Press Releases

Press Releases

Merdeka Award Grant Now Open for Application

24 APRIL 2012, BY The Merdeka Award Secretariat

The Merdeka Award Trust announced Tuesday that the Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment is now open for application. Applications close June 30, 2012.

Dato' Mohammad Medan Abdullah, Chairman of the Selection Committee, Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment, with the posters announcing the call to entry for application Kuala Lumpur April 24 2012

Speaking at a briefing to media 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 their field of study, share knowledge and expertise, and upon their return, utilise these relationships and shared knowledge to further build on their body of work,” he explained.

The Grant programme, first announced by the Prime Minister of Malaysia and Patron of the Merdeka Award, YAB Dato' Sri Mohammad Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak at the Merdeka Award Presentation Ceremony held on October 10 last year, is aimed at nurturing young leaders – the future generation – to help the nation compete effectively in the global arena and to allow the Post-Merdeka Generation to participate in the Merdeka Award through a complementary programme. One grant will be offered in 2012 and two each in subsequent years.

The Grant is open to qualified Malaysians, between the ages of 22 and 35, in select disciplines – Education & Community, Environment as well as Health, Science & Technology, mirroring the categories in which the Merdeka Award itself is accorded. These categories have been carefully selected because of the importance of these disciplines to the progress of the country.

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.

Recipients of the Grant will engage in short-term (up to three months), collaborative projects at selected, internationally-recognised host institutions abroad in these areas of study.

Speaking about the Merdeka Award Grant’s selection process, Dato Medan said, “Much is expected of the recipient of the Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment, and the Merdeka Award Board of Trustees has been very mindful of the fact that the selection process must therefore be as stringent and as demanding as that accorded to our Merdeka Award recipients.

“The Merdeka Award Grant recipient will therefore have to go through a 3-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 Merdeka Award Board of Trustees. The recipient of this Grant will represent Malaysia abroad, and we expect the recipient to be a person of outstanding caliber,” Dato Medan added.

The attachment is made possible through the global network and reach of the three Merdeka Award founding partners – PETRONAS, Shell and ExxonMobil, who have each given their commitment to utilise their global links with some of the world’s most renowned institutions, corporations, agencies and organisations, to help facilitate this attachment and make the Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment a success.

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 during the attachment by maintaining a personal blog, while also sharing updates on social media. The recipient will also be required to undertake a number of speaking engagements upon his or her return.

This will allow other young Malaysians, especially those aspiring to be future Merdeka Award Grant recipients, to learn about what the attachment entails, what is expected from them, and to draw from the knowledge and exposure the Grant recipient is experiencing. It will also allow young Malaysians, especially the Post-Merdeka Generation, to be inspired towards excellence.

To enable the Merdeka Award Grant application process, the Merdeka Award has restructured the Merdeka Award website, and has made the Grant application process exclusively available online, making it easy for any young, aspiring Malaysian to apply for the Grant. Details of the Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment and the online application forms are available on

The Merdeka Award Grant for International Application’s 3-step Selection Process

  1. Submission of application, along with an Attachment Proposal that outlines the applicant’s 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 required to develop 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 candidates in each category will be developed.
  2. A Selection Committee, chaired by the Secretary to the Merdeka Award Board of Trustees and consisting of the Human Resource heads of the three founding partners of the Merdeka Award – PETRONAS, Shell and ExxonMobil, and representatives of the Grant’s sponsors, will then review the long-list of candidates and select a short-list of 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.
  3. From the interviews and shortlisting process, the Selection Committee will then recommend 3 candidates to the Merdeka Award Board of Trustees, who will make the final selection.

The Merdeka Award was established by 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.

A total of 14 individuals and 2 organisations have received the Merdeka Award since it was established in 2007.

Through this, the Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment and the Merdeka Award’s other initiatives like the Merdeka Award Roundtables, 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.



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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