29 Jun 2010
It is the highlight of every year’s Singapore International Water Week, and one can only imagine what a ceremony for an award bearing Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s name entails.
This year, dinner guests at the awards ceremony dined large at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia Hotel and were treated to elegant performances by students from Singapore’s School of the Arts (SOTA) and a surprisingly light-hearted dialogue session with one of the world’s most respected leaders.
Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Professor Kishore Mahbubani, started the night by announcing the rules of engagement for the dialogue which drew questions from delegates of many nationalities, some asking for advice while others asked for insight.
When asked about his thoughts on the future, MM Lee said, “I think the biggest challenge is overpopulation,” adding that the education of women is key, so that “they become educated, they get jobs and they don’t want to be just producing children.”
The night’s honour though, was reserved for the awardees of the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize, China’s Yellow River Conservancy Commission (YRCC), and the inaugural Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, which went to Spain’s Bilbao City Hall. Represented by Commissioner Li Guoying and Mayor Iñaki Azkuna respectively, each awardee received an award certificate, a gold medallion and S$300,000 in prize money.
Through proper water management and innovative solutions, the YRCC has managed to improve conditions for the 100 million people who rely on Yellow River for water. With the policies YRCC has brought forth, it has also helped protect 90 million people from floods and repaired damaged wetlands in the river basin.
During the Singapore Water Lecture, Commissioner Li shared the problems the commission had faced, such as studying the river’s characteristic sediment flow and understanding its ever changing water conditions.
For Yellow River to flow unabated for over a decade, Commissioner Li said “Work on the Yellow River has been going on for thousands of years…But we have managed to save it from the brink of collapse.”
In his acceptance speech, Commissioner Li thanked the awards committee for its encouragement and affirmation of YRCC’s work.
He said, “The YRCC will take this award as a platform for a new start to continue its hard work in the management of the Yellow River, while continuing to explore the possibilities of water management and sharing its discoveries with the world.”
By Adrianna Garcia