27 August 2013
Former South African president Nelson Mandela was honoured on Monday with the inaugural Lifetime Award for Global Peace from the Mahathir Global Peace Foundation.
Receiving the award on Mandela’s behalf during a ceremony at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre in Putrajaya, Malaysia, South African President Jacob Zuma said: “We are humbled as South Africans to share president Mandela with the world.
“At the same time, we are truly proud that our country, and the struggle for liberation in particular, produced such an international icon.”
Zuma, who arrived in Malaysia for an official visit on Sunday, said that the 95-year-old statesman was still “in a critical but stable condition” in hospital in Pretoria, where he was admitted on 8 June and has been receiving treatment since for a recurring lung infection.
“While wishing him good health, we also have to celebrate his legacy, and learn from it, in order to build a better world.”
Zuma added that Mandela was also “no stranger to Malaysia”, having led South Africa in cementing ties with Malaysia during his presidency, and being a personal friend of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“In a rare gesture for a foreign head of government at the time, Dr Mahathir was among the first to meet Mr Nelson Mandela at the airport in Zambia in 1990, soon after his release from prison,” Zuma said.
“In the meeting they later held at a Zambian government guest house, Dr Mahathir presented Madiba with a silver keris, the symbol of Malaysia’s constitutional monarchy system of government.”
The award, Zuma said, would further highlight the need for peace in the world, “as it has been given to a man who has demonstrated a remarkable ability for forgiveness and reconciliation, which are the building blocks for a peaceful society”.
It was this commitment to reconciliation, Zuma said, that stood at the core of the Mandela legacy. “It influenced both his efforts to build a new democracy at home and his contribution to the resolution of conflicts in the larger world.
“When others doubted whether it was still possible for old enemies to beat their swords into ploughshares, he showed us how.”