Former Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja Rejects Magsaysay Award

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KK Shailaja took the decision after consulting the party’s national leadership.

Thiruvananthapuram/New Delhi:

Senior CPI(M) leader and former Kerala health minister K K Shailaja has declined to receive the Ramon Magsaysay Award as the late President of the Philippines was known for his alleged brutality against the Communists.

While Ms Shailaja told reporters in Kerala that she declined the award as she was not interested in receiving it in her individual capacity, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the award is in the name of Ramon Magsaysay who has a history of alleged brutal oppression of Communists in the Philippines.

Ms Shailaja, a Central committee member of the CPI(M), took the decision after consulting the party’s national leadership.

The former health minister said she was considered for the award for the work which was actually part of a collective effort and it was not right to receive it in her individual capacity.

“…this award is in the name of Ramon Magsaysay who has the history of brutal oppression of the communists in the Philippines. So, for all these factors together, she politely refused it saying that she will be the first politician to get it,” Mr Yechury said.

On Sunday, certain media-houses reported that Shailaja refused to accept the award after consulting with the party.

“The NGOs may not be in favour of the Communist ideology. And hence it was not right that I receive it as an individual because I was considered for something which was actually part of a collective effort. So, I decided not to accept the award. I thanked them and politely refused the award saying I was not interested in receiving it in an individual capacity,” Ms Shailaja said.

Mr Yechury, who met reporters in New Delhi, said the award was being given for the manner in which the public health issues have been managed in Kerala.

“This is a collective effort of the LDF government and the Health Department in Kerala. So, this is not any individual effort,” Yechury said.

He said the Magsaysay Award has not been given to any active politician so far and the Central committee is the highest decision-making body of the party.

Left leaders who spoke on the issue have claimed that Magsaysay was a staunch anti-Communist who oversaw the defeat of Communists (Hukbalahap, a Communist guerrilla movement formed by the farmers of Central Luzon) in the Philippines in the 1950s.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) in 1957 established the Ramon Magsaysay Awards to honour the late President of the Philippines, who died in a plane crash in March 1957. The awards were given for contributions made by citizens of the Philippines and other Asian countries in government service, public service, international understanding, journalism and literature, and community leadership.

Indians including filmmaker Satyajit Ray and cartoonist R K Laxman, former election commissioner T N Sheshan, singer M S Subbulakshmi, scientist M S Swaminathan, former Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal are among the past awardees.

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