This week Chinese billionaire Lui Che Woo announced a triumvirate of winners of his inaugural annual Prize for Civilisation at a star-studded Hong Kong gala dinner.
Each of the three awardees was given HK$20 million (US$2.56 million) in cash to support work in sustainability, humanity and welfare. Lui told Billionaire in an interview earlier this year: “When I came up with this prize I speculated on how we can emphasise more new terms such as ‘positive energy’, and ways how people can learn to adjust their attitude or make others feel comfortable.”
The Prize for Positive Energy went to former US President James Earl ‘Jimmy’ Carter Jr, for his work through The Carter Center. This was established in 1982 and is an NGO that has “contributed significantly to the promotion of positive life attitude and enhancement of positive energy in the world”, according to Lui. The Carter Center has almost eradicated Guinea worm disease and is working to eliminate river blindness, malaria, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, and schistosomiasis; and provide better care for mental illnesses. The US NGO has been at the forefront of the protection of human rights; promotion of democracy; mediation, resolution and prevention of conflicts; promotion of gender and racial equality; and the support of free and fair elections through impartial monitoring all over the world.
Carter, who is in his 90s and has recently recovered from cancer, sent his son Chip to collect the award, and said in a speech via video: “First of all, I am very honoured to be considered by this wonderful benevolent man. And second, it’s a pleasure and honour to be associated with others who have been given the same prize. This gift will make it possible for The Carter Center to expand its own programs considerably.”
Meanwhile, the Prize for Sustainability was awarded to Chinese food scientist Prof Yuan Longping, for his work in developing high-yielding hybrid rice, which has helped the security of the world food supply.
Médecins Sans Frontières was awarded the Prize for the Welfare Betterment category, for its contributions to the treatment and control of the cholera outbreak in Haiti in 2010 and the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014.
Lui, who started out his career selling peanuts as a teenager from a street stall in Hong Kong, commented: “The inaugural laureates come from different countries, different backgrounds, comprise individuals and organisations, reflecting the international, diversified and extensive nature of the Lui Che Woo Prize. I believe that harmony is of prime importance, and represents the best way to reduce the incidence of world conflicts. I sincerely hope that the Lui Che Woo Prize, as a seed of truth, goodness and beauty, will grow across the land and add a little colour to our world.”
Next year’s three prize categories are: Climate Change, Poverty, and Harmony among diverse groups.
Watch Billionaire’s video interview with Lui here.