KUALA LUMPUR, 10 OCTOBER, 2011: A new initiative – Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment – would be introduced next year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.
He said the grant would be open to Malaysian post-graduate students, aged between 22 and 35, in select disciplines such as education, arts, sports, community and social work, environment, health, and science and technology.
"One grant will be offered in 2012 and two each in the subsequent years," he said in his speech at the Merdeka Award presentation at the Petronas Philharmonic Hall tonight.
Najib said the grant recipients would engage in short-term, collaborative projects at selected internationally-recognized host institutions.
He said the initiative was made to encourage, tap, develop and nurture talent among the younger generation.
"The organizers aim to identify and honor outstanding young post-Merdeka Malaysians who exemplify the spirit of Merdeka, and those who in their respective areas of expertise demonstrate a commitment to excellence and to contributing to the betterment of society and the nation's development.
"The youths are our future and it is important that we guide and provide them the opportunities and facilities to pursue their interests in the best institutions globally, so that they can excel in their chosen fields and lead the nation onto a higher development platform," he said.
At the function, Najib who is also the patron of the Merdeka Award, presented the award to three Malaysians, including Datuk Dr Kenneth Yeang, the architect of the Spire Edge building in Delhi, India, National Museum of Singapore and the DiGi technical operations centre.
Yeang received the award in the environment category for his contributions to developing ecology-related designs for buildings and in environmental conservation planning.
The other two recipients were Prof Datuk Dr Goh Khean Lee and Prof Dr Mak Joon Wah for academic excellence.
Dr Goh was awarded for his contributions to developing research and practices in gastroenterology and hepatology in Malaysia to the global level.
Dr Goh who is also a clinical expert in internal medicine at Universiti Malaya, has written 191 research papers for international journals, seven book chapters and 200 abstracts.
He was also the first Malaysian to be the vice-president of the world gastroenterology body.
Dr Mak is recognized as a global expert on filariasis and malaria by the World Health Organisation after being appointed consultant in at least 17 different cases.
He has contributed a lot to developing tropical medicines in this country through his leadership in various professional bodies.
Each category of the award offered a prize money of RM500,000, a trophy and certificate.
Also present at the function were the prime minister's wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and chairman of the Merdeka Award board of trustees, Datuk Shamsul Azhar Abbas.