From ‘NYC gets Lee Kuan Yew Prize’, 22 March 2012, article in Today.
New York City has been awarded the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize this year, after beating more than 60 nominations from all over the world.
The prize was awarded yesterday to the Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg, and the city’s Departments of Transportation, Recreation, and City Planning and Parks for the city’s transformation after the devastating Sept 11 attacks over a decade ago.
The biennial award goes to cities and their administrative departments for outstanding contributions towards creating vibrant, liveable and sustainable urban communities.
NYC receiving an award named after LKY is like giving an amputee survivor nail clippers. One should take nothing away, of course, from NYC as a role model city, nor should we question how the prize came to be named in honour of a man who did put Singapore on the World map, so to speak. But the reason why this prize strikes me as ironic, awkward even, is that a couple of years back, the NY times had to pay damages to LKY and his son for a libelous article titled ‘Asian dynasties’. In 2002, the late William Safire wrote a piece in the NYT about a BLOOMBERG columnist commenting on Ho Ching’s rise, an article which was deleted from the website, following which the news service promptly issuing an apology for ‘acting maliciously’.
Today, the man behind the very news service with special interest in Lee affairs receives a cash prize (worth US $218,000) named after the very same Lee New York writers, Safire included, have been targetting all along. It would be interesting to know how New Yorkers themselves respond to this award, especially this Times Square guy, and it’s likely that any American familiar with the old man would be wondering what god-given right this Lilliputian country with Gulliver balls has in issuing awards on sustainability when we have difficulty even winning one ourselves, especially when we have dead fish appearing by the thousands out of nowhere, while recently named the worst carbon offender per capita in the Asia-Pacific. Hell, it’s like a chimney sweeper dishing out a Cleanest House award.
But here’s the real reason why Singapore thinks an award in her name is justified, circa 2009: Her ‘50 years of experience in sustainable development, and successes in public housing and electronic road pricing’. If Michael Bloomberg were to come down and see for himself how people are falling off overcrowded MRT escalators, he’d probably think twice about displaying LKY’s World City Prize on the top shelf and deem it more worthy as door-stopper instead. At best, it would probably make up for the losses suffered by the NY press for shooting their mouths off.
- LKY award for All-Round Excellence
- LKY Scholarships
- LKY National Education award
- LKY Award (Maths, Science graduates)
- LKY Water Prize
- LKY Exchange Fellowship
- LKY Business Plan Competition prize
- LKY Distinguished Visitor
- Prime Minister’s Book Prize