Mahathir Award For Global Peace

Address by Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Paduka Dr Limkokwing at Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC)
27 August 2013

The word ‘peace’ is in every language of every culture, every tribe, every race, every religion and every nation.

It clearly shows that the desire for peace is universal.

The yearning for peace is in every heart.

Yet we have these statistics that tell a different story.

In the 20th century more than 200 million people died in wars and conflicts. It was considered as the most brutal in the history of the world.

Every day of this century the world is becoming increasingly unsafe. 

In 2002 the World Health Organisation published a comprehensive report on global violence and health.

It gave Governments clear warnings but it did not stop the slide into greater catastrophe.In nearly 10 years after the declaration of the War on Terror, the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine have killed a least 225,000 people, mostly civilians.

The proportion of civilian deaths has increased dramatically in recent conflicts.

In World War One, 50% of the victims were civilians.

In World War Two, the proportion increased to 65%.

Today, 90% of those who died or are maimed in violent conflicts are civilians.

These are grim and tragic figures.

And are we becoming immune to the rising violence?

The horrific images of people being killed in Syria and Egypt that we now see everyday, everytime we turn on a news channel.

Every morning. Every evening. We see children and women being shot, being killed.

No one will blame you for believing that the world must have gone insane.

Can it be true that we just don’t care anymore? Because the killing goes on anyway?

Now more than a decade into the 21st century we are looking at a century that promises to be more bloody and violent than previous centuries.

The world today is not only an unsafe place to live in, it is also one that is harshly unequal and unkind to the great majority of its people.

The three richest people in the world have more wealth than the 50 poorest countries combined.

Nearly a billion people entered the 21st Century unable to read or write. In their miserable world, there is no education, only frustration.

Across the world, more than 1 billion people have no access to drinking water, 2 billion have no access to electricity and 3 billion have no access to proper sanitation.

This is a sharply divided world – a world divided by imbalances not just in wealth and power but in all things that contribute to the dignity of the human race.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The 21st century will see inventions and innovation that will take Mankind into a wholly new existence or maybe non-existence.

While we marvel at the possibility of the blind being able to see, the deaf being able to hear and an end to all diseases, there is the other side to these innovations.

Weapons that could be developed make the future seem like a horror movie. We hear of weapons so tiny that they can seep into our brains and erase a mind clean of its memory.

We will also have the ability to create biological weapons that will attack specific races based on their genetic make-up.

Laser weapons that can slice apart enemy soldiers or acoustic weapons that stun and paralyse are also on the menu in the not too distant future.

Now we are told of robots that are half human and half machine that are made to kill and destroy and there are micro robots, so tiny they are the size of sand and dust and can fly into our homes to spread viruses or spy on us.

Simply put, it is simply horrifying.

But this is the future that our children are inheriting from us.

Our youths will face challenges that we cannot begin to imagine today.

These thoughts ran through the minds of some of us here.  Today is the result of that merging of minds that has now resulted in the creation of the Mahathir Award for Global Peace.

At this point I wish to thank Tun Dr Mahathir for his enormous faith in us that he has seen fit to lend his name to the award and its campaign.

This is something he has never done before. We feel most honoured to be given this privilege.

We carry a heavy task to take the Mahathir Award for Global Peace to an outcome that will set in motion greater emphasis on peace.

By naming the award after Tun Dr Mahathir we have created the yardstick by which we will identify role models for youths.

The passion, the courage, the perseverance, the innovation and the leadership with which Tun Dr Mahathir relentlessly pursues his ideals are the very qualities we wish to celebrate in others.

I have not been to a country anywhere in the world where his name is not known, where his achievements have not inspired, and where his fight for peace and equality has not touched the hearts of many.

Over the years, his voice has become the voice of the weakest and the poorest.

He challenges mindsets that are still chained to colonialism.

He sets the tone that rallies the developing world.

He speaks to defend the defenseless and the voiceless.

He speaks to bring hope to the forgotten millions.

He speaks against war and mass destruction.

He speaks for the guns to fall silent and an end to military violence.

He speaks for a safer and kinder world.

He fights to give peace a chance.

He has become the voice of conscience in a conflict-laden, painfully divided world.

Tun Dr Mahathir has been at the forefront of opposition to war as a means of conflict resolution.

He has been one of the world’s most consistent, most outspoken and most forthright advocates of peace.

He has never wavered in his opposition to violence, inequity and injustice.

In the promotion of global peace and stability, he has devoted his entire life.

Today, we take this opportunity to show him how proud we are of him, and all that he has done to make this world a better place.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The positive outcomes of scientific research give us all a window to the magical future that is coming.

We have read books on the amazing discoveries and on both television and the Internet we learn how man can become a new generation of superbeings, ageless and disease-free.

What is lesser known are the huge amounts of money spent on how to use the same discoveries to kill and to destroy.

The reality is that 3 billion people on this planet are being robbed of salvation, robbed of a better life, robbed of an opportunity to live with dignity.

Money spent on war, on the manufacture of weapons is money that does not reach the 3 billion who need homes, clean water, clothing, medical care and education, which are all basic human rights.

From within this community of 3 billion the next generation of delinquents, terrorists and criminals will arise to start a new cycle of violence and conflict.

They will be the human capital that will fuel the next war that arms traders need to keep their profit margin in a healthy state of business.

It is time to put a stop to the killing because the next wave of violence and conflict will destroy the human race.

The Mahathir Award for Global Peace, in reality is more than a recognition of peace efforts.

It is a beginning of an education of youths. To grow in their hearts an appreciation for the diversity of the human race. To build their tolerance for cultural and religious differences. To develop their creativity in addressing social problems.

In them lies the salvation of Mankind. In their awareness of the perils that lie ahead lies the remedy for the human race.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

By recognizing His Excellency Nelson Mandela as the first recipient of the Mahathir Award for Global Peace we place our expectations and our hope for the future.

We celebrate the manner in which he has achieved the impossible and there can no greater inspiration for people than this.

Nelson Mandela exemplifies the revolution we need to produce in our hearts to remove our prejudices, our hatred, our envy, our bitterness and by doing so transform into a civilized people of one planet.

Here is a man admired by the entire world. It was his willingness to walk the road of sacrifice that distinguishes him as one of the greatest symbol of peace, tolerance, non-violence and moral integrity of our age.

Because of him, the world is a better place.

Because of him, the world is working to be a kinder place.

I count myself privileged to have worked alongside him during the most defining moments of his long struggle for dignity and equality in his own country.

I remember well the time I spent with him and other ANC leaders, including HE Jacob Zuma, from late 1993 to early 1994, when we campaigned across South Africa in the country’s first ever free election.

I remember well that whenever His Excellency Jacob Zuma turned up at the rallies, there would be more people and more energy, more singing and more dancing.

In May 1994, Nelson Mandela led the ANC to a historic election victory, ending 300 years of minority rule.

And I have Tun Dr Mahathir to thank for introducing me to Madiba and then sending me there for that incredible experience.

Campaigning in South Africa is something else!

In just five years more Madiba would reach that elusive milestone of 100 years.

Today all our thoughts are with him as we pay tribute to the world’s most iconic freedom fighter and peacemaker of our time.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With this award, we join our efforts to other peacemakers so we may help bolster and strengthen the fragile fabric of peace.

With this award, we give future generations the prospect of an era where peace prevails and Mankind is given the opportunity to live in harmony.