Tang laureate donates grant to set up South African trust

  • Albie Sachs, 2014 Tang Prize laureate in Rule of Law
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Johannesburg, July 25 (CNA) Former South African judge Albie Sachs, who won the first Tang Prize in the Rule of Law last year, has donated his research grant to establish a trust aimed at chronicling his country's constitutional reform process.

The Albie Sachs Trust for Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law was launched with the donation of NT$10 million (US$321 million) from Sachs, which was the research grant awarded to him by the Tang Prize Foundation. The Tang Prize is Taiwan's equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

The goal of the trust is to compile documents about the Constitution of South Africa to document the country's constitutional process for people of the next generation.

On behalf of the Tang Prize Foundation, its CEO Chern Jenn-chuan (陳振川), signed a memorandum of agreement with the Albie Sachs' trust on the use of the research grant, July 22 in South Africa.

At the signing, Sachs said there were many moving stories behind the establishment of the Constitution that are worth recording and preserving so that future generations will understand the spirit of the Constitution.

For example, the conversion of former prison into the country's constitutional court was a significant and profound move, the 80-year-old constitutionalist said.

Sachs said he was pleased to have the budget to document the developments over the years through texts and other formats.

On his part, Chern said the foundation welcomed the launch of the trust, which also represented a milestone in promoting the Tang Prize.

He said he was pleased to have signed the memorandum of agreement that will strengthen long-term cooperation between the two entities.

Taiwan's representative to South Africa John Chen (陳忠), who was also at the signing ceremony, said he expected bilateral cultural and academic exchanges to continue.

Apart from Sachs, the other members of the trust are Kate O'Regan, former justice of the Constitutional Court; Judge Vincent Saldanha; lawyer Nazreen Bawa; and Sachs' wife Vanessa September, all of whom were at the ceremony.

The trust will focus on two major aspects of South Africa's constitutional reform --the adoption of the new Constitution and the establishment of the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court, the country's most important institution, represents the core values of the Constitution, such as dignity, respect and anti-racism.

Sachs told CNA he was honored to participate in the two projects and would make good use of the research grant awarded by the foundation.

O'Regan said she had worked with Sachs for 15 years at the Constitutional Court and they have maintained a close relationship. She said she was happy to continue to work alongside with Sachs and to see the trust fund used to achieve his goals.

Meanwhile, Saldanha expressed gratitude to the Tang Prize Foundation and Taiwan for making the trust possible.

Bawa also said it was exciting to set up the trust and work with the other members.

Bawa expressed the hope that future generations will understand the value of their work and the assistance made possible by the foundation.

Sachs' wife, who chairs the trust, said the establishment of the trust will help their eight-year-old son Oliver to gain an understanding of the development of South Africa.

Children his age need to learn the stories of figures such as Sachs and Nelson Mandela, September said. The trust will contribute to the education of children in the country, she added.

In launching the two projects, Sachs has invited author Andre Odendaal to write about the process of drawing up the Constitution, which is expected to take him three years to complete.

The biennial Tang Prize was established in 2012 by Taiwanese entrepreneur Samuel Yin (尹衍樑) to honor top researchers and leaders in four fields -- sustainable development, biopharmaceutical science, sinology and rule of law. The first award ceremony was held in Taipei last September.

(By Hsu Mei-yu and Elaine Hou)