Sao Thusandi Leadership Award

The Sao Thusandi Leadership Award for 2017 has been awarded to 24 year-old Sai Si Khur (pictured above), a leading activist from Nam Ma in Hsipaw Township, northern Shan State, who had spent the last two years campaigning with the Shan State Farmers’ Network to stop the unregulated open pit coal mining which has devastated his community. Like many others, Sai Si Khur’s farming family had suffered from the destruction of agricultural land, toxic waste dumping and pollution of water sources.  He ultimately lost his life in July 2017 as a result of tuberculosis and lung disease possibly linked to longstanding air pollution related to mining activities. This is the first occasion in which the Sao Thusandi Award has been awarded posthumously; it was accepted by Sai Si Khur’s widow and infant daughter.

Established in 2008 by Inge Sargent (Sao Thusandi), the former Mahadevi of Hsipaw, the Sao Thusandi Leadership Award honors young people from Shan State who are working towards community development, peace and democracy in Shan State, particularly those working to preserve local customs and culture. Sai Su’s tireless efforts on behalf of ethnic communities in Burma embody the very principles for which the award was established. The Award Committee would like to offer its warm congratulations to Sai Su and hope that this recognition of his work will continue to encourage others to follow in the footsteps of Sai Su and other former recipients of the Sao Thusandi Leadership Award.

The Sao Thusandi Leadership Award honors young people from Shan State who are committed to taking a leadership role in establishing a democratic, peaceful and thriving Shan State. The purpose of the Award is to encourage and support the awardees in their work to uphold local customs and culture. As they move forward, the awardees inspire others in Shan State to follow their example in pursuit of a democratic society in their homeland, which presents more opportunities for all.

US $4,000 will be given to the awardee.

Nominations are due September 15, 2018.

Click to download the PDF application form, and see below for nomination guidelines and how to apply.

Eligibility for Award
Award candidates must have demonstrated a capacity for leadership in their community. They must also have shown an appreciation for democratic processes in promoting community development projects. They must be 35 years of age or younger on December 31st of the current year, and they cannot have received this award before. They must have been born in the Shan State and have the desire to live in Shan State when that is possible.

Guidelines for nominations
Nominations must be in English. A complete nomination includes the following:

  • Completed application form, filled in by nominator. (Please note that individuals may not nominate themselves.) Application forms may be downloaded here.
  • Two letters of reference for the candidate. Letters of recommendation should highlight why the individual is being recommended for the award and how long the nominator has been aware of the individual’s contributions.

Please send the completed nomination form to

Nominations must be received by September 15, 2018

The selection of the winning candidate will be made by Inge Sargent and a panel of local advisors.

Award Presentation
The award will be presented by a representative of Inge Sargent, in a setting selected by the said representative. Publicity, if any, will be determined by the circumstances.