016) and Nicolas Sarkozy (2008), former British PM David Cameron (2015), former South Korean president Lee Myung-bak (2009), and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (2007).
While the award has never been controversial, in 2013, the foundation’s decision to award then-Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was met with criticism from human rights groups.
Foundation led by Rabbi Arthur Schneier, a holocaust
The Appeal of Conscience Foundation was initiated in 1965 by Rabbi Arthur Schneier, an Austrian-born American rabbi. The 89-year-old Jewish leader has been a longtime human rights activist with multiple recognitions and awards from various governments and institutions across the world.
Schneier is a holocaust survivor. He lived under Nazi occupation in Budapest during World War II and arrived in the United States in 1947.
Praised by US presidents from Reagan to Trump
With its long history of promoting religious freedom and harmony across the world, the foundation has on numerous occasions been praised by US presidents.
“Since 1965, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation has advocated the moral cause of religious liberty and mutual understanding among the great faiths and in nations across our world. And to this day, the Foundation continues to build cultural respect and peaceful discourse,” Donald Trump reportedly said in 2017.
Former US president Barack Obama also said in 2015: “In too many corners of the globe, people are still persecuted for their beliefs, imprisoned for their ideals, and punished for their convictions. By striving to shape a future in which the rights and dignity of every person are protected, organizations like yours play a vital role in bringing us closer to a more just and equal world.”
Back in 1987, former US president Ronald Reagan also described the foundation as “a leader in the struggle for religious freedom and human rights around the world.”