GRANTS: In search of the spirit of 'merdeka'

06 MAY 2012, BY New Straits Times

THE Merdeka Award Trust announced that the Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment is now open for application.

The grant is a new initiative by the Merdeka Award, Malaysia's highest accolade of excellence, to identify and recognise outstanding young Malaysians who personify the spirit of merdeka and demonstrate a commitment to excellence in their area of expertise.

The grant programme, first announced by Merdeka Award patron Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak last October, is aimed at creating a generation of people who will help the nation compete effectively in the global arena in the future.

This year, only one grant is being offered, although two will be given out in subsequent years.

The grant is open to qualified Malaysians between the ages of 22 and 35 in three categories -- Education and Community; Environment; and Health, Science and Technology -- mirroring the categories of the Merdeka Award.

These classifications were selected because of their importance to Malaysia's progress.

The general categories include areas such as visual and performing arts; heritage and social work; sport; economics and finance; scientific disciplines; and areas related to the environment such as climate change, biodiversity and the protection and conservation of the environment.

Applicants must submit their applications as well as a proposal that outlines their research area and goals and how the project will benefit Malaysians.

There will be two rounds of interviews before the recipient is announced.

Potential awardees will first be interviewed by a selection committee made up of the chairman, human resource heads of the three founding partners of the Merdeka Award and representatives of the grant's sponsors.

The second interview will be with the Merdeka Award Board of Trustees.

"The recipient of this grant will represent Malaysia abroad and we expect the awardee to be a person of outstanding calibre," says Merdeka Award Trust secretary to the Board of Trustees Datuk Mohammad Medan Abdullah.

"Much is expected of the recipient of the grant so the trustees are mindful that the selection process must be as stringent and as demanding as that of Merdeka Award recipients," he adds.

The grant's awardee will engage in short-term (of up to three months) collaborative projects at selected, internationally-recognised host institutions abroad in these fields of study.

The selected candidate will have to complete the attachment within a year of receiving the grant.

During this time, the awardee will be required to share his experiences by maintaining a personal blog and giving updates via social media.

Upon his return, the recipient will be required to undertake a number of speaking engagements.

Applications close June 30. For details and to apply, visit



Dr Edison Lee Tian Khoon
Dr Edison headed to Sweden’s Uppsala University, where he joined the Department of Chemistry, Ångström Laboratory, as part of his attachment stint. He is currently carrying out active research in polymer electrolyte and nanomaterials for Lithium-ion batteries. Read more about him here:
Innovating the Energy Ecosystem
Chrishen R. Gomez
Having attended the prestigious Ivy League Brown University as part of his attachment programme, 27-year-old Chrishen is now with the Wildlife Research and Conservation Unit at Oxford University. Chrishen is busy developing a genetic-based research project on the Sunda Clouded Leopard. Read more about him here: Conserving Our Forests & Future
Dr Zetty
Dr Zetty is currently working on anti-cancer compounds found in Malaysian seaweed and has continued to pursue her original project proposal of microalgae vaccine carriers for fish. A working solution has been patented by Dr Zetty and will be deployed within the coming year.
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