FOUNDED on Aug 27, 2007 to mark the celebration of Malaysia‘s 50th anniversary of its independence, the Merdeka Award was established by Petronas, ExxonMobil and Shell to recognise and reward individuals or groups who have made outstanding and lasting contributions to the nation and the people of Malaysia in their respective fields.
There are five award categories: Education and Community; Environment; Health, Science and Technology; Outstanding Scholastic Achievement; and Outstanding Contribution to the People of Malaysia (open only to non-Malaysians).
Named to capture and commemorate the Spirit of Merdeka as demonstrated by the nation‘s forefathers, the Merdeka Award is about foresight, discipline, preservation and self-sacrifice in achieving a goal.
Selection of recipients is made through a stringent and rigorous process, conducted first by the Merdeka Award‘s five nomination committees followed by the selection committee. The recipients are selected by the Board of Trustees comprising two representatives each from ExxonMobil and Shell, as well as two independent members. Each recipient receives a certificate, a trophy and RM500,000.
The other recipients in addition to Tan Sri Arshad Ayub are:
Raja Tan Sri Datuk Sri Utama Muhammad Alias Raja Muhammad Ali (Education and Community Category — Joint Recipient) for his contribution to rural development and rural reform through organising successful land settlement projects (FELDA) for the landless rural population in Malaysia.
He helmed FELDA for more than three decades, crystalising the vision of then Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein ”to provide land for the landless and jobs for the jobless“. FELDA has since been recognised as a key agency in the effort to eradicate rural poverty in Malaysia and its model has been applied in countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia and parts of Africa.
Dr Lim Boo Liat (Environment Category) for his contribution to the conservation of Malaysia‘s biological diversity through the study, understanding and control of vector-borne diseases and the relationship between diseases and the environment , and for advocating the protection of our natural heritage.
A pioneer in the field of zoology in Malaysia, Dr Lim is regarded as a leading authority in the research and conservation of Malaysia‘s biological diversity through his six decades of scientific research and environmental advocacy. He made significant contributions to the publication of the Red List of Mammals of Peninsular Malaysia, considered the first national Red List carried out by any country in the world.
Tan Sri Dr Yahya Awang (Health, Science and Technology Category) for his contribution to the development of clinical research and cardiac surgery in Malaysia and for his instrumental role in the establishment of the National Heart Institute.
Dr Yahya played a pioneering role in the development of cardiac surgery in the country at a time when this area of study was at its infancy and many patients were in dire need of treatment. He successfully performed the first heart transplant in Malaysia.
Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Lam Sai Kit (Outstanding Scholastic Achievement Category) for his contribution to scholarly research and development in medical virology and emerging infectious diseases including dengue.
Dr Lam was part of the 15-member team from University of Malaya‘s Faculty of Medicine that isolated the Nipah virus as a case of viral encephalitis among pig farmers in the country, helping to contain the outbreak. The Nipah Virus Encephalitis Investigation Team was conferred the Merdeka Award in 2008.
Through other initiatives such as the Merdeka Award Roundtables and the Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment, the Merdeka Award aims to promote thought leadership and innovation, foster a culture of excellence and encourage a worldview, thereby enhancing Malaysia‘s standing as a dynamic, competitive 21st century global player in all key sectors, from science and technology to the arts.
Details at www.merdekaaward.my
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