Monday the 24th of November 2008 was a very special night for me. Although I have generally avoided talking about my work on this blog, I feel the need to mark this occasion.
At a very special function, which was held at the base of the famous KLCC Twin Towers and which was attended and presided over by the Prime Minister of my country, awards were given out under several categories for outstanding contributions to the country. This was a new national award that was launched last year in conjunction with the 50th year of Independence. The very first inaugural award recipients were named at this function.
There were 5 categories. The first for Community and Education was won by a well known scholar who studied poverty and influenced the development of the country’s education system. Another category was for Science and Technology and that was jointly won by a) the medical research team that risked their lives during a fatal disease outbreak which led to them discovering a new disease and b) to a doctor,researcher and lecturer who has greatly influenced diabetes research and treatment in the country. The award for Economic Contributions was given to a gentleman who discovered the way to greatly increase the yield and profitability of the oil palm crop which became a major source of income for the country. There was no award winner this year for the category for Scholastic Achievement.
The final category was for the Environment and it was awarded to the organisation that I work for. I was one of 10 representatives and supporters that were invited to receive the award on behalf of the organisation. It was a great experience. The award recognised the persistent effort of the organisation for more than 14 years which eventually led to the protection of a very large tract of wilderness forest. The award clearly belongs also to all the volunteers and partners that helped along the way.
Standing with all the other award recipients was very memorable as I have a deep respect for all of them (and especially for the medical research team) and therefore felt incredibly blessed to be counted amongst them. The award comes with a RM500,000 cash prize which will be a great help to us as we continue to try to get adjacent forests protected as well. But for me, it has been by far a most welcome encouragement to myself and to all the staff and volunteers that have given their hearts to the cause of conservation of our country’s natural heritage.
I had a ball. I am now a little hung-over from the post-adrenaline rush. But the work must now go on. Nose back on the grindstone!