How One Engineer Found His Calling In Safeguarding Mother Nature 
Initially an electrical engineer by profession, Gurmit Singh is a prominent Malaysian environmentalist and social activist. During his 20 years as the President of the Environmental Protection Society Malaysia, the organisation became one of Malaysia’s most vocal and visible environmental bodies, highlighting numerous environmental concerns through the media, government agencies, campaigns, and awareness environmental education via public talks. 

In 1985, Gurmit established the Centre for Environment, Technology and Development, Malaysia (CETDEM), which he chairs to this day. The independent, non-profit organisation is committed to improving environmental quality through the appropriate use of technology and sustainable development. 

Finding a calling in life 
Despite being born during the Japanese occupation of Malaya, Gurmit recalled his early childhood in Georgetown, Penang as unremarkable, save for a brief episode in which he was sent back to his father’s hometown in Punjab, India, when he was three years old.  

Due to economic and social difficulties, Gurmit returned to Malaya in 1948 and started his education at the Lutheran English School and later continued at the Anglo-Chinese School (ACS), where he proved to be a brilliant student. 

Getting into university was a challenging time in Gurmit’s life and although he struggled academically, he found his true calling as a future activist when he was elected to the council of the University of Malaya Students Union. This opportunity allowed him to hone his leadership skills and develop an interest in championing for the rights of others. 


From electrical engineering to activism 
For five years, Gurmit worked for the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia as an electrical assistant works engineer, during which he was able to meet and share ideas with other researchers who specialised in different scientific disciplines.  

In his spare time, Gurmit involved himself in various social organisations with other progressive-minded individuals, prompting him to take a greater interest in academic freedom, human rights and most significantly, environmental affairs.  

The birth of an environmental activist 
In 1974, Gurmit became the Founder President of the Environmental Protection Society Malaysia (EPSM), serving as its public face and spokesperson, and in 1985, he established an independent, non-profit organisation - Centre for Environment, Technology and Development, Malaysia (CETDEM). 

Gurmit continued his activism throughout the 1990s, serving on the Environmental Quality Council, Malaysia, the Malaysian Climate Change Group (MCCG) and the Regional Coordinator of the Climate Action Network Southeast Asia (CANSEA).  

An enduring commitment to environmental activism 
Although he is already 75 years old, Gurmit Singh has yet to retire from his cause for Mother Nature as he still sits on the Board of Directors for CETDEM as Chairman and serves in several other advisory roles.  

Gurmit stresses, “Issues on the impact of climate change, water stresses, land management, unsustainable management of all resources and inadequate political commitment continue to be a problem. At the individual level, we can play our part to reduce our ecological footprints by learning and understanding how it can be done.” 


The information in this award recipient's profile is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the time the award was presented. Any subsequent changes, updates, or developments in the individual's life or achievements may not be reflected in this profile. 

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