Press Releases

Press Releases

Merdeka Award Trust Continues to Celebrate Malaysia’s Innovative Minds

27 NOVEMBER 2021
Five young Malaysian researchers receive the 2021 Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment
Kuala Lumpur, 26 November 2021 - The Merdeka Award Trust (MAT) hosted the 8th edition of the Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment and the 12th edition of the Merdeka Award Presentation Ceremony here today to celebrate excellent individuals and organisations that have contributed significantly to the nation’s growth, becoming beacons of inspiration to Malaysians everywhere.
This year, five young Malaysians received the prestigious 2021 Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment while four others were conferred the 2020 Merdeka Award.
2021 Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment
The Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment was introduced in 2012 to help young Malaysians build their expertise by undergoing a learning experience in an institution or organisation of international repute. The recipients will be provided with the necessary skills and expertise, expanding their capabilities to deliver exceptional advancements for the nation and society. The Grant is an extension of the Merdeka Award, which honours outstanding works and achievements that have made a lasting impact on the country and people. 
 The recipients of the 2021 Grant are:
  • Dr Aini Hasanah Abd Mutalib, 33: In-depth study on the occurrence, distribution and behaviour of small apes at the Kenyir Rainforest of Terengganu, using the passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) method.
  • Dr Wan Nor Fitri Wan Jaafar, 31: Research on cloning and stem cells in wildlife reproduction
  • Jessica Ooi Sui Ying, 31: Research revolves around paper-based devices for Colorimetric Detection of Ovarian Cancer Biomarker miRNA-665
  • Prof Madya Dr Nur Adlyka Ainul Annuar, 31: In-depth study on the heart of active galaxies in the universe
  • Ir Dr Freddy Tan Kheng Suan, 35: Design the next-generation on-board charger for electric vehicles using state-of-the-art wide bandgap technology.

The Grantees were presented with certificates at the Announcement and Presentation Ceremony by the Sultan of Perak Darul Ridzuan and Royal Patron and Chairman of the Merdeka Award Trust, His Royal Highness Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah Al-Maghfur-Lah.
In his welcome speech, President and Group Chief Executive Officer of PETRONAS and a Board Member of the Merdeka Award Trust, YM Datuk Tengku Muhammad Taufik, said, “The Merdeka Award Trust aims to cultivate a spirit of excellence, recognising the best of Malaysians minds and talents in the hope of transforming our society day by day, person by person. The Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment was introduced to nurture promising young Malaysians and support them in their journey of excellence. We have selected our Grant recipients this year with the full confidence that they will make the most of this opportunity to engage with the world’s renowned foremost experts in their respective fields, gain valuable insights for their research and bring their learnings back to Malaysia to further galvanise their respective industries and talent pools.”

President and Group Chief Executive Officer of PETRONAS and a member of the Merdeka Award Board of Trustees, YM Datuk Tengku Muhammad Taufik during his welcome speech
Recognising that Malaysia has a large pool of untapped potential, the number of chosen grantees has increased to five since 2019. To date, 24 Malaysians have received the Grant.
2020 Merdeka Award 

Four Malaysians individuals and organisations were crowned winners of the 2020 Merdeka Award 
Meanwhile, the winners of the 12th edition of the 2020 Merdeka Award include National Cancer Council (MAKNA) in the Education and Community category, South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP) in the Environment category, Professor Dr Ng Kwan Hoong in the Outstanding Scholastic Achievement category, and Suzanne Mooney in the Outstanding Contribution to the People of Malaysia category.
During the event, the 2020 Merdeka Award recipients were presented with trophies by the Royal Patron & Chairman of the Merdeka Award Trust, His Royal Highness Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah. The 2020 Merdeka Award official presentation ceremony had to be postponed last year due to the pandemic.
“This year, the Merdeka Award programme has a deeper and more significant meaning as it not only stands as a symbol of excellence but also represents much needed hope for our nation as we embark towards a brighter and better future together. We hope this recognition to outstanding Malaysians will further cultivate a culture of excellence and inspire future generations to create sustainable impact to society,” said Datuk Tengku Muhammad Taufik.
The Merdeka Award has recognised and awarded over 57 individuals and organisations. In total, the Trust, through the Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment and the Merdeka Award has empowered over 81 individuals and organisations, propelling them towards new paths, discoveries and exposure.
For more information about the Merdeka Award and Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment, please visit
About Merdeka Award Trust
Merdeka Award Trust was set up by PETRONAS, Shell Malaysia and ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Malaysia Inc on 27 August 2007. It was established to recognise and reward excellent individuals and organisations whose works and achievements have contributed to the nation's growth, inspiring greatness amongst Malaysians. The Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment, a complementary extension to the Merdeka Award, was established in 2012. It is conferred biannually to qualified Malaysians between the ages of 22 and 35, to engage in collaborative programmes at globally-renowned host institutions and organisations. The Grant offers successful candidates tailored financial support to realise a study, research or residency project abroad.  These projects can be in Education and Community, Environment as well as Health, Science and Technology.


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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