Six Outstanding Individuals Conferred Prestigious 2015 Merdeka Award

05 OCTOBER 2015
Thursday, October 1, 2015:
The Merdeka Award Trust, founded by PETRONAS, ExxonMobil and Shell, announced Thursday that it has conferred six eminent individuals the 2015 Merdeka Award, for their outstanding and lasting contributions in their respective fields to the nation. 
The announcement was made by His Royal Highness Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, the Sultan of Perak Darul Ridzuan and Royal Patron of the Merdeka Award Trust, at an event held at the Malaysian Petroleum Club, KLCC. 
Present at the Announcement were Founding Members of the Merdeka Award Board of Trustees Datuk Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin, President & Group CEO of PETRONAS; Mr See Kok Yew, Chairman of the ExxonMobil Subsidiaries in Malaysia; and Mr Iain Lo, Chairman of Shell Malaysia. The event was also attended by members of the Merdeka Award Selection Committee and Nomination committees, senior management of PETRONAS, ExxonMobil and Shell, and members of the media.

Selected through an extensive and stringent process, these eminent individuals stood above the rest as the most worthy candidates who embody the true Spirit of Merdeka and the pursuit of excellence. 
“The founding of a globally-recognised volunteer relief organisation; advancing our understanding of conservation biology; championing environmental sustainability internationally; finding a remedy for avian influenza; harnessing green technologies; and advocating wildlife conservation; – these groundbreaking developments have helped the nation in meeting global challenges in domains such as the environment, health, industry and social welfare,” His Royal Highness Sultan Nazrin said in his speech.

The 2015 Merdeka Award recipients are:
  • Education and Community: TAN SRI DR JEMILAH MAHMOOD
    For outstanding contribution to the development of humanitarian and international emergency relief.
    For outstanding contribution to research and understanding of plant taxonomy and conservation biology in Malaysia.
    For outstanding contribution to the observation, analysis and assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services, fostering the remediation and protection of the natural environment and promoting environmental sustainability in Malaysia and globally.
    For outstanding contribution in the field of microbiology and virology through a better understanding and diagnosis of contagious and fatal viruses in poultry and the study of the potential of the virus in combating cancer cells.
  • Outstanding Scholastic Achievement: PROFESSOR DR IR MOHD ALI HASHIM
    For outstanding scholastic contribution in the research of separation processes and water and wastewater treatment and for his instrumental role in the setting-up of the Centre for Ionic Liquids.
  • Outstanding Contribution to the People of Malaysia: DR ELIZABETH LESLEY BENNETT
    For outstanding contribution to the conservation and management of wetland habitats and that of endangered wildlife in Malaysia through research, advocacy and policies.
In addition to the honour and cash award that comes with the accolade, the 2015 Merdeka Award recipients join the list of 28 individuals and two organisations in being recognised as among Malaysia's most inspiring individuals and organisations which have made lasting impact in the development of this nation.
The 2015 Merdeka Award recipients will receive their awards at an award ceremony that will be held before the end of the year.
Alongside with the Merdeka Award, two young scientists, Ms Chua Ling Ling, 26, and Dr Mohd Sukor Su'ait, 30, were awarded the 2015 Merdeka Awards Grant for International Attachment, which is a signature outreach programme by the Merdeka Award Trust.

The two scientists will both have the opportunity to undergo an attachment of up to three months at an internationally-recognised institution abroad. There, the Grant recipients will engage in collaborative projects or programmes that would enable them to establish contact and working relationships with other experts in their fields, share knowledge, and build on the body of work in their respective areas of research.
Ms Chua’s research seeks to understand how the gut microbiome (bacterial in the gut) interacts with the immune system and leads to the development of age-related illnesses and premature aging, while Dr Sukor’s research will be focusing on fabrication of solid-state dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) utilising Malaysian commodities such as rubber, palm and seaweeds as solid polymer electrolyte. The aim of his study is to reduce the dependency of petrochemical based polymer for electrolytes application and replacing liquid electrolytes with solid polymer electrolytes in electrochemical devices for safe and environmental friendly energy resources.
Ms Chua and Dr Sukor’s attachments will follow that of recipients Dr Kamalan Jeevaratnam and Dr Lim Hong Ngee who were awarded the Grant in 2014. Dr Kamalan has completed his Attachment at the University of Cambridge, UK, while Dr Lim is currently pursuing her attachment at the University of Toronto in Canada.

Malaysians will be able to learn more about this signature initiative and share in the progress of Ms Chua and Dr Sukor’s attachment via the Merdeka Award website ( and the Merdeka Award Facebook page.



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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