For excellence and lasting contributions to the people of Malaysia
The Board of Trustees of the Merdeka Award Trust announced Wednesday that it has conferred five eminent Malaysians the 2013 Merdeka Award, for their outstanding and lasting contributions in their respective fields to the nation and the people of Malaysia.
The announcement was made 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, at an event held at the Malaysian Petroleum Club.
Present at the announcement were members of the Merdeka Award Board of Trustees, members of the Merdeka Award Selection Committee and Nomination Committees and members of the media.
The five 2013 Merdeka Award recipients are:
In the Education & Community
category, there are two recipients this year.
The first Joint Recipient of the 2013 Merdeka Award in the Education & Community Category is Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Utama Arshad Ayub for his outstanding contribution in shaping Malaysia’s education landscape through the development of professional education and education reforms and innovation that have resulted in education becoming more accessible to Malaysians.
Tan Sri Arshad is among the foremost education visionaries in Malaysia. He laid the foundation for Institut Teknologi MARA (now UiTM) and led one of the most successful education initiatives in the country.
These early efforts were original and outstanding, and have since been introduced and emulated by many other educational institutions in the country.
The second Joint Recipient of the 2013 Merdeka Award in the Education & Community Category is Raja Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Utama Muhammad Alias Raja Muhammad Ali for his outstanding contribution to rural development and rural reform through organising successful land settlement projects (FELDA) for the many landless, rural population in Malaysia.
Raja Alias helmed FELDA for more than three decades, crystalising the vision of then Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, “to provide land to the landless and jobs for the jobless”. FELDA has since been recognised as a key agency in the effort to eradicate rural poverty in Malaysia and its model has been applied in other countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia and nations in Africa.
The 2013 Merdeka Award recipient in the Environment Category is Dr Lim Boo Liat for his outstanding contribution to the conservation of Malaysia’s biological diversity through the study, understanding and control of vector-borne diseases and the relationship between diseases and the environment; and for advocating the protection of our natural heritage.
Dr Lim, a pioneer in the field of zoology in Malaysia, is regarded as a leading authority in the research and conservation of Malaysia’s biological diversity through his six decades of scientific research and environmental advocacy.
He has made significant contributions to the publication of the Red List of Mammals of Peninsular Malaysia, considered to be the first national Red List carried out by any country in the world.
The 2013 Merdeka Award recipient in the Health, Science & Technology Category is Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Yahya Awang for his outstanding contribution to pioneering the development of clinical research and cardiac surgery in Malaysia and for his instrumental role in the establishment of the National Heart Institute (IJN).
Dr Yahya played a significant and pioneering role in the development of cardiac surgery in Malaysia, at a time when this area of study was at its infancy in Malaysia and the country had many patients in dire need of treatment. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the National Heart Institute, or IJN – Institut Jantung Negara.
He successfully performed the first heart transplant in Malaysia, paving the way for heart surgery to become accessible to more Malaysians.
The 2013 Merdeka Award recipient in the Outstanding Scholastic Achievement category is Emeritus Professor Dato’ Dr Lam Sai Kit for his outstanding contribution to scholarly research and development in medical virology and emerging infectious diseases including dengue.
Professor Lam is among the most influential figures in medical virology in South East Asia, notably for his research in dengue that is recognised worldwide by the World Health Organisation. His 40 years of research into dengue, a global public health problem in developing countries, has led to the reduction of morbidity and mortality of this disease, and contributed to the disease management.
Professor Lam was part of a 15-member team from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, that isolated the Nipah virus as a cause of viral encephalitis among pig farmers in the country, helping to contain the outbreak. The Nipah Virus Encephalitis Investigation Team was conferred the Merdeka Award in 2008.
There is no award this year in the category of Outstanding Contribution to the People of Malaysia.
In his speech, His Royal Highness said, “While these towering Malaysians and their contributions are extraordinary in their own right, what makes this year’s Merdeka Award recipients even more interesting is the combined legacy of their achievements and contributions:
With Tan Sri Arshad’s pioneering efforts, UiTM has grown to become Malaysia's largest institution of higher learning in terms of size and population offering about 480 academic programmes.
Similarly, Raja Alias’ initial efforts have resulted in millions of acres of land being planted with oil palm and rubber and many FELDA settlements established across the country.
Dr Lim has conceptualised “ecological labeling” by parasite pattern, accepted by animal behaviorists and mammalogists around the world, and has helped revive and strengthen the Malaysian Nature Society, itself a recipient of the Merdeka Award in 2008.
Dr Yahya’s vision and dedication and his early efforts in IJN have spawned an institution that has treated more than a million patients since it was established in 1992. He has trained no less than 50 of the country’s 57 cardiac surgeons currently in practice.
And Professor Lam founded the Asia Pacific Society for Medical Virology, which has over 600 members from over 40 countries, and the Society continues to be actively engaged in collaborative research.”
His Royal Highness added, “Collectively, these individuals have positively impacted numerous lives, not just in Malaysia, but also in the region and around the world, and made a significant difference to our understanding and appreciation of the world we live in today. They are Malaysians who embody the Spirit of Merdeka
and we hope their significant contributions, which brings our tally of Merdeka Award recipients to 22 individuals and two organisations, will continue to inspire Malaysians in the years to come.”
The afternoon’s event saw each recipient honoured through a citation presented by a representative of the respective Nomination Committees.
The citations for Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Utama Arshad Ayub and Raja Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Utama Muhammad Alias were presented by Ms Rikke Jarvad Netterstrom and Dato’ Faridah Merican respectively, both Members of the Merdeka Award Education & Community Nomination Committee.
Ms Elizabeth Cardosa, Member of the Merdeka Award Environment Nomination Committee spoke about the achievements of Dr Lim Boo Liat, while Associate Professor Dr George Lee Eng Geap, Member of the Merdeka Award Health, Science & Technology Nomination Committee spoke about the significant achievements of Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Yahya Awang.
The event concluded with the citation on Emeritus Professor Dato’ Dr Lam Sai Kit, presented by Professor Emeritus Dr Yong Hoi Sen, Member of the Merdeka Award Outstanding Scholastic Achievement Nomination Committee.
Since it was launched in 2007 by PETRONAS, ExxonMobil and Shell, the Merdeka Award continues to grow and strengthen in its quest to recognise the contributions of individuals and organisations that have garnered remarkable and lasting achievements for Malaysia.
The Merdeka Award’s aim is to commemorate the true spirit of independence, which transcends the conventional definition of national sovereignty. It explores the liberation of the mind and spirit – factors which foster the realisation of human potential and the pursuit of excellence.
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 we believe are instrumental to the overall growth and development of a nation, namely:
Education & Community
Health, Science & Technology
Outstanding Scholastic Achievement
(and) Outstanding Contribution to the People of Malaysia
One award is made for each of the five categories above. In the event that in a given year, two individuals or organisations are deemed to be equally deserving of recognition, the award will be shared. Recipients receive a trophy, the Merdeka Award Work of Art by renowned artist and a cash award of RM500,000.
The search, nomination and selection of Merdeka Award recipients are extensive and rigorous. In the final round of selection only the most outstanding achievements and contributions are recognised.
The 2013 Merdeka Award recipients will receive their awards from the Patron of the Merdeka Award, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak, at the 2013 Merdeka Award Presentation, to be held at a later date.