KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Mohammad Medan Abdullah said Malaysia must be at the forefront of ideas and contribute to the world’s agenda, stressing the need for the country’s future generations to be personified with the spirit of Merdeka.
Mohammad Medan, who is secretary to the Board of Trustees of the Merdeka Award, said the Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment would be the ideal platform to nurture young leaders.
"This exciting new initiative by the Merdeka Award, Malaysia's highest award of excellence, is designed to identify and recognise outstanding young locals 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 make a difference to Malaysia and in the lives of Malaysians," he said during a media briefing yesterday.
He said the aim of the international grant was to allow young Malaysians to establish contact and working relationship with other experts in various fields of study.
The grant is open to qualified youth, aged between 22 and 35, in broad categories including areas such as visual and performing arts, heritage and social work, sports; traditional discipline 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.
"We haven't set any specific amount to the grant because you must also provide a budget when applying, so we will test the given budget with real costs.
"The amount will be dependent on the attachment. It will be influenced on where you going whether to Harvard or Pakistan," he said.
The grant programme was first announced by the Prime Minister and patron of the Merdeka Award, Datuk Seri Najib Razak last year.
The International Attachment will be given to one recipient but the number of grants will increase to two from next year.
Mohammad Medan also said grant recipients will be engaged in a three-month term at selected internationally recognised institutions abroad.
"Much is expected of the recipient of the grant for International Attachment, and the board of trustees has been mindful of the fact that the selection process must be as stringent and as demanding as that accorded to our Merdeka Award recipients," he said.
He said applicants will go through a three-step selection process — the first by the Merdeka Award Secretariat, the second by a selection committee made up of the chairman, the human resource heads of the three founding partners of the Merdeka Award (Petronas, Shell and ExxonMobil) and representatives of the grant's sponsors, and finally by the board of trustees.
"It's an opportunity you don't want to miss, I think. If you get it, you will be recognised as someone with calibre. It's similar to receiving a smaller version of the Nobel Prize,” he said.
The Merdeka Award was established in 2007 to recognise and reward Malaysians and non-Malaysians who have contributed to the country in their respective fields.