HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS
SULTAN NAZRIN MUIZZUDDIN SHAH
ROYAL PATRON AND CHAIRMAN
OF THE MERDEKA AWARD TRUST
2023 MERDEKA AWARD GRANT
FOR INTERNATIONAL ATTACHMENT
ANNOUNCEMENT AND PRESENTATION CEREMONY
DATE: FRIDAY, 25 AUGUST 2023, TIME: 3.00 PM
VENUE: MALAYSIAN PETROLEUM CLUB, KUALA LUMPUR
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Over the past few decades, the world has undergone many amazing changes and recorded many significant achievements. Our country alone has experienced transformational developments—in the economy, in our infrastructure, and in our human capital. Yet despite all the remarkable breakthroughs we have collectively made, humanity continues to face dire challenges in everything from access to basic necessities such as water, food, and even shelter; growing poverty and inequality; far too slow energy transition, and waste mismanagement – to name a few.
2. If we are to change the narrative to ensure a more sustainable future for us all, then we must address the growing concerns over social inclusion and environmental conservation, today. If we are to tackle effectively the pressing problems that we collectively face, we must seek new approaches and find new solutions.
3. One important element is to empower our youth to strengthen their efforts to help the young, the old, and the marginalised to overcome the structural and systemic obstacles they face. And it was for this purpose that the Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment was established in 2012—to provide those under the age of 35 with the opportunity to design solutions and drive change to address some of the nation’s most pressing needs.
4. The Grant is awarded every other year to highly qualified and deserving younger Malaysians to allow them to pursue projects at internationally-recognised institutions, in order to develop their own expertise and expand their networks. In turn, this will enhance their ability to contribute positively to our society. Applications are made across a number of fields, namely, education, arts, sports, community and social work, the environment, health, and science and technology.
5. The Grant opens up new and exciting pathways for its recipients for international, interdisciplinary and inter-generational work. During their attachment, Grantees are able to connect with others who have similar interests, and to work together with them to develop innovative solutions to our common challenges.
6. Past awardees include scientists working on next generation batteries—such an important element of the energy transition—on cutting-edge cancer treatments; on bone reconstruction; and even research into black holes. Other recipients have worked on sustainable finance, on poverty alleviation, and on conservation and animal protection. The Grant has enabled them all to expand their horizons and networks, thereby contributing to fruitful future collaborations and innovations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
7. What I find most fulfilling about presenting the Grant is being part of this bold and enterprising journey of our Malaysian youth. Their energy and enthusiasm to create a positive impact in the world through their work gives me confidence in the next generation of Malaysian talent. Not only are we blessed with ever-richer human capital, but it is clear that our youth are absolutely committed to taking this country forward whatever the challenges we face.
8. So we were very pleased this year to have received a record number of applications – with an increase of nearly 17 percent. This reflects the growing reach of, and interest in, the Grant. More than 160 people from all over Malaysia have put in a bid to take their research and career ambitions further through this means.
9. Across the board, and more consistently this year, applicants have expressed a strong desire to be changemakers in their chosen fields, and to thereby change the trajectory both for their own communities, and more broadly, for the future of our shared planet. This again is highly encouraging, as we must all strive together to build a sustainable future.
10. Which brings us to the main purpose of this gathering today. I am pleased to announce the five recipients of the 2023 Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment. They are:
● Masni A/P Mat Dong, Lecturer, Tunku Abdul Rahman University of Management and Technology who plans to further her work on Reimagining Inclusive Socio-Economic Development for the Orang Asli In Malaysia.
● Syaza Soraya binti Sauli, PhD Candidate, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia who is planning to expand her body of work on Empowering Environmental Sustainability Values In Preschool Children In Malaysia Through Comprehensive Nature-Based Learning Modules.
● Amaziasizamoria Jumail, Research Officer, Danau Girang Field Centre who plans to gain and share knowledge on Tropical Forest Ecology Restoration within a Global South Context.
● Dr Kong Xin Ying, Postdoctoral Fellow, Nanyang Technological University who is planning to further her work on Upcycling Plastics as a Sustainable Energy Alternative.
● Dr Ng Chuck Chuan, Assistant Professor, Xiamen University Malaysia who will further his work on Phytoremediation – A Nature-based Solution (NbS) for Soil Heavy Metals Pollution.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
11. These five individuals represent a generation of youth who are the heartbeat of our nation and the architects of our future progress. By giving them the opportunity to help reimagine a more inclusive society that leaves no-one behind, we are contributing to the dignity of all humanity.
12. As we work together to shape a world that is more compassionate, just, and sustainable, I believe our path forward as a country continues to be one of hope and purpose, strengthened by our youth, and driven by change-makers and trailblazers.