Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim.
Assalammualikum warahmatulah hibawarakatuh
Each year, the Merdeka Award is conferred on individuals and organisations whose excellent work and achievements make an outstanding impact on the nation and its people.
Awards are conferred in five categories :
- Education and Community
- Health, Science and Technology
- Outstanding Scholastic Achievement
- (and) Outstanding Contribution to the People of Malaysia
The first four categories are opened to Malaysians while the fifth is reserved for a non-Malaysian individual or organisation.
Each recipient will receive a trophy, a work a of art by Malaysian artist Latiff Mohidin and a cash award of RM500,000.
The search, nomination and selection of Merdeka Award recipients, which began in January this year, were extensive and rigorous. In the final round of selection only the most outstanding achievements and contributions are recognised.
Since it was established in 2007, 22 individuals and two organisations have received the Merdeka Award.
The Merdeka Award Board of Trustees has selected six exceptional individuals as the Merdeka Award recipients for 2014.
They are as follows:
In the Education and Community category, the recipient is Datuk Mohd Nor Khalid (LAT), for outstanding contribution to the promotion and pluralism of Malaysia’s cultural identity through the use of cartoons and for the promotion of understanding and respect among Malaysia’s diverse ethnic communities.
What is remarkable about LAT is that he has reached out to many Malaysians using a popular, accessible and humour-laden medium of communication, cartoons. Initially, through his newspaper cartoon column, and later through his book publications, animation, theatre and much more.
The recipient in the Environment category is Mohd Khan Momin Khan, for outstanding contribution to wildlife research and conservation.
Mohd Khan has contributed significantly to the efforts at conserving the various species of wildlife in Peninsular Malaysia and their habitats and has achieved significant success in managing the human-wildlife conflict. His continuous efforts in wildlife conservation have ensured the protection of numerous species in their original habitat.
The recipient in the Health, Science and Technology category is Datuk Dr Choo Yuen May, for her outstanding contribution in the development of novel, efficient and green processes for the palm-based industry through research and commercialisation of various technologies.
Datuk Choo is an international award-winning scientist and inventor with 60 patents, author of numerous scholarly articles, and a leader in the field of oil palm as a source of renewable energy. She is recognised globally for her pioneering work in the field of palm biodiesel.
In the Outstanding Scholastic Achievement category we have two recipients this year:
Professor Dr Abdul Latif Ahmad, for outstanding contribution to the scholarly research and development of technologies in the areas of polymer science, wastewater treatment and membrane separation technology.
Professor Abdul Latif is widely regarded as an authority in the study of the environment with special emphasis on wastewater treatment and membrane technology. His expertise is evident through a body of work spanning over two decades which saw extensive and in-depth research on and application of membrane technology in the treatment of waste water from industrial sources such as from palm oil mills, pesticides, dye, and the textile industry. He is currently a Professor at the School of Chemical Engineering, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).
The joint recipient in this category is Professor Dr Ahmad Fauzi Ismail, for outstanding contribution to scholarly research and the commercialisation of membrane technology for both gas separation, and water and wastewater treatment.
Professor Ahmad Fauzi is the Dean of Research for Materials and Manufacturing Research Alliance, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM). In 2004, the Cambridge Biographical Centre in the United Kingdom listed him as one of 2000 Outstanding scientists of the 21th Century. He is the Founder and Director of Advanced Membrane Technology Research Center (AMTEC), the first of its kind in Malaysia
The recipient in the category of Outstanding Contribution to the People of Malaysia is the Earl of Cranbrook, for his outstanding contribution in pioneering research and conservation of Malaysia’s forest biodiversity and the ecology and biology of Malaysian mammals and birds, and for advocating environmental conservation.
The 5th Earl of Cranbrook is a specialist in the biology and management of cave swiftlets, the biology of living mammals and zoo archaeology of the region. He has contributed immensely to raising awareness of conservation issues in Malaysia and the region. His body of work has added to our understanding of the ecology and biology of Malaysian mammals and birds.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Each year, the Merdeka Award is supported by signature initiatives, one of which is the Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment, a short-term grant designed to make it possible for qualified Malaysians between the ages of 22 and 35 to engage in collaborative projects or programmes at selected, internationally-recognised host institutions.
The Grant, launched in 2012, creates the opportunity for recipients to establish contact and working relationships with other experts in their fields, share knowledge, and upon their return, use these relationships and expertise to build on the body of work in his or her area of research.
Two Grants are offered annually to successful candidates in select disciplines – Education and Community, Environment as well as Health, Science and Technology, mirroring the categories in which the Merdeka Award itself is accorded.
The two inaugural Grant recipients in 2013 Assistant Professor Dr Abhimanyu Veerakumarasivam, and Dr Natrah Fatin Mohd Ikhsan, have recently returned from their respective attachments abroad.
As part of his attachment Dr Abhimanyu presented his research findings at the world’s biggest cancer research conference, the 105th American Association of Cancer Research Annual Scientific Meeting 2014 in San Diego, California. He has also completed his attachment as a visiting scientist at the Institute of Genetic Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Maryland, USA, where he participated in research on the identification of molecular markers for the diagnosis, prognosis and therapy of bladder cancer.
Dr Natrah attended a workshop in marine microbial ecology at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science in Australia and continued her attachment at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego,USA, where she worked on marine microbial ecology and coral reefs.
After an extensive selection process, the Merdeka Award Trust has selected two individuals as recipients of the Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment for 2014.
Dr Kamalan Jeevaratnam, who is head of physiology at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland-Perdana University in Malaysia, and Dr Lim Hong Ngee, Senior Lecturer at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank members of the Merdeka Award Board of Trustees – Tan Sri Dato’ Shamsul Azhar Abbas, President & Group CEO of PETRONAS; Mr See Kok Yew, Chairman of the ExxonMobil Subsidiaries in Malaysia, Mr Iain Lo, Chairman of Shell Malaysia, Dato’ Henry Sackville Barlow and Professor Emeritus Datin Dr Norella Kong.
I would also like to thank the 22 members of the Merdeka Award Nomination and Selection committees, all of whom are distinguished industry leaders in their own right. My appreciation also to members of the 2014 Merdeka Award Grant Selection Committee comprising senior members of the Human Resources Divisions of the Founding Members, PETRONAS, ExxonMobil and Shell.
Thank you and have a pleasant evening.