Assalamualaikum Warahmahtullahi Wabarakatuh, Salam Sejahtera dan Salam Satu Malaysia.
Duli Yang Maha Mulia Pemangku Raja Perak Darul Ridzuan Raja Dr Nazrin Shah Ibni Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah;
Pengerusi Lembaga Pemegang Amanah Anugerah Merdeka;
Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Raja Puan Besar Perak Tuanku Zara Salim;
Tuanku, Patik terlebih dahulu menjunjung kasih di atas limpah berkenan Tuanku berdua berangkat ke majlis ini.
Sesungguhnya keberangkatan Tuanku sebagai Pengerusi Lembaga Amanah Anugerah Merdeka bukan sahaja akan menambah seri lagi majlis ini tetapi akan menambah nilai prestij Anugerah Merdeka.
Lembaga Pemegang Amanah Anugerah Merdeka;
Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan;
Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Dato’ Shamsul Azhar Abbas;
Presiden dan Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif Petronas,
Mr. Iain Lo;
Pengerusi, Shell Malaysia,
Mr. Hunter Farris;
Pengerusi, Exxon Mobil Subsidiari Malaysia,
Tuan Tuan Yang Terutama;
Tuan Tuan dan Puan Puan yang saya hormati sekalian,
CONTRIBUTION TO THE NATION
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I am delighted to be here at the Dewan Filharmonik concert hall this evening to present the prestigious 2013 Merdeka Award. This is the fifth time I have presided over this event. Each year I am impressed by the breadth and depth of talent here in Malaysia; and I am reminded of high ideals that the Award itself aspires to.
2. The Merdeka Award was established by three of the world’s leading energy companies. It aims to foster a culture of excellence; to show us what is possible when aspiration is matched by commitment, and passion by dedication.
3. It is an award which measures not just individual achievement, but the impact of that achievement on wider society. Merdeka Award recipients are distinguished by their professional and personal excellence, but also by their contribution to the country.
4. And so I am delighted to note that the recipients being honoured this evening – Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Utama Arshad Ayub, Raja Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Utama Muhammad Alias Raja Muhammad Ali, Dr Lim Boo Liat, Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Yahya Awang and Emeritus Professor Dato’ Dr Lam Sai Kit – boast a combined legacy that has benefitted generations of Malaysians, past and present. Their achievements – in education, rural reform, conservation, healthcare and medical research – have made a significant contribution to our nation’s story.
5. When my father, the late Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak bin Hussein, wanted to turn Mara College into institution focused on developing the talent the country needed, he entrusted Tan Sri Arshad with the task. Today, its alumni represent Malaysia in the four corners of the world. Tan Sri Arshad has shaped Malaysia’s education landscape, developing professional education, and pursuing education reforms and innovation that have opened up a world of opportunity to students in Malaysia.
6. When we knew we could no longer rely on rubber and tin as core exports, we turned to palm oil, and relied on the contributions of experts like Raja Alias, who not only helped develop the commodity, but made a difference to the lives of so many rural communities by establishing settlements under the FELDA schemes.
7. When we began to realise the true value of our natural environment, we depended on the expertise of researchers such as Dr Lim. Today, aged 87, Dr Lim continues to mentor both local and foreign young scientists in research. He remains an honorary adviser to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, working with Pahang state government, training wildlife officers and assisting postgraduate students. Dr Lim has made outstanding contributions to the conservation of our biological diversity, our understanding and control of vector-borne diseases, and the protection of our natural heritage.
8. When we aspired to build a world-class medical system, we looked to authorities such as Tan Sri Yahya, who pioneered cardiothoracic surgery and education in Malaysia, and remains a role model – and an inspiration – for aspiring doctors and surgeons. Tan Sri Yahya also played an instrumental role in the establishment of the National Heart Institute (IJN).
9. Nor is medical excellence confined to our borders. Professor Lam has become one of the most influential figures in medical virology in South East Asia. His research in dengue is recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and his involvement in emerging diseases has led to the discovery of new viruses in the region.
10. These five gentlemen, and the teams who worked alongside them, have left their mark on Malaysia’s history. But they have also laid the foundations for future success.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
11. Since its founding in 2007, the Merdeka Award has recognised 22 exceptional individuals and 2 organisations. Each serve as role models and for the Post-Merdeka generation to emulate.
12. Our hopes, and our prospects, rest on the new generation of young Malaysians who will steer our nation on to greater things.
13. Since Independence, sustained rapid economic growth has raised Malaysia from an agricultural and commodity-based economy to become one of the world’s top trading nations.
14. Our sound economic performance has helped improve the quality of life for Malaysians, supporting huge advances in education, health care, infrastructure, housing and public amenities. But as we look beyond developed nation status, we must focus our energies on building a sustainable source of talent: those who will carry forward the momentum that began five decades ago in Merdeka Square.
15. It is my hope that the Merdeka Award will continue to inspire younger generations to build upon the legacy of our forefathers.
16. We have come a long way. Let us make a commitment together to the continued development of our nation. Let us put aside our differences, and look instead at what we share. Let us work together with mutual respect and responsibility, and focus on our common destiny. And let us draw our inspiration from the recipients of the 2013 Merdeka Award.
17. Once again, I wish to thank Tan Sri Arshad, Tan Sri Raja Alias, Dr Lim, Tan Sri Yahya and Professor Dato’ Dr. Lam for their outstanding achievements, and their contribution to our nation. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the Merdeka Award Trust, and its founders PETRONAS, ExxonMobil and Shell, who continue to encourage Malaysians in their pursuit of excellence.
Thank you and congratulations to all.
Wabillataufik Walhidayah Wassalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.