As the executive director of the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME), Mr Wham is well known among aid workers for his passionate and relentless pursuit of rights for migrant workers in Singapore. Mr Wham has been with the organisation since 2005.
On Saturday, the Think Centre, an independent political research initiative set up in 1999, presented its own “Human Rights Defender Award 2011” to Mr Wham in recognition of his work. The award “seeks to identify and honour individuals and organizations that strive to promote human rights practices,” the centre said.
“It is thus, a great honour for Think Centre to confer the Human Rights Defender Award 2011 to Jolovan Wham, in recognition of his contribution to the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers,” said Mr Tan Kong Soon, president of the Think Centre.
The first recipient of the centre’s award was the late opposition icon and secretary-general of the Workers’ Party, Mr JB Jeyaretnam, in 2003. The second was given to Mr Ron Chandran-Dudley, a tireless and devoted champion for the dignity of persons with disabilities in 2004.
Mr Wham is only the third recipient of the honour in the centre’s 12-year history.
“Mr Wham has been challenging the way people view migrant workers as mere economic units who are simply here to drive Singapore's economy, and to start seeing them as human beings in their own right,” Mr Tan said.
After completing his undergraduate studies in social work at the National University of Singapore, Mr Wham joined HOME and has been assisting its founder and president, Ms Bridget Tan, in spearheading and running the non-governmental organisation’s programmes and initiatives. Ms Tan herself was conferred the “2011 Hero Acting to End Modern-Day Slavery Award” from United States Secretary of State, Ms Hilary Clinton, in Washington last year.
Picture by Shawn Byron Danker.
Read Mr Wham's speech here.