Prestigious US ‘Democracy Award’ for Cynthia Gabriel of C4

Cynthia-GabrielPETALING JAYA: Anti-corruption activist Cynthia Gabriel has seen her efforts recognised by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which is based in Washington DC, the United States.

The NED will be presenting her with its 2017 Democracy Award on Wednesday, for her “courageous efforts in battling the scourge of official corruption”.

Gabriel, who is Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) executive director, left for the US yesterday to attend the award ceremony to be held at Capitol Hill.

According to the NED website she will be one of five recipients this year. The other five being Khalil Parsa (Afghanistan), Rafael Marques de Morais (Angola), Claudia Escobar (Guatemala) and Denys Bihus (Ukraine).

Malaysiakini reported that Gabriel was surprised over her selection for the award but was honoured nonetheless over the recognition for her efforts.

“The Democracy Award is a tremendous boost and recognition for C4 and the Malaysian civil society’s contributions to fight corruption and build a democratic society.

“This is made more special at this juncture when the spaces we are working in seem to be dramatically closing in on us, and the environments in which we work have become more hostile,” she was quoted as saying, before her flight to the US.

Gabriel added that the award also recognises the sacrifices of whistleblowers and human rights defenders, whose roles are key to fighting impunity, abuse of power and the scourge of corruption.

C4 received a US$50,000 (RM213,000) grant from NED last year for a project called “Combating Corruption and Promoting Accountability”, according to the NED website.

“The grantee will conduct a multifaceted project designed to encourage public participation in efforts to combat corruption.

The project will include advocacy focused on strengthening the independence of public institutions; training workshops for youth on various aspects of corruption; promoting the use of online tools to build public participation in promoting transparency; and education around the Auditor-General’s reports on the national budget,” the NED website stated on the details of the project.

Gabriel founded C4 in 2014 with other activists with the aim of exposing corrupt officials.

Prior to C4, Gabriel was with national human rights organisation, Suaram. She has also served as vice-president of the Paris-based global advocacy group, International Federation for Human Rights from 2004 to 2009.

The current and former Speaker of the House of Representatives – Republican Paul Ryan and Democrat Nancy Pelosi, respectively – are expected to say a few words at the award ceremony, according to the NED website.

Gabriel will also be joining her fellow honourees in attending another event called “Counting the Cost: The impact of corruption on democratic growth and stability,” on the same day, at NED’s Washington DC office, where US Senator Ben Cardin is confirmed as a keynote speaker.