Press Releases

Merdeka Award For Five Outstanding Malaysians

For excellence and lasting contributions to the people of Malaysia

Wednesday, October 16, 2013:

The Board of Trustees of the Merdeka Award Trust announced Wednesday that it has accorded five eminent Malaysians the 2013 Merdeka Award, for their outstanding and lasting contributions in their respective fields to the nation and the people of Malaysia.

This announcement is the culmination of an extensive and exhaustive search both within Malaysia and internationally; a search for excellence which we hope will inspire and help Malaysians to be competitive in an increasingly borderless world.

Above and beyond the accolade and the substantial cash award that comes with it, it is also our hope that the Merdeka Award will earn its recipients a place in history as individuals and organisations which have truly gone beyond the call of duty. They have, in the course of their work, demonstrated the true Spirit of Merdeka - that of the liberation of mind and spirit and the pursuit of excellence.

The five 2013 Merdeka Award recipients are:

In the Education & Community category, there are two recipients this year. 
 
The first Joint Recipient of the 2013 Merdeka Award in the Education & Community Category is Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Utama Arshad Ayub for his outstanding contribution in shaping Malaysia’s education landscape through the development of professional education and education reforms and innovation that have resulted in education becoming more accessible to Malaysians.
 
Tan Sri Arshad is among the foremost education visionaries in Malaysia. He laid the foundation for Institut Teknologi MARA (now UiTM) and led one of the most successful education initiatives in the country. 

These early efforts were original and outstanding, and have since been introduced and emulated by many other educational institutions in the country.

The second Joint Recipient of the 2013 Merdeka Award in the Education & Community Category is Raja Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Utama Muhammad Alias for his outstanding contribution to rural development and rural reform through organising successful land settlement projects (FELDA) for the many landless, rural population in Malaysia.
 
Raja Alias helmed FELDA for more than three decades, crystalising the vision of then Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, “to provide land to the landless and jobs for the jobless”. FELDA has since been recognised as a key agency in the effort to eradicate rural poverty in Malaysia and its model has been applied in other countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia and nations in Africa.

The 2013 Merdeka Award recipient in the Environment Category is Dr Lim Boo Liat for his outstanding contribution to the conservation of Malaysia’s biological diversity through the study, understanding and control of vector-borne diseases and the relationship between diseases and the environment; and for advocating the protection of our natural heritage.
 
Dr Lim, a pioneer in the field of zoology in Malaysia, is regarded as a leading authority in the research and conservation of Malaysia’s biological diversity through his six decades of scientific research and environmental advocacy.
 
He has made significant contributions to the publication of the Red List of Mammals of Peninsular Malaysia, considered to be the first national Red List carried out by any country in the world.

The 2013 Merdeka Award recipient in the Health, Science & Technology Category is Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Yahya Awang for his outstanding contribution to pioneering the development of clinical research and cardiac surgery in Malaysia and for his instrumental role in the establishment of the National Heart Institute (IJN).
 
Dr Yahya played a significant and pioneering role in the development of cardiac surgery in Malaysia, at a time when this area of study was at its infancy in Malaysia and the country had many patients in dire need of treatment. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the National Heart Institute, or IJN – Institut Jantung Negara.
 
He successfully performed the first heart transplant in Malaysia, paving the way for heart surgery to become accessible to more Malaysians.

The 2013 Merdeka Award recipient in the Outstanding Scholastic Achievement category is Emeritus Professor Dato’ Dr Lam Sai Kit for his outstanding contribution to scholarly research and development in medical virology and emerging infectious diseases including dengue.
 
Professor Lam is among the most influential figures in medical virology in South East Asia, notably for his research in dengue that is recognised worldwide by the World Health Organisation.
 
His 40 years of research into dengue, a global public health problem in developing countries, has led to the reduction of morbidity and mortality of this disease, and contributed to the disease management.
 
Professor Lam was part of a 15-member team from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya that isolated the Nipah virus as a cause of viral encephalitis among pig farmers in the country, helping to contain the outbreak. The Nipah Virus Encephalitis Investigation Team was conferred the Merdeka Award in 2008.

There is no award this year in the category of Outstanding Contribution to the People of Malaysia.

Collectively, these individuals have positively impacted numerous lives, not just in Malaysia, but also in the region and around the world, and made a significant difference to our understanding and appreciation of the world we live in today. 
 
They are Malaysians who embody the Spirit of Merdeka and we hope their significant contributions - which brings our tally of Merdeka Award recipients to 22 individuals and two organisations - will continue to inspire Malaysians in the years to come.
 
The 2013 Merdeka Award recipients will receive their awards from the Patron of the Merdeka Award, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak, at the 2013 Merdeka Award Presentation to be held at a later date.
 
Issued by:
THE MERDEKA AWARD SECRETARIAT


ABOUT THE 2013 MERDEKA AWARD RECIPIENTS
 
YBhg Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Utama Arshad Ayub
2013 Merdeka Award Joint Recipient in the Education & Community category
Citation by Ms Rikke Jarvad Netterstrom, Member of the Merdeka Award Education & Community Nomination Committee
 
Tan Sri Arshad is among the foremost education visionaries in Malaysia. He laid the foundation for the Institut Teknologi MARA (now UiTM) and led one of the most successful education initiatives in the country. Tan Sri Arshad served as the first Director of Institut Teknologi MARA which he led with courage and determination from 1965-1975.
 
He played a critical role in UiTM’s formative years by nurturing it with concepts and programmes then unknown and explored in the higher education sector in Malaysia. Planning for years ahead, Tan Sri Arshad was the first in the country to introduce courses in applied science, mass communication, business management, architecture, public administration and hotel catering at the tertiary level. Such courses were unheard of in the 1960’s.

YM Raja Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Utama Muhammad Alias
2013 Merdeka Award Joint Recipient in the Education & Community category
Citation by YBhg Dato’ Faridah Merican, Member of the Merdeka Award Education & Community Nomination Committee
 

Raja Alias helmed FELDA for more than three decades from April 1966 as Deputy Chairman until his retirement from the post of Group Chairman in June 2001. During his time at FELDA, Raja Alias was able to crystallise the vision of then Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak, “to provide land to the landless and jobs for the jobless”.
 
Over a span of 35 years, Raja Alias was closely involved with efforts aimed at developing FELDA into a well-integrated corporation with operations in all aspects of the oil palm/rubber industry from commercial cultivation right up to the value-added stage of palm oil/rubber refining and manufacture of consumer products derived from palm oil/rubber.  FELDA has since been recognised as a key agency in the effort to eradicate rural poverty in Malaysia and its model has been applied in other countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia and nations in Africa.

Dr Lim Boo Liat
2013 Merdeka Award Recipient in the Environment category
Citation by Madam Elizabeth Cardosa, Member of the Merdeka Award Environment Nomination Committee
 
Dr Lim Boo Liat is regarded as a leading authority in the conservation of Malaysia’s biological diversity through his six decades of scientific research and advocacy in protecting the nation’s rich biodiversity.
 
Dr Lim is a pioneer in the field of zoology in Malaysia. He has dedicated his professional life to working on bio-medical research on small animals in relation to zoonotic diseases. In recognition of his distinguished service to the science of mammalogy, Dr. Lim was awarded an Honorary Membership to The American Society of Mammalogists (ASM). This makes him the 4th Asian, and the first South-East Asian, to become an Honorary Member of the ASM, an award that dates back to 1919.
 
YBhg Tan Sri Dato' Dr Yahya Awang
2013 Merdeka Award Recipient in the Health, Science and Technology category
Citation by Associate Professor Dr George Lee Eng Geap, Member of the Merdeka Award Health, Science & Technology Nomination Committee
 
Dr Yahya played a significant and pioneering role in the development of cardiac surgery in Malaysia. He spent 25 years at the General Hospital Kuala Lumpur and subsequently at the National Heart Institute (IJN) as Head of Cardiac Surgery. Over a span of 30 years as a Cardiac Surgeon, Dr Yahya has performed no less than 5,000 open heart surgeries and trained more than 50 Cardiac Surgeons.
 
He successfully performed the first heart transplant in Malaysia on 18 December 1997. Dr Yahya was instrumental in training cardiac surgeons and cardiac paramedics to meet the needs of the nation. Dr Yahya, together with colleagues, pioneered the establishment of the National Heart Institute (IJN). The establishment of the Cardiac Surgery Research Unit at IJN has put Malaysia on the regional map as an excellent training centre for cardiac surgery and has attracted trainees from Indonesia, Japan, Yemen, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

YBhg Emeritus Professor Dato’ Dr Lam Sai Kit
2013 Merdeka Award Recipient in the Outstanding Scholastic Achievement category
Citation by Professor Emeritus Dr Yong Hoi Sen, Member of the Merdeka Award Outstanding Scholastic Achievement Nomination Committee
 
Professor Lam is among the most influential figures in medical virology in South East Asia. His research in dengue is recognised worldwide as well as by the World Health Organisation. In recent years, his involvement in emerging diseases has led to the discovery of new viruses in the region, and the isolation of the Nipah virus and Tioman virus has made his team internationally recognised.
 
Professor Lam’s research on the vector-borne disease, dengue, is recognised worldwide and has culminated in many awards, both nationally and internationally. Based on his outstanding contribution, he was awarded the Knight of the National Order of Merit, France (April 2006), which is one of the most prestigious honours conferred by the French government for his prominent role in medical research and scientific cooperation.

ABOUT THE MERDEKA AWARD
 
The Merdeka Award was established by PETRONAS, Shell and Exxonmobil 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 & Community, Environment, Health, Science &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 recipients are selected by the Merdeka Award Board of Trustees.
 
The Award categories reflect focus areas that are regarded as instrumental to the overall growth and development of a nation. One Award is made for each of the five categories above. In the event that in a given year, two individuals and/or organisations are deemed to be equally deserving of recognition, the Award will be shared. The Merdeka Award recipient receives a certificate, a trophy and a cash award of RM500,000.
 
Through the Merdeka Award’s other initiatives like the Merdeka Award Roundtables and the Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment, 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.  To date, the Merdeka Award has been conferred on 22 individuals and 2 organisations.
 
For further information, please contact:
The Merdeka Award Secretariat I 03 23310952
 
AllAboutBrands Sdn Bhd
Sue D’Cruz I 019 321 3607 I suedcruz@gmail.com
Yap Bee Lee I 012 303 0163 I yapblee08@gmail.com
Marina Abdullah I 012 206 3670 I marinaannabdullah@gmail.com
 
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