UM professor gets Merdeka Award

11 DECEMBER 2020, BY The Star

969376-3.jpgPETALING JAYA: Four recipients were honoured with the Merdeka Award for their contribution towards a more sustainable Malaysia.

The recipients were recognised for their work in areas ranging from the community and the environment to health and research excellence.

Prof Dr Ng Kwan Hoong from Universiti Malaya (UM) was conferred the Outstanding Scholastic Achievement award for his educational and pioneering work towards advancing the fields of medical physics and radiation medicine in Malaysia.

“I was in disbelief. I thought a mistake had been made. It’s a humbling experience, ” he told The Star after the names of recipients were announced on the Merdeka Award’s website yesterday.

Each year, the award is conferred on individuals or organisations in five categories: Education and Community; Environment; Health, Science and Technology; Outstanding Scholastic Achievement; and Outstanding Contribution to the People of Malaysia.

The other recipients are the National Cancer Council (Education and Community), South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (Environment), and Suzanne Mooney (Outstanding Contribution to the People of Malaysia).

There was no winner for the Health, Science and Technology category.

Dr Ng, from UM’s Faculty of Medicine, is currently working with local and international social scientists, linguists and historians to focus on the social impact of Covid-19.

At the height of the Covid-19 outbreak, too much emphasis was placed on the impact of the virus on people’s health and the economic ramifications, he said.

He also led a group of scientists from Malaysia and the United Kingdom in May 2020 in the development of an online resource for new and emerging Covid-19 research publications.

Dr Ng and his team set out to bring an end to the rapid spread of false information regarding the novel coronavirus, by developing authentic research materials.

“People must work towards the common good of humankind, and not for one’s own glory.

“Moving forward, I want to consolidate my mentorship programme and develop leadership skills among the younger generation, ” he added.

In March, Dr Ng came up with the concept design of Malaysia’s first infrared digital thermometer that can collect real-time data.

He went on to co-head a team of UM researchers to develop the Internet of Things (IoT) innovation that can be used to predict and detect Covid-19 hotspots.

In November, Prof Ng was awarded the International Union for Physical and Engineering Sciences in Medicine (IUPESM) Fellowship in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the international development of physical and engineering sciences in medicine.

In 2018, he became the first scientist from a developing country to receive the prestigious International Organisation for Medical Physics (IOMP) Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award.

In 2013, he was named IOMP’s top 50 medical physicists.

The Merdeka Award was introduced in 2007 by Petronas, ExxonMobil and Shell to recognise Malaysians and non-Malaysians who have made outstanding and lasting contributions to the nation in their respective fields.

Due to the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, the recipients will receive their awards in a physical ceremony that will be held next year, the Merdeka Award Trust said in a statement yesterday.

Each recipient will receive a trophy, certificate and cash award of RM500,000.

To date, 53 individuals and four organisations have received the award since it was introduced.



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:
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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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