Health, Science & Technology

An old person in a blue shirt and tie

Description automatically generated
Scientific Innovation in Palm Oil: A Personal Expedition
Born in Malacca in 1934, Tan Sri Ong is considered by many as a ‘father figure’ in the Malaysian palm oil industry largely due to his significant contributions in advocating and promoting the industry to the world.

Tan Sri Ong significantly contributed to dispelling the unfavourable narrative surrounding palm oil, leaving behind a lasting legacy that continues to bolster the palm oil industry and its impact on the Malaysian economy.

The eminent scientist, innovator and inventor has also conducted extensive research covering several aspects of palm oil; from its chemical composition, nutritional value, technical training and to its waste treatment. As a trailblazer in Malaysia's palm oil sector, he has opened doors for numerous scientists to further advance his efforts in championing the industry.

A few men in lab coats looking at flasks

Description automatically generated
For the love of chemistry
At an early age, Tan Sri Ong’s academic pursuit began with him challenging himself with chemistry, physics and mathematics during his secondary education at Malacca’s St. Francis Institution.

Excelling in academics, Tan Sri Ong continued his educational journey at the University of Malaya, graduating with a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours and later obtaining an MSc. His profound passion for chemistry led to numerous accolades, including a gold medal for chemistry. In 1959, he commenced his career as a lecturer at the University of Malaya, paving the way for an illustrious journey in academia.

A Fulbright-Hays Fellow at MIT and a PhD holder from the University of London King’s College, Tan Sri Ong's dedication to science led to numerous groundbreaking research articles and two co-authored books.

A group of people in graduation attire

Description automatically generated
A group of people posing for a photo

Description automatically generated
Silencing palm oil naysayers through research
Tan Sri Ong obtained his first of 15 patents in palm oil research from Britain in 1974. His research covered several aspects of palm oil; from its chemical composition, nutritional value, technical training and to its waste treatment.

Tan Sri Ong was also a co-researcher in the isolation of tocotrienols, an antioxidant which has beneficial effects on brain neurons, has anti-cancer properties, and lowers the levels of bad cholesterol.

His patents in lipids research and palm oil innovations, including the pioneering concept of converting palm oil to biodiesel in 1981, propelled Malaysia into a global leader in biofuel production.

Tan Sri Ong's leadership faced a pivotal test when countering the Anti-Palm Oil Campaign by the American Soybean Association in 1987. Undeterred, he utilised research, scientific evidence and advisory roles to demonstrate the health benefits of palm oil, ultimately compelling the ASA to call for a truce in 1989. Today, palm olein stands as a nutritious and cost-effective alternative to olive oil.

Leaving a remarkable legacy of innovation
Tan Sri Ong's contributions extend beyond scientific discoveries; he founded the Malaysian Invention and Design Society (MINDS) in 1987, encouraging creativity and innovation.

In addition to receiving the esteemed titles of Fellow from The International Society of Professional Engineers in Los Angeles and King's College, London, Tan Sri Ong's awards, such as the Officer of The International Order of Merit of the Inventors (IOMI), recognition from the Polish Union of Association of Inventors and Rationalizators (PZSWIR), and the Palm Oil Industry Leadership Award (PILA), collectively honour a lifetime devoted to revolutionising the palm oil industry.

A person holding a test tube

Description automatically generated

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.

We use cookies to enhance your browsing experience and for analytical purposes. By continuing to browse, you are deemed to accept our use of cookies. Learn more about disabling cookies and our Privacy Statement here.