Hard-pressed workers at the crowded office of human rights group Tenaganita, or Women Power, usually cheer up when police and other authorities visit to harass them. For them official harassment is a compliment, a sign their work to protect migrant workers against abuse and exploitation is hurting officials and helping to change attitudes. Yesterday, there were cheers for a different reason - Tenaganita founder and director Irene Fernandez had won the 2005 Right Livelihood Award. It is also referred to as the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize, honouring pioneers of 'justice, fair trade and cultural renewal'. 'The recognition will bring focus on the plight of hundreds and thousands of migrant workers who suffer constant abuse, harassment and exploitation,' Ms Fernandez said yesterday. 'The award will spur us to work harder,' said Ms Fernandez, who founded Tenaganita in 1991. Ms Fernandez has a three-decade history as a grass-roots campaigner, first as a Christian worker, later as a feminist and human-rights advocate and more recently as an opposition politician in Malayasia's parliament. She is a senior member of opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim's National Justice Party. Mr Anwar and Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara are her heroes. A report she published in 1995 detailing horrific living conditions and the beatings and harassment meted out to migrant workers at migrant camps landed her in trouble. Ms Fernandez was charged with maliciously publishing false news and sentenced in 2003 to one year in jail. She is appealing. Malaysia's government-controlled media maligns her and Tenaganita as 'traitor and anti-national' but to the many migrant workers whose cause she untiringly champions, she is a hero. She shares the two million Swedish kronor ($2 million) with Canadian free-trade defenders Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke and activists from Mexico and Botswana. There were 77 candidates from 39 countries on the confidential list of nominations this year. The award, established in 1980, was announced in Stockholm on Thursday by its founder, Baron Jacob von Uexkull, a former member of the European parliament. Baron von Uexkull said Ms Fernandez was honoured for her 'outstanding and courageous work to stop violence against women, to stop abuses of migrants and poor workers in Malaysia'. He said award winners did not just offer 'a hope and inspiration but actual practical support and solutions'. The prizes will be awarded at the Swedish parliament on December 9.