Press Releases

Press Releases

Merdeka Award For Three Outstanding Malaysians

12 OCTOBER 2011, BY The Merdeka Award Secretariat

For excellence and lasting contributions to the people of Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Monday, October 12, 2011:

The Merdeka Award, the nation’s highest award for excellence, was recently presented to three eminent Malaysians for their outstanding and lasting contributions to the nation and the people of Malaysia in their respective fields.

The recipients of the 2011 Merdeka Award were Dato’ Dr Kenneth Yeang, in the Environment Category, for outstanding contribution to the development of design methods for the ecological design and planning of the built environment; and two joint recipients in the category of Outstanding Scholastic Achievement -- Professor Dato’ Dr Goh Khean Lee, for outstanding contribution in elevating the study and practice of gastroenterology and hepatology in Malaysia to global standards, and to Professor Dr Mak Joon Wah, for outstanding fundamental and applied research in parasitology and parasitic diseases, public health and pathology.

The awards were presented by the Patron of the Merdeka Award, Prime Minister of Malaysia, YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak, at a special Presentation Event held at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas on October 10, 2011. This is the fourth year that the Merdeka Award recipients have been honoured, following the establishment of the Merdeka Award in 2007, and its first group of recipients in 2008.

Speaking at the event, Prime Minister Najib said that Malaysia’s success and achievements to date have been brought about by its people and their diligence, and Malaysians could not, and must not compromise and settle for lower standards or mediocrity in the nation’s quest for excellence.

“Malaysians must not be complacent but move forward with new technologies, ideas and discoveries. Change is the only constant. There is no escaping this trend and we must strive to better ourselves and create an even better environment for future generations — our children and grandchildren,” he said.

Prime Minister Najib commended the recipients for their outstanding work, and the Merdeka Award for continuing to inspire Malaysians to strive higher and further for the country. He emphasised that the nomination and selection process focuses on achievements and not personalities.

Najib also announced the establishment of the Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment, a newly instituted programme by the Merdeka Award.

The Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment is designed to make it possible for qualified Malaysians between the ages 22 -35 to engage in short-term collaborative projects or programmes at a selected, internationally-recognised host institution. It is also designed to help the recipient build on his or her expertise by undergoing a learning experience in an institution or organisation of international repute, and improving on their body of work and achievements. One grant will be offered next year and two each in subsequent years in selected disciplines of education, arts, sports, community and social work, environment, health as well as science and technology.

With this initiative, the Merdeka Award aims to identify and honour outstanding young post-Merdeka Malaysians who exemplify the spirit of Merdeka. It is also for those who, in their respective areas of expertise demonstrate a commitment to excellence, contribute to the betterment of society and the nation’s development.

Over 500 guests attended the event, held at the Dewan Filharmonik PETRONAS at the PETRONAS Twin Towers.

In his welcoming address, Chairman of the Merdeka Award Board of Trustees, Dato’ Shamsul Azhar Abbas said the “burning passion and unyielding determination to go beyond the conventional and the ordinary, to create and achieve original and breakthrough performance in their respective fields of expertise, is what sets apart the Merdeka Award recipients.”

The event also featured performances by the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and conductor Dato’ Mokhzani Ismail, as well as young Malaysian talents Alyah (Noor Hasliah binti Abu Hasan) and Hafiz (Mohd Hafiz bin Mohd Suip). Alyah performed the song “Bahtera Merdeka”, while Hafiz sang “Warisan”.

The evening also saw two former Merdeka Award recipients sharing their journey to excellence since receiving the Merdeka Award. Professor Ahmad Ismail, representing 2008 recipient Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) spoke about the MNS-Merdeka Award Fund, which was set up by the MNS to continue the work on the Temenggor conservation campaign.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Vice-Chancellor Professor Dato’ Ir Zaini Ujang, the 2009 recipient, spoke about how funds from the Merdeka Award was used in establishing an endowment for the University which will give out scholarships to deserving students at the university.

For 2011, there was no award conferred in the categories of Education & Community; Health, Science & Technology; and Outstanding Contribution to the People of Malaysia.


The Merdeka Award was established by its Founders, namely PETRONAS, ExxonMobil and Shell on 27 August 2007, to recognise and reward Malaysians and non-Malaysians who have made outstanding and lasting contributions to the nation and the people of Malaysia in their respective fields.

The choice of name, Merdeka Award, reflects the Founding Members’ aim to commemorate the true spirit of independence, which transcends the conventional definition of national sovereignty. It explores the liberation of the mind and spirit – factors that foster the realisation of human potential and the pursuit of excellence.

Each year, the annual Merdeka Award is conferred on individuals and/or organisations whose excellent work and achievements have made an outstanding impact on the nation and its people in the following categories, namely Education and Community; Environment; Health, Science and Technology; Outstanding Scholastic Achievement; and Outstanding Contribution to the People of Malaysia.

The selection of Merdeka Award recipients is made through a stringent and rigorous process, conducted first by the Merdeka Award’s five Nomination Committees, and then by the Selection Committee. The final recipients are selected by the Merdeka Award Board of Trustees.

In 2011, the Merdeka Award welcomed 22 new committee members, made up of eminent individuals from Malaysia and abroad, each bringing with them a wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise to allow them to nominate and select outstanding individuals and organisations who have laboured tirelessly, with great sincerity and conviction, thereby demonstrating the true Spirit of Merdeka.

The Award categories reflect focus areas that are regarded as instrumental to the overall growth and development of a nation. One Award will be made for each of the five categories above. In the event that in a given year, two individuals and/or organizations are deemed to be equally deserving of recognition, the Award will be shared. The Merdeka Award Recipient will be awarded with a certificate, a trophy and prize money of RM500,000.

To date, a total of 14 individuals and 2 organisations have received the Merdeka Award since it was established in 2007.

Through this and the Merdeka Award’s other initiatives like the recently launched Merdeka Award Roundtable, the Merdeka Award aims to promote thought leadership and innovation, foster a culture of excellence and encourage a world view, thereby enhancing Malaysia’s standing as a dynamic, competitive 21st century Global Player in all key sectors from science and technology to the arts.


Issued by:
October 10, 2011

For further information, please contact:

Merdeka Award Secretariat
Tini Syed Sultan | Rabithah Zakaria | 03 2331 4543

AllAboutBrands Communications:
Sue D’Cruz | 019 321 3607 |
Marina Abdullah | 012 206 3670 |
Jeninder Gill | 012 233 0124 |



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