Launch of the Merdeka Award & Sketches of Science Exhibitions - Celebrating the Culture of Excellence

13 DECEMBER 2013
It was a celebration of excellence on Wednesday when four organisations – the Merdeka Award Trust, GALERI PETRONAS, the Academy of Sciences Malaysia and  the Nobel Museum – came together to present Malaysians two concurrent exhibitions titled “Merdeka Award & Sketches of Science Exhibitions:  Celebrating the Culture of Excellence”.

Launched by the Chairman of the Merdeka Award Board of Trustees His Royal Highness Raja Dr Nazrin Shah Ibni Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah, the Regent of Perak Darul Ridzuan, in the presence of over 100 guests of the four organising bodies, the exhibitions mark the first time these organisations have come together in a joint initiative.


Six years into the Merdeka Award’s journey, the Merdeka Award exhibition showcases the distinct and individual personalities of its recipients over the years.  It is a tribute to their relentless pursuit of excellence and their commitment to going beyond the call of duty; in short to their very manifestation of the “Spirit of Merdeka”.

By coming together with GALERI PETRONAS to stage the exhibition, the Merdeka Award hopes to cultivate an appreciation of the arts, science, technology and discoveries, and inspire and excite young Malaysians to explore and pursue their passions for the benefit of the nation.


The exhibition is being held alongside the Nobel Museum’s “Sketches of Science” exhibition, which takes the complex discoveries made by Nobel Laureates and adds a creative element that expresses well on paper.  The “Sketches of Science” exhibition has been brought to Malaysia by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM).


Seventeen talented Malaysian artists, including the likes of Datuk Azman Yusuff, Gan Chin Lee, Jeganathan Ramachandran and Hairani Mohammad, have been commissioned by the organisers to portray the Merdeka Award recipients in interesting perspectives and different media to further enrich the exhibition experience.

Speaking at the launch, HRH Raja Dr Nazrin Shah said: “While these works of arts are objects of great beauty, their true significance lie in the achievements they represent.  Collectively, these 22 individuals and 2 organisations have made significant and sustainable contributions to the growth and advancement of Malaysia in areas as diverse as medicine, research, environment, architecture, education, welfare, and agriculture.”

Asked to explain the inspiration behind his stunning charcoal on linen portrait of 2012 Merdeka Award recipient in the category for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement, Tan Sri Professor Dr Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas, artist Hairani Mohammad, better known professionally as Ronnie Mohammad said: "Charcoal is one of the most basic art media, and one of the oldest. I thought it was a perfect medium in which to capture the personality of Tan Sri Syed Naquib, who is recognised worldwide as an authority on Muslim education. It's about going back to the fundamentals of art, and the basics of education."

Another artist, Gan Chin Lee, commended the organisers on coming up with the idea for the exhibition, saying: “This is a great way, through art, to express our appreciation to the Merdeka Award recipients who have contributed much to the country. The exhibition is also a good platform and a great opportunity for us Malaysians, especially those in the arts and those who appreciate art, to know more about the Merdeka Award recipients and their work.”

Gan, who worked on an oil painting of Tan Sri Dato' Lim Phaik Gan, 2009 Joint Recipient in the category of Education and Community, added: "Tan Sri PG Lim is my heroine. I have bought and read her books. She may be gone but will always be remembered for her contributions to the country."

Several Merdeka Award recipients were present at the launch, including this year’s recipient in the Health, Science and Technology Category, Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Yahya Awang; 2010 Education and Community recipient Datin Paduka Mother A Mangalam S Iyaswamy Iyer; 2010 Joint Recipient for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement Professor Emeritus Dr Yong Hoi Sen and 2009 Health, Science & Technology recipient Professor Datuk Dr Halimaton Hamdan.

The Merdeka Award & Sketches of Science Exhibitions - Celebrating the Culture of Excellence exhibitions will be on show at GALERI PETRONAS, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, from December 12, 2013, to January 19, 2014.   A number of interesting activities are being planned in conjunction with this exhibition, including a series of Café Scientifique talks by eminent Malaysian scientists. 

For Malaysians around the country and abroad who are not able to visit the exhibition, a virtual tour will be launched in coming weeks. More information on the Merdeka Award and the “Merdeka Award: Celebrating the Culture of Excellence” exhibition is available at




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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