KUALA LUMPUR: Prominent historian and academician Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim was among seven individuals to be honoured with the prestigious 2018 Merdeka Award for their outstanding contributions to the nation and people of Malaysia.
They were presented with their awards by Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, who is also the royal patron of the Merdeka Award Trust, at the award presentation ceremony today.
Khoo is the joint recipient of the Outstanding Scholastic Achievement for his contribution to the scholarly research, development of reinterpretation of Malaysian history and lifetime dedication in history education here.
Later, when speaking to the press, Khoo, who was among the writers who formulated the Rukun Negara, said he was honoured to receive the award, which he said was organised to encourage Malaysians to focus on nation building.
He, however, said he was worried about many of the younger generation today, claiming they were beginning to ignore the principles of the Rukun Negara and only taught to memorise without understanding its true meaning.
"When you ask them, they don't know. It can't be like that. Everything must be well explained," he said.
The other recipient of the Outstanding Scholastic Achievement is economist Distinguished Prof Dr Rajah Rasiah, who has contributed tremendously in the development of theoretical macroeconomic framework in the promotion of sustainable development.
"Father of Malaysian Animation" Hassan Abdul Muthalib, the man who directed the popular, animated Sang Kancil series and Malaysia's first animated feature film Silat Legenda, was honoured with the Education and Community award for influencing the local animation industry.
The only non-Malaysian in the list, Andrew James Eavis, was recognised for his pioneering work in the areas of geomorphology and cave survey and the discovery of the Sarawak Chamber, and was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to the People of Malaysia.
The other award recipients by category are:
- Environment: Gurmit Singh K S (for contribution through activism and advocacy works in the promotion of sustainable environment and combating climate change in Malaysia
- Health, Science and Technology (joint recipient): Prof Dr Mohd Hair Bejo (for his advancing efforts towards sustainable food production
- Health, Science and Technology (joint recipient): Prof Datuk Dr Gan Ee Kiang (for his pioneering work in developing a successful, exemplary commercial model for the research and development in pharmacology
Each award recipient takes home a Merdeka Award trophy, certificate of recognition and cash.
Among others present for the ceremony were Raja Permaisuri Perak Tuanku Zara Salim, Petronas chairman Datuk Ahmad Nizam Salleh, Petronas president and CEO Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee, ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Malaysia Inc president and chairman Edward E Graham and Shell Malaysia chairman Datuk Iain Lo.
The Merdeka Award, dubbed by some as the Malaysian version of the Noble Peace Prize, was established by Petronas, Exxonmobil and Shell in 2007 to honour excellent individuals and organisations whose works and achievements have contributed to the nation's growth and inspired greatness among Malaysians.
The nomination and selection process is administered by the Merdeka Award Board of Trustees, and involves a rigorous and stringent appraisal process.