The Merdeka Award aims to promote thought leadership and innovation, foster a culture of excellence and encourage a worldview, thereby enhancing Malaysia’s standing as a dynamic, competitive 21st century global player in all key sectors from science and technology to the arts.
Launched by PETRONAS, ExxonMobil and Shell in 2007, the Merdeka Award is an enduring contribution to the people of Malaysia, demonstrating and renewing the commitment of the oil and gas industry to the growth and development of the country.
The Merdeka Award is so named to capture and commemorate the “Spirit of Merdeka” as demonstrated by the nation’s forefathers, which is about foresight, discipline, perseverance and self-sacrifice. It is where the true meaning of independence lies in the liberation of the mind and spirit – factors which foster the realisation of human potential and the pursuit of excellence.
The Founding Members of the Merdeka Award also hope that in commemorating this pioneering spirit, the Award will help strengthen the intellectual foundation and elements of civil society that will drive a nation’s economic and social progress.
The Merdeka Award is conferred on individuals and/or organisations – Malaysians as well as non-Malaysians – whose excellent work has made outstanding and lasting contributions to the nation and the people of Malaysia, in their respective fields. The focus is on achievements and not personalities, based on original, significant and sustained contribution to the country.
There are five (5) Award categories:
Education & Community
Health, Science & Technology
Outstanding Scholastic Achievement
Outstanding Contribution to the People of Malaysia (open only to Non-Malaysians)
Each award category carries a cash award of RM500,000 and comes with a trophy, a Work of Art and a certificate. Recipients are selected from a list of nominees on an annual basis. Since it was established in 2007, 34 individuals and two organisations have received the Merdeka Award.
For a full list of Merdeka Award recipients, please click here.
The Merdeka Award nomination and selection process is independent, objective and fair and administered by a Board of Trustees, Selection Committee and five (5) Nomination Committees. The tenure for members of the Selection and Nomination committees is three (3) years.
The Nomination Committee’s role is to identify, deliberate, shortlist and recommend candidates to the Selection Committee. There are five (5) committees, one for each category, with three (3) members in each of the committees except for Education & Community which has five (5) members.
The role of the 5-member Selection Committee is to deliberate the merits of the candidates put forward by the Nomination Committees and recommend the short-list to the Board of Trustees.
The Board, comprising representatives of the Founding Members as well as two (2) Independent Members, determines the final selection of the recipients. There may not be recipients in every category, every year. The decision must be unanimous and there is one (1) award for each category. The Award can be shared by as many as two (2) recipients.
For more about the Nomination and Selection Process and the roles of the different committees, please click here.
The recipients are announced each year in the month of Merdeka or thereafter, with the presentation taking place after that at the Merdeka Award Ceremony. The award presentation is made by the Royal Patron of the Merdeka Award Trust.
The Merdeka Award has several key initiatives, including:
The Merdeka Award Roundtables
The Merdeka Award Roundtables is an effort to inspire debate and discussion about key issues of interest to Malaysians. The aim of the Roundtables is to create opportunities that will inspire Malaysians to think about how they too can play a role in the development of our country.
The Roundtables feature leading figures from Malaysia’s corporate, academic and social spheres, coming together to discuss issues critical to the future of this nation. The discussion and debate of the topic through the Merdeka Award Roundtable bring to life the true spirit of Merdeka – the liberation of mind and spirit, and the pursuit of excellence.
The Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment
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/programmes at a selected, internationally-recognised host institution abroad. It is 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 the Recipient’s body of work and achievements.