SINGAPORE, 13 November 2018 – Honouring exemplary contributions to the cause of an inclusive ASEAN community, ASEAN bestowed the inaugural ASEAN Prize to Ms. Erlinda Uy Koe, a dedicated community leader from the Philippines.  Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Secretary-General (SG) of ASEAN, Dato Lim Jock Hoi, were on hand to present the Prize at the opening ceremony of the 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore today.

The ASEAN Prize, administered by the ASEAN Secretariat, aims to recognise inspiring achievements and contributions of an individual or organisation that foster the ASEAN identity, promote the ASEAN spirit, and champion the ASEAN way.  In addition to a trophy, the recipient of the ASEAN Prize would also receive a cash prize of US$20,000. The sponsors for the ASEAN Prize 2018 are Temasek Foundation Connects of Singapore, the Ayala Corporation of the Philippines and Yayasan Hasanah of Malaysia.

Ms. Koe is the Chair Emeritus of Autism Society Philippines (ASP). Under her leadership, the ASP with 96 chapters nation-wide, has become one of the most vibrant disability organisations in the Philippines.

At the regional level, Ms. Koe served as Chair of the ASEAN Autism Network (AAN), comprising autism family support organisations from ASEAN Member States. The AAN is a platform for member states to cooperate and unite in developing non-discriminatory programmes to support persons living with autism and their families.

Ms. Koe’s efforts have inspired autism awareness beyond the Philippines. The ASP’s “Angels Walk for Autism 2018,” gathered over 24,000 participants, with thousands more converging in simultaneous walks in ten cities. This inspired other members of AAN to hold their own Autism Walks in their respective capitals.

Ms. Koe was selected by Panel of Judges comprising ASEAN SG Lim Jock Hoi, and former Secretaries-General Tan Sri Ajit Singh, Ong Keng Yong, and Le Luong Minh.

Upon conferment of the award, Ms. Koe said that “the profound honour of receiving the inaugural ASEAN Prize was a welcome blessing. In the spirit of servant-leadership, I share this recognition with the 13,000 fellow parents and family members who comprise the ASP and with countless other advocates from the ASEAN AAN.  These angels labour to engineer institutional mechanism to improve the lives of persons with autism and their families.”

“I am thankful for the momentum this recognition will bring in taking our advocacy to the regional stage. Persons with autism need acceptance, accommodation and appreciation — and we hope to find more receptive minds and hearts among our policymakers to build a genuinely autism-friendly global society,” she added.

ASEAN SG Dato Lim said, “Ms. Koe’s work and dedication to improve the lives of autistic adults and children reflect the spirit that is deeply rooted in an ASEAN Community that engages and benefits the people. We look forward to her continued efforts in contributing towards an inclusive, resilient, people-oriented, people-centred ASEAN.”

Ms. Koe has also taken her advocacy to international arena. Her engagements have sparked discussions on project collaborations with China and Korea. She has also served the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific’s Working Group of the Asia Pacific Decade for Persons with Disabilities for 2018-2022.

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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established on 8 August 1967. The Member States of the Association are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. On 31 December 2015, the ASEAN Community was formally established. The ASEAN Secretariat is based in Jakarta.

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Temasek Foundation Connects is a Singapore-based non-profit philanthropic organisation that funds and supports programmes, which seek to build bridges and partnerships, and promote dialogue and mutual understanding among leaders across our diverse communities and markets in the region and beyond. Established in 2016, it aims to foster cooperation and growth in a globalised and interconnected world of opportunities.

Ayala

Ayala Corporation is one of the largest and most diversified business groups in the Philippines, with business interests in real estate, banking, telecommunications, water, power, industrial technologies, infrastructure, healthcare, and education. Its social commitment arm, Ayala Foundation, has programs that focus on education, youth leadership, sustainable livelihood, and the promotion of arts and culture. With headquarters in Makati City and operations mainly in the Philippines, it continues to grow its regional and global footprint, serving millions of customers across all market segments.

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Yayasan Hasanah (“Hasanah”) is the impact based foundation of Khazanah Nasional Berhad (“Khazanah”), the strategic investment fund of the Government of Malaysia. Hasanah was set up as an independent entity on 01 July 2015, building on nine years of Corporate Responsibility (CR) efforts previously driven by Khazanah. As a grant-giving organization, Hasanah goes beyond dollars and cents to facilitate an ecosystem of transformation, working in collaboration with multiple stakeholders, infusing a spirit of advocacy and building capacity in five key focus areas: Education; Community Development; Environment; Arts, Heritage and Culture; and Knowledge. Collectively and collaboratively, Hasanah hopes to shift the needle of social and community reform for Malaysians, towards a better Malaysia.