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Asiaweek
 > summer special 2000
For the year 2000

GOVERNANCE
The Best Government Reformer
How Asia Is Governed
The Best Local Administrator
The Best Activist


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The Best Dealmaker
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The Best Fund Manager
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Government Reformer | How Asia Is Governed |  Local Administrator |  Activist
The Best Activist


Third World Network.
Martin Khor's dedication to Third World causes has seen him interact with both agitators and government leaders.

Martin Khor Kok Peng, 49, is unusual among activists: He is as likely to give speeches at global forums as to agitate with the protesters outside. "He is a rare three-in-one person — an activist, scholar and journalist," says Anwar Fazal, a senior regional adviser to the UNDP. It is a trait that has earned the Malaysian recognition on the international stage as director of the Penang-based Third World Network (TWN).

Khor cut his teeth with the Consumers' Association of Penang. One of CAP's first big campaigns was to help fishermen whose livelihood was threatened by industrial waste in Penang's Juru River. CAP also looked into about 5,000 complaints a year. "If we saw a pattern, we would scrutinize the law," says Khor. "If there was no relevant law or no enforcement, we'd write to the government department concerned."

In 1984, TWN was set up as a result of an international seminar hosted by CAP. "We realize we have to work at both the local and global levels," says Khor, "because so many problems start from the global level and need a global response." Such an outlook has seen him navigate through the alphabet soup of international forums: U.N., ASEAN, IMF, WTO. He was active in raising awareness of Third World issues at the WTO meeting in Seattle last year.

Anwar sees no contradiction in Khor working with both activists and government leaders. "You have to engage formal forums through their format and also link up with the energy in the streets," he says. Indeed, Khor's two-pronged approach is simply a means to one objective: the advancement of Third World interests.

— Santha Oorjitham

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