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    Aug 31, 2016

    UN chief Ban gets NUS' highest honour

    UNITED Nations (UN) chief Ban Ki Moon received the highest honour from the National University of Singapore (NUS) yesterday in recognition of his humanitarian accomplishments and work in sustainable development, human rights, global peace and security.

    The 72-year-old was given an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from NUS at a ceremony at the Istana.

    It was presided over by President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who is also NUS chancellor.

    Mr Ban, a South Korean, is the UN's eighth secretary-general and the second Asian to take the post.

    He took office in 2007 and was re-elected in 2011 for a second five-year term, which ends in December.

    He has advocated for climate action and women's rights, and strengthened peacekeeping operations, improved humanitarian response and revitalised disarmament efforts.

    In his remarks, Mr Ban said he has been calling for "stronger solidarity among nations".

    He recalled how, during the Korean War as a six-year-old, he and his family survived on food and medicine from Unicef and how he, along with others, studied with textbooks provided by Unesco.

    "The UN flag was our beacon," he said. "I have sought to keep that light shining so that others may find their way out of despair, and so that all people can enjoy a brighter future."

    Acknowledging that the world is in a difficult time, he said: "People worry about the next extreme storm, the next financial shock or the next outbreak of deadly disease.

    "No country is immune from the threat of violent extremism. Singapore itself, stable and prosperous, has had to take steps recently to heighten its defences."

    Professor Kishore Mahbubani, who read the citation for Mr Ban, said one of his key achievements has been to "secure a strong global consensus to act together to save the world from global warming".

    Prof Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, also noted Mr Ban's contributions to gender equality through pushing for the creation of UN Women as a separate agency in 2011, and efforts to address violence against women.

    "It is no secret that the job of UN Secretary-General is one of the most difficult and impossible jobs in the world," he said.

    "Mr Ban will be remembered for dealing with so many global crises with remarkable calm and equanimity."