Malaysia's longest-serving Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has been named the recipient of 2012 Rafik Hariri UN-Habitat Memorial award, recognizing leadership, statesmanship and good governance.
The Award’s steering committee announced the winner on Monday in Paris after an international jury selected Dr. Mohamad over 13 other nominations from Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, United States, Canada, El Salvador, Nicaragua, India, Bangladesh, UK, Japan and the Philippines.
The 87 year-old Malaysian's political career spanned almost 40 years and he was Prime Minister for 22 of those years from 1981 to 2003. During his time in office, Malaysia underwent rapid modernisation and economic progress. He was a dominant political figure and won in five consecutive general elections. He remains an active political figure in his retirement.
In confirming the decision of the steering committee Professor Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, UN-Habitat Scientific Advisor said, 'This is a remarkable individual who did remarkable things for his country. Malaysia was on the way to considerable economic progress during Mahathir's time. It is recognized that he significantly influenced all other developing countries to show the way how it is possible to develop in a very rapid way in a very short time.'
The international jury Chairperson Mervat Tallawy added, ''The per capita income in Malaysia during his time increased eight times. The model of thinking to get out of problems and crisis was almost the same as that of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.'
The late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri visited Malaysia several times while he was in office. 'My husband was very impressed with the achievements of Dr. Mahathir,' said Mrs. Nazek Rafik Hariri, President of the Rafik Hariri Foundation. 'Their relationship was based on the shared interests of building confidence and economic success for their respective nations.'
Commenting on the second cycle of the Award Mrs. Hind AlHariri AlKarout, one of seven international jurors added, 'It represents for us continuity, continuity of our father's legacy in a way that is not just on the borders of his country but beyond that on the international level.'
In his memory and to preserve his vision the Hariri family established the Award jointly with the UN-Habitat through The Rafik Hariri Foundation in March 2009. It is given to individuals, organizations or institutions anywhere in the world for significant accomplishments in the areas of: Leadership, statesmanship and good governance; Construction and reconstructions of settlements and communities; Human resource development, and benevolent activities in fighting urban poverty and the implementation of the Habitat Agenda.
In September 2004 Prime Minister Rafik Hariri who held office five times was recognized with the UN-Habitat Scroll of Honor, Special Citation, the highest United Nations award granted for achievements in the field of human settlement.
The launch of the Rafik Hariri Award took place in March 2010 during the Opening Ceremony of the Fifth World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was also recognized in the category of leadership, statesmanship and good governance, especially during his time as Mayor of Istanbul in the mid-1990s when he hosted the Second UN-Conference on Human Settlements. It led to the establishment of UN-Habitat as a fully-fledged UN programme tasked with promoting adequate shelter for all.
The International Jury of the Rafik Hariri UN-Habitat Award is represented by; Mrs. Mervat Tallawy, chairwoman of National Council of Women Egypt; Mr. Erik Berg, Senior Advisor Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Norway; Mr. Kalyan Ray, former chief of Water and Sanitation UN-Habitat, India; Mrs. Hind AlHariri AlKarout, RHF Lebanon, Mr. Charles Rizk, former justice minister Lebanon, Mr. Rafic Bizri, President of the Hariri Foundation USA from Lebanon and Mrs. Hoda Tabbarah, Lebanon.
This year's winner, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad will be honored during an award ceremony in New York on September 28, 2012.