Thai scholar Dr Phasuk Phongpaichit and her husband, the well-known Thailand-based writer Dr Chris Baker, are the winners of the Fukuoka Grand Prize this year. Cambodian musician Kong May won the Art and Culture Prize and Chinese Professor Wang Ming picked up the Academic Prize.
The 2017 winners were announced on Thursday. The jury described Prof Pasuk and Dr Baker as worthy recipients of the Grand Prize, because of their multi-disciplinary and comprehensive analysis of the social changes Thailand has experienced since the period of rapid economic growth in the 1980s. It noted that their analyses, which are based on a combination of Western and Eastern intellectual approaches, and of methodologies from the social sciences and the humanities, have added breadth and depth to academic research, in both subjectmatter and methodology, in a fresh and distinctively Asian way; and also made mention of their active contributions to society.
Winner of the Academic Prize, Prof Wang Ming is one of the leaders of NGO studies and environmental governance in China. He founded the Tsinghua University NGO Research Centre to introduce NGO studies to China and also opened up the new academic field of philanthropy. He has raised academic standards in this field in China, through field surveys, which he considers vital, and by introducing socio-scientific methods from abroad. He has also educated many young researchers.
Respected Khmer musician Kong Nay is one of few remaining heirs to the tradition of chapey musical performance, handing on this legacy to a new generation. Through his performance and composition, he has spread awareness, throughout the world of the charm and versatility of this music, and has also contributed greatly to the training of young musicians, to the UN’s human rights activities and to events to support disabled people.
The Fukuoka Prize was established in 1990 by the city and the Yokatopia Foundation (formerly the Fukuoka City International Foundation) to honour outstanding achievements by individuals, groups or organisations in preserving and creating the unique and diverse cultures of Asia.
The Fukuoka Prize asks for nominations from approximately 7,000 experts in different fields in the Asian region. To date there have been 105 prize recipients from 27 countries and regions and past laureates have continued to be recognised around the world. They include Muhammad Yunus, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 and Mo Yan, who was recognised with the Nobel Literature Prize in 2012.
Several Thai scholars and artists have been recognised with awards, among them statesman ML Kukrit Pramoj, who was honoured with the Special Commemorative Award in 1990, archaeologist and historian MC Subhadradis Diskul, Dr Nidhi Eoseewong, Prof Srisakra Vallibhotama and Dr Charnvit Kasetsiri plus artist Thawan Duchanee and filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
The award ceremony will be held at Fukuoka on September 21.