Every two years, the Tang Prize awards the most outstanding individuals in the four fields of Sustainable Development, Biopharmaceutical Science, Sinology, and Rule of Law. These individuals receive the Tang Prize Medal and Diploma, and a cash prize of NT$40 million (approx. US$1.33 million). But one thing that sets the Tang Prize apart from other academic awards is that the prize money comes with an additional NT$10 million (approx. US$330,000) grant, which is apportioned according to a proposal provided by the laureates. The grant may be divided among any institutions or individuals of the laureate’s choosing, and is meant to improve the research, education, and scholarship of the field in which the laureate has been awarded.
Grant proposals from the inaugural (2014) laureates have already begun to take shape. For the proposal from inaugural laureate in Rule of Law Albie Sachs, a former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, this included the founding of a trust that will manage the minutiae of his projects. The Albie Sachs Trust for Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law, founded this July, will oversee the chronicling and telling of two stories, namely of the Constitution and the Constitutional Court of South Africa. The information will be made available to the world community, giving the generations to come an example in transitional law and democratic movements.
Tang Prize CEO Jenn-Chuan Chern traveled to South Africa this week to personally sign a memorandum of agreement with the Trust on July 22 at Cape Town’s Vineyard Hotel. Attendees included the Tang Prize CEO and staff, former Justices Kate O’Regan and Vincent Saldanha of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Sachs’ wife and fellow Trustee architect Vanessa September, Ambassador of the Taipei Liaison Office in the Republic of South Africa John Chen, and representatives from ministries and offices in South Africa. Also present at the signing was The Founders: The Origins of the African National Congress and the Struggle for Democracy author André Odendaal.
In the signing dinner hosted by Vanessa September, CEO Chern expressed his confidence in the leadership and directives of the trust, saying, “with Albie and the Trustees at the head of this ship, the Trust will make a meaningful and lasting contribution to the rule of law, to your country, and to the world.”
Ambassador Chen, who also delivered a few words at the event, said that he was happy that the Trust and the Tang Prize have given Taiwan a part to play in recording the history of South Africa’s development from entrenched discrimination to entrenched rule of law.
Founder and namesake of the Trust Albie Sachs had many words of praise for the Tang Prize and its design. He said that few, if any, prizes dedicate a portion of the award money to research and development in the award categories and thereby ensure that the work of the recipient does not end at the award ceremony, but lives on through the laureate to the next generation of scholars. The first of Sachs’ projects is to chronicle the Constitution of South Africa, a story which includes South Africa’s democratic transition. Few know that in reality the constitution was born through a concentrated effort of discussion and accommodation, one characterized by the participation of the people whom it was meant to protect. Considering the historical and political importance of their contribution to the constitution, their opinions and stories are valuable to the development of rule of law. The second project for the Trust is a natural consequence of the first—for a constitution to survive in use there must be a court to protect it. Thus the chronicling of the story of the Constitutional Court of South Africa is the second grant project under the direction of the Trust. From its architectural design and the art that hangs on its hallowed walls to its functioning as a body of government, its story will serve to evoke the memory of South Africa’s split past while celebrating human dignity, human rights, and the rule of law.
The sheer mass of data to be compiled for these two projects is daunting, which compelled Sachs to found a separate entity that would bear the responsibility for allocating the grant funds and ensuring that the two projects would come to completion. Founding the Trust also had the advantage of spanning individuals and generations, making it a both a communal organization and a legacy for next generation to carry on. During his address, Sachs thanked the Tang Prize Foundation for its vision and assistance in giving the impetus needed to begin an important project like this.
It is through cooperative efforts like the Albie Sachs Trust for the Rule of Law and Constitutionalism that the Tang Prize hopes to bring the fruits of the rule of law, and along with it, the spirit that characterizes the prize, to the world community.