Conservationist bags first 'outstanding advocate' award

Dr Ho Hua Chew is the first person to be named "Outstanding Advocate of our Time" by the Singapore Advocacy Awards. He led the Nature Society in a quest to conserve Sungei Buloh.
Dr Ho Hua Chew is the first person to be named "Outstanding Advocate of our Time" by the Singapore Advocacy Awards. He led the Nature Society in a quest to conserve Sungei Buloh.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Almost three decades ago, Dr Ho Hua Chew led the Nature Society (Singapore) in a quest to conserve the bird haven Sungei Buloh, which was slated for redevelopment. It turned out to be the first time a civil society group successfully lobbied the Government for a change of plans.

Yesterday, Dr Ho was named "Outstanding Advocate of our Time", the first award of its kind.

The 70-year-old, who joined the society in 1971, is currently the vice-chairman of its conservation committee.

Dr Ho told The Sunday Times that he was very surprised and honoured to receive the award.

"How do I retire (from conservation work) when I got such a kick from this award," he joked.

Other award winners

Four other awards were given out at the Singapore Advocacy Awards yesterday. Here's what the Working Committee 3 (TWC3) said about the recipients:

ADVOCATE OF THE YEAR

Writing eloquently and courageously, she provides thoughtful, critical and passionate commentary... giving her readers in Singapore and abroad fresh perspectives.

TWC3, on Kirsten Han, who won the award.


PROMISING ADVOCATE OF THE YEAR

In 2014, June and her late sister Irene founded The T Project, the only shelter in Singapore for transgender persons. The T Project also aims to empower the transgender community and enable its members to lead more dignified and fulfilling lives.

TWC3, on June Chua, who won the award.


ADVOCATE ORGANISATION OF THE YEAR

Non-profit theatre company Drama Box creates and presents works to raise social awareness and inculcate civic responsibility amongst Singaporeans.

TWC3, on Drama Box, which won the award.


ADVOCATE ORGANISATION OF THE YEAR

The Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, has since 2004 championed the rights of migrant workers in Singapore and provided them with direct services, including welfare assistance and skills and empowerment training.

TWC3, on Home, which won the award.

Organised by civil society activist group The Working Committee 3 (TWC3), the Singapore Advocacy Awards honour those who have made major contributions to the growth of civil society here.

TWC3 said the new award was created because Dr Ho was "head and shoulders above other welldeserving advocates".

Dr Ho, who was previously a lecturer in the National University of Singapore's Department of Philosophy, said: "In recent times, we have seen a great advance in responsiveness and openness from the relevant authorities we have been dealing with - resulting in very amicable and friendly resolution of issues, even when we are taking a bold stand."

In its citations for Dr Ho, TWC3 said: "His commitment to the cause and unflagging efforts over the last three decades have inspired and empowered not just fellow activists and advocates but countless nature lovers and ordinary Singaporeans."

Mrs Constance Singam, who chairs TWC3, said in a speech at the award ceremony at the Singapore Management University that it has received 15 nominations for four awards this year.

"The Singapore Advocacy Awards tries each year to highlight the best examples of advocacy work for following their convictions with courage, for having an impact on society and so empowering other activists to follow in their steps," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 21, 2016, with the headline 'Conservationist bags first 'outstanding advocate' award'. Print Edition | Subscribe