(File pix) Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah (fifth from right) with recipients of the prestigious 2017 Merdeka Awards last night. Pix by Yazit Razali

KUALA LUMPUR: Six distinguished individuals who have made outstanding and lasting contributions to the nation and the people of Malaysia were recipients of the prestigious 2017 Merdeka Awards here last night.

All six recipients were selected from five categories, namely Education and Community; Environment; Health, Science and Technology; Outstanding Scholastic Achievement and Outstanding Contribution to the People of Malaysia.

The awards were presented by the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Shah while also present at the ceremony was Raja Permaisuri Perak, Tuanku Zara Salim.

The 2017 Merdeka Award was first presented to Datuk Dr Abdul Halim Ismail, 78, in the Education and Community category for his outstanding contributions and pivotal role in establishing the first Islamic Bank in Malaysia in 1983, the Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad (BIMB).

The next recipient was former Chairman and President of World (WWF) Malaysia, Datuk Seri Tengku Dr Zainal Adlin Tengku Mahamood, 77, in the Environment category.

The Kelantan-born environmentalist, now Chairman of Sabah Tourism Board of Trustees, was selected for his outstanding contribution to wildlife and forest conservation in Malaysia and the region through his impressive fieldwork, education, advocacy, policy and international cooperation.

The category of Health, Science and Technology saw two outstanding individuals, Professor Dr Balbir Singh Mohan, 62, and Dr Timothy William, 47, being awarded with the 2017 Merdeka Award.

Dr Balbir Singh was selected for his discovery and pioneering work on a new course of human malaria, ‘Plasmodium knowlesi’, which changed the understanding of malaria and the way infection is managed in the country and globally.

Dr Timothy was awarded for his contributions to the effective treatment of the fatal zoonotic disease and improving the way of managing the infection.

For the Outstanding Scholastic Achievement category, University Malaya Professor Dr Masjuki Hassan, 64, received the award for his scholarly research in engineering and energy science, as well as for his instrumental role in the research and development of biofuel and other sources of efficient energy and automotive engines.

The sixth and final recipient of the 2017 Merdeka Award was an expert on Southeast Asia, Professor Dr Anthony Milner, 72, in the category of Outstanding Contribution to the People of Malaysia.

The Australian-born academician who specialises in Malay and Malaysian history, was selected for his excellent research and education in Malaysian history that shaped and promoted the understanding of the nation’s identity, heritage and culture, as well as his role in fostering international cooperation.

Recipients of the 2017 Merdeka Awards took home a certificate of recognition, a Merdeka Award trophy, monetary reward and Merdeka Award work of art.

Established by the oil and gas giant in Malaysia, Petronas, ExxonMobil and Shell on Aug 27, 2007, the award recognises and rewards Malaysians and non-Malaysians who have made outstanding and lasting contributions to the country and its people.

To date, 44 individuals, including this year’s recipients, as well as two organisations, have been presented with the Merdeka Award. -- Bernama

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