TIME magazine honors 'Asia's Heroes'
By Jane Rickards The China Post
November 24, 2005, 12:00 am TWN
Determined Indonesian Tsunami survivors, a luminous Chinese actress, a Thai elephant protector, Taiwan's own Cloud Gate Dance Theater founder Lin Huai-min and several other outstanding achievers last night were presented awards for being "Asia's Heroes" by TIME magazine at a gala dinner at the Grand Hyatt.
The magazine each year has a special issue entitled "Asia's Heroes" highlighting groups or individuals in Asia who have performed brave or remarkable feats to improve their societies.
The magazine this year chose Taipei as its venue to present the awards, with heroes from all over Asia rubbing shoulders with around 150 Taiwanese guests at the celebratory dinner.
Editor of TIME International Michael Elliott said the event was an opportunity to celebrate inspiring people.
"All of these people in one way or another inspire us to appreciate what the human spirit can do at its very, very best," he said.
Taiwan's Lin of Cloud Gate Dancer Theater was described by the magazine as a "synthesizing dance genius" who was trained in prestigious New York dance studios but drew on Chinese concepts such as "qi" and calligraphy to produce "dance unlike any other"
But despite this high praise, Lin remained modest.
"I really want to say Cloud Gate is team work so the honor belongs to the whole team, not only to me," he said.
Lin also said TIME's decision to grant him the award alleviated some of the isolation Taiwan felt from international society (with the majority of nations giving diplomatic recognition to China).
"A recognition from TIME magazine makes people in Taiwan feel somehow we are still connected," he said.
Also attending last night's event was Chinese actress Zhang Jingchu who impressed international audiences in "Peacock", a film that captured top awards at the Berlin Film Festival.
The magazine described her as having " a smoldering luminosity that keeps the camera longing for her even after she has exited the scene."
Zhang said at a press conference earlier in the day that she was honored to receive the award.
"As a new starting actress in Chinese cinema, it is not easy to be outstanding ...(I want to ) bring the world to China and bring China to the world," she said.
Thai animal activist Sangduen "Lek" Chailert, who runs two healing and rehabilitation centers for elephants, said before her story in TIME was published, "sometimes I felt very lonely, I felt I worked against the wall."
Japanese corporate turnaround whiz Masamoto Yashiro was proclaimed another hero for his efforts in transforming Japan's poorly-performing Long Term Credit Bank into a financial success story, creating a model for other Japanese banks to follow.
"I hope Japan will regain confidence in itself and contribute to the prosperity of Asia in business and otherwise," he said.
Indonesian Suciwati Munir, whose human rights activist husband was murdered because of what Munir describes as a political conspiracy, called on the people responsible to be punished.
"This can't be allowed to happen again," she said.
Other heroes attending the dinner included Sidney Jones, the Southeast Asia Project director of the International Crisis Group. Her organization as a whole received an award. Bernard Krisher, an American journalist turned philanthropist, was proclaimed a hero for his charitable efforts in Cambodia.
Emiel Kok and Ralph Toll also collected a hero award on behalf of their organization Help International Phi Phi, a group of foreign volunteers and Thais who helped rebuild Phi Phi island after the tsunami.
There were also a band of Indonesian women from Aceh — Cut Aisah, Neneh, Nur Azmi, Nuraida and Sulastri — who battled to rebuild their lives after losing their homes, finances and most of their families after the deadly tidal waves struck their village. In addition, two Indonesians, Heru "Jack" Kurniawan and Erwin were proclaimed heroes for rescuing a young girl from a flooding river caused by the tsunami.