At the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits, ASEAN announced the awarding of ASEAN Prize 2021 to Mekong Institute for its contributions in promoting ASEAN awareness and strengthening regional cooperation towards sustainable development.
Founded in 1996 and based in Khon Kaen, Thailand, Mekong Institute’s commitment in promoting
ASEAN Community building has been continuously articulated through a range of capacity
development programmes, research studies, publications, and multi-institutional engagements.
The intergovernmental organisation has become a leading light in advancing regional cooperation and
integration, particularly in responding to priority needs of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). It
implements cross-sectoral projects in agricultural development and commercialisation, trade and
investment facilitation, and sustainable energy and environment, thereby reflecting the immense
support to the core tenets of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and the United Nations Sustainable
Development Goals (UN SDG) 2030 vision.
The role of ASEAN Prize in promoting public awareness on the core values and principles of ASEAN
based on the ASEAN Charter was recognised by the ASEAN Leaders at the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summit,
chaired by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam
on 26 October 2021.
In the Chairman’s Statement issued, the Leaders congratulated the Mekong Institute, a research institute
and community development centre based in Khon Kaen, Thailand, as recipient of the ASEAN Prize 2021,
recognising its work in promoting a prosperous and harmonious sub-regional development, and
contribution to a wider regional cooperation and integration, particularly in agricultural development
In his congratulatory remarks, Secretary-General of ASEAN Dato Lim Jock Hoi acknowledged the
Mekong Institute’s aspiration in fostering sustainable development and how they have created a pivotal
strength and driving force for regional economic growth, especially for mainland ASEAN.
“Their key role in community development and capacity building, publication as well as research and
training programmes have helped bridge the gap in the region, accelerating equitable growth towards
an inclusive, cohesive and prosperous ASEAN Community,” said Dato Lim. “ASEAN appreciates Mekong Institute’s 25 years of dedication towards realising this objective and hopes the Prize will encourage and
support their work going forward,” he concluded.
Suriyan Vichitlekarn, Mekong Institute Executive Director, stated that the Prize was received with great
honor on behalf of those who have tirelessly advanced GMS development and cooperation for a
stronger ASEAN. He added that the recognition strengthens Mekong Institute’s resolve to work even
harder in empowering people, bridging partnerships, and advocating positive change, particularly
during these uncertain times.
“Mekong Institute remains a steadfast partner in helping people emerge safely from the pandemic, so
they may thrive in the new normal, where new levels of growth, trust, well-being, and a deeper sense of
belonging will endure for many years to come,” he said.
The ASEAN Prize is an annual regional premier award, administered by the ASEAN Secretariat, honouring
individuals or organisations based in ASEAN that have demonstrated outstanding work with significant
contribution to community building efforts. The recipient will receive a trophy and a cash prize of
US$20,000 sponsored by Temasek Foundation of Singapore and Yayasan Hasanah of Malaysia.
In congratulating Mekong Institute on being awarded the ASEAN Prize 2021, Benedict Cheong, Chief
Executive of Temasek Foundation International, said “Mekong Institute joins a list of distinguished
recipients who have been acknowledged for their exemplary contributions to the ASEAN Community.
Temasek Foundation is honoured to support the ASEAN Prize. We applaud all Prize recipients, including
Mekong Institute, for their commendable efforts and work to connect our peoples, achieve impact and
realise our collective aspirations for a better ASEAN.”
Shahira Ahmed Bazari, Managing Director of Yayasan Hasanah said “Our warmest congratulations to
Mekong Institute. We are very pleased to support the ASEAN Prize and acknowledge key players in the
ecosystem that are making a great difference like Mekong Institute, whose many knowledge-sharing
efforts include research related to best practices of COVID-19 management, among others. Through the
ASEAN Prize, we are humbled to be part of recognising and empowering capacity-building efforts in
the region and beyond.”
Following COVID-19 safety protocols, the 2021’s awarding presentation will be conferred separately.
2021 marks the fourth edition of ASEAN Prize. In 2018, Erlinda Uy Koe, a Filipino autism advocate,
received the inaugural ASEAN Prize for her contributions to foster an inclusive ASEAN Community. In
2019, Malaysian humanitarian leader Dr. Jemilah Mahmood was selected as the ASEAN Prize recipient
in recognition of her dedication in providing emergency needs and humanitarian response to the
marginalised and affected population in the region. Last year, the ASEAN Studies Centre of ISEAS –
Yusof Ishak Institute, a Singapore-based regional research centre, was awarded the ASEAN Prize for
their long-standing contributions in promoting ASEAN awareness through academic outreach and
engagement with stakeholders.