Educated to become a
teacher, NILAWAN PINTONG chose the challenge of schooling the women and youth of her
country to become useful citizens exercising initiative in public affairs.
With a sense of this mission, she left the security of government service to help build a
magazine that would foster a greater community consciousness among Thailand's women. From
this beginning grew also a youth magazine, a news weekly and a series of radio
programsall championing a new awareness of civic needs.
From these journalistic efforts she extended the scope of her concern to creating
community organizations. She stirred printers, librarians and writers to a higher
conception of their professional role. She aroused women to realize that they could do
something about education for the young and urgent social needs; among their achievements
was a program enabling Thais in depressed areas to help themselves. For citizenship
training she organized a youth club.
A distinctive contribution has been her Ounakorn Center. It provides a friendly
headquarters and free office services for struggling organizations of students, writers
and women. And foreign visitors find there a welcome entrée to Thai intellectual and
Among Khun NILAWAN's most consequential achievements has been her quiet shepherding of
such new civic ventures to maturity. Objective and fearless in voicing her views, she has
been withal a diplomat. Typically serving as secretary, always without pay, she has saved
many groups from disastrous pitfalls. She shuns publicity, is seldom photographed, and,
yet, her competence, dependability and sound judgment are recognized by persons from all
walks of life who seek her advice.
Lacking personal wealth with which to finance such work, she instead has given unsparingly
of her time and energy. So that she could give more attention when needed, she has
relinquished her home and now lives in a small room next to her office. Such selflessness
has nurtured in others a willingness to serve.
In electing NILAWAN PINTONG to receive the 1961 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service,
the Board of Trustees recognizes her volunteer participation and leadership in developing
constructive civic enterprises that have given women a new and creative role in Thailand.