The Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment was announced in conjunction with the 2011 Merdeka Award Presentation ceremony by Prime Minister YAB Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak. It is designed to make it possible for qualified Malaysians, between the ages 22 - 35 to engage in short-term collaborative projects/programmes at a selected, internationally-recognised host institution. This is help the recipient build on his or her expertise by undergoing a learning experience in an institution or organisation of international repute, and improving the recipient's body of work and achievements.
The attachment is made possible through the global network and reach of the three Merdeka Award founding partners - PETRONAS, ExxonMobil and Shell, who have each given their commitment to utilise their global links with some of the world's renowned institutions, corporations, agencies and organisations, to help facilitate this attachment and make the Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment a success.
The Grant is open to qualified Malaysians, between the ages of 22 and 35, in select disciplines - Education and Community, Environment as well as Health, Science and Technology, mirroring the categories in which the Merdeka Award itself is accorded. The broad categories include areas such as visual and performing arts, heritage and social work, sports; traditional disciplines like economics and finance, scientific disciplines, and areas related to the environment such as climate change, biodiversity and the protection and conservation of the environment. These categories have been carefully selected because of the importance of these disciplines to the progress of the country.
Speaking at a briefing to media (attended by Malaysia Students Blog) as well as representatives of institutions of higher learning and non-governmental organisations across a myriad of disciplines, Dato Mohammad Medan Abdullah, Secretary to the Board of Trustees of the Merdeka Award said, "This exciting new initiative by the Merdeka Award, Malaysia's highest award of excellence, is designed to identify and recognise outstanding young Malaysians who personify the Spirit of Merdeka, and those who, in their own areas of expertise, and in their own way, demonstrate a commitment to excellence and a contribution to society. They are individuals who are making a difference to Malaysia and the lives of Malaysians."
"The aim of this attachment is for them to establish contact and working relationships with other experts in the field of study, share knowledge and expertise, and upon their return, utilise these relationships and shared knowledge to further build on the body of work," he explained.
One grant will be offered in 2012 and two each in subsequent years. Applications for the grant opened on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 and will close on June 30, 2012. All applications must be made online at www.merdekaaward.my
The Merdeka Award Grant recipient will have to go through a stringent 3-step Selection Process:
The first will be the submission of an application, along with an Attachment Proposal that outlines his or her proposed area of research, what he or she hopes to achieve from it and the benefit the research will bring to the people of Malaysia.
The applicant will also be responsible for developing an Attachment Budget, outlining the anticipated expenses to cover the attachment. Both the Attachment Proposal and Attachment Budget will be reviewed by the Merdeka Award Secretariat, from which a long list of promising candidats in each category will be developed.
A Selection Committe, chaired by Dato Mohammad Medan Abdullah, Secretary to the Board of Trustees of the Merdeka Award, and consisting of the Human Resource heads of the three founding partners of the Merdeka Award - PETRONAS, ExxonMobil and Shell, will then review the long-list of candidates and select a short-list if the top 3 candidates in each category.
These candidates will then be called for an interview with the Selection Committee, who will evaluate them in areas such as relevance of the proposed area of research, the quality of their proposal, the innovativeness of the area and method of research, and their commitment to and method of sharing their learnings with younger Malaysians upon their return.
Everything, from their research methods, their concept of teamwork, their philosophy and commitment to community building, right down to their public speaking and social and media skills will be evaluated.
From interviews and shortlisting process, the Selection Committe will then recommend 3 names to the Merdeka Award Board of Trustees, who will make the final selection
The recipient will have to complete the attachment within a year of the Grant being awarded. During this time, he or she will be required to share his or her experiences by maintaining a personal blog, while also sharing updates on social media.