KUALA LUMPUR: Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood, the driving force behind the setting up of Mercy Malaysia, is one of the six recipients of the prestigious 2015 Merdeka Award.
She was among the names announced by Sultan of Perak Sultan Dr Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, the royal patron of the Merdeka Trust, here on Thursday.
Two recipients share the award for the Environment category, one of five categories. The awards will be presented before the end of the year.
Sultan Dr Nazrin also announced two young scientists for the Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment.
Dr Jemilah, the recipient for the Education and Community category, is hailed for her contribution to the development of humanitarian and international emergency relief.
Mercy Malaysia, which she founded, is one of the first nationally-grown humanitarian organisations that works both at home and internationally.
She currently heads the World Humanitarian Summit Secretariat based in the United Nations in New York.
“The Merdeka Award aims to continue to foster excellence by inspiring more individuals and organisations to pursue innovation and nurture creativity, talent and entrepreneurial or competitive spirit,” said Sultan Dr Nazrin during the announcement.
In its eighth year running, the award is given to Malaysians and non-Malaysians for their outstanding contribution to the nation.
For the Environment category, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Emeritus Professor and guest scholar Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Mohamad is recognised for his efforts that have led to greater understanding in taxonomy.
He has named a new genus of plant and 18 new plant species.
The other joint-recipient for the Environment category is researcher and diplomat Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Zakri Abdul Hamid, for his contribution to biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Dr Zakri is science adviser to the Prime Minister.
Unesco Science Laureate (2005) Prof Datin Paduka Dr Khatijah Mohamad Yusoff is named the winner for the Health, Science and Technology category for providing a better understanding and diagnosis of the contagious and fatal viruses in poultry and the study of the potential of virus in combating cancer cells.
Dr Khatijah, Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences dean, is internationally recognised for her groundbreaking work in identifying and developing a novel antiviral peptide against the Avian Influenza Virus H9N2.
The recipient for the Outstanding Scholastic Achievements category is Universiti Malaya’s Centre for Ionic Liquids founder and head Prof Dr Mohd Ali Hashim, for his research in separation processes and waste water treatment and role in the setting up of the centre.
Vice-president for Species Conservation at the Wildlife Conservation Society based in New York Dr Elizabeth Lesley Bennett is the recipient for the Outstanding Contribution to the People of Malaysia category, for conservation and management of wetlands habitats and those of endangered wildlife in Malaysia.
She came to Malaysia in 1984 to undertake a research project on the proboscis monkey in Sarawak and later focused on the conservation and management of wetlands habitats in Sarawak.
Each Merdeka Award recipient will receive a trophy, a work of art by Malaysian artist Latiff Mohidin and cash RM500,000.
Since it was established in 2007, 28 individuals and two organisations had received the award.
The Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment goes to Chua Ling Ling, 26, and Dr Mohd Sukor Su’ait, 30.