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Merdeka Award 2013 winners announced

KUALA LUMPUR: Five Malaysians were announced as recipients of the prestigious Merdeka Award 2013 by the Merdeka Award Trust for their outstanding contributions towards the advancement of the nation.

Those honoured were Institut Teknologi Mara pioneer-founder Tan Sri Arshad Ayub, former Felda chairman Raja Tan Sri Muhammad Alias Muhammad Ali, zoologist Dr Lim Boo Liat, National Heart Institute (IJN) pioneer-founder Tan Sri Dr Yahya Awang and virologist Prof Datuk Dr Lam Sai Kit.

The recipients were awarded a Merdeka Award trophy, a Merdeka art work by renowned local artist Latiff Mohidin and RM500,000 each.

In his speech, board of trustees chairman Raja Dr Nazrin Shah, the Raja Muda of Perak, said the individuals were selected following an extensive process which began in January.

“Each year, the award is conferred on individuals and organisations whose excellent work and achievements make an outstanding impact on the nation and its people,  he said.

He also expressed hope that the achievements of the recipients would inspire fellow Malaysians, particularly youth, to strive for the betterment of the nation as a whole.

Arshad was described as a visionary who helped set up Mara (now UiTM).

Raja Muhammad Alias, who helmed Felda for more than three decades, was honoured for his contribution to rural development and reforms.

Raja Muhammad Alias, said Raja Dr Nazrin, helped crystalise the vision of former Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein  “to provide land to the landless and jobs for the jobless , and turned Felda into a global player with over 800,000 ha of oil palm.

Dr Lim, who is responsible for nation  first Red List of Mammals in Peninsular Malaysia, was chosen for his contribution to the conservation of the country  biological diversity and six decades of scientific work.

Dr Yahya, a pioneer in heart surgery and the first doctor to perform heart transplant surgery here, was honoured for his contribution to the medical field.

He helped to train 50 out of the nation  57 heart surgeons, and his vision has since seen over a million heart patients treated at IJN since its founding in 1992.

Dr Lam was recognised for his contributions towards scholastic achievements by becoming one of the most influential figures in medical virology in the region.

He was also part of the 15-man team of University Malaya  medicine faculty that helped identify the deadly Nipah virus.

Merdeka Award secretariat executive director Joseph Edwin said patron Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak would present the awards to recipients in December.