KOTA KINABALU: Seventeen portrait paintings and illustrations from the Petronas Art Collection are currently on display at Sabah Art Gallery here, capturing the individual qualities of Merdeka Award recipients and honouring their dedication and commitment to society.
Specially brought to Kota Kinabalu by Galeri Petronas, from its gallery at KLCC, Kuala Lumpur, The Merdeka Award: Celebrating the Culture of Excellence Exhibition is open to the public from September 21 to November 9.
Assistant Minister of Local Government and Housing George Hiew Vun Zin represented Deputy Chief Minister cum Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr Jaujan Sambakong in gracing the opening ceremony of the exhibition yesterday.
Launched in August 2007, the Merdeka Award was established by Petronas, ExxonMobil and Shell. It is Malaysia’s most prestigious award for excellence, conferred to outstanding individuals and organizations that embody the ‘Spirit of Merdeka’ in their pursuit of excellence.
Jaujan hoped that Sabahans, especially the younger generation, would be inspired by the Merdeka Award recipients to pursue excellence, creativity and having a global outlook that could contribute to the progress of the State and country.
He said Datuk Seri Tengku Dr Zainal Adlin Tengku Mahamood, the recipient of Merdeka Award 2017, was selected to receive the award for the Environment category owing to his contribution for the conservation of wildlife, environment and forests in Sabah through his role in the Sabah Tourism Board and Sabah Parks, as well as his involvement in developing Danum Valley as a significant scientific study in the region.
Another award recipient last year, Dr Timothy William, who serves at the Infectious Diseases Unit at Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), has found an effective treatment against malaria, he said.
“The stories behind the recipients show the important role Sabah plays in nation development, not only in tourism, arts and culture, but also in the aspect of science, health and environment.
“Sabah has become a driver in encouraging the development of science, marine, environment, forestry and wildlife.”
The artworks displayed feature a variety of artistic expressions and styles.
The artists – Jaafar Taib, Dato’ Azman Yusof, Mohamad Hj Hassan, Samsuddin Mohamed, Tang Yeok Kang, Loh Bok Lai, Jeganathan Ramachandram, Azman Othman, Mohd Nasir Baharudin, Amirudin Ariffin, Arif Fauzan Othman, Azad Daniel Haris, Gan Chin Lee, Hairani Mohammad, Long Thien Shih, Rosli Mat, Jeffry Lim, Nazmi Raman, M Amin Razak, Harun Fadzillah M Tajudin, Nelson Roche and Khairul Azwan – pushed their creative boundaries in producing the portraits that captured the personalities of the Merdeka Award recipients, whose remarkable deeds have contributed to shaping Malaysia’s intellectual, economic and cultural climate.
Since the award was first presented in 2008, a total of 51 individuals and two organizations have been honored in five categories, namely Education and Community, Environment, Health, Science and Technology, Outstanding Scholastic Achievement and Outstanding Contribution to the People of Malaysia.
Among them are Emeritus Professor Ungku Abdul Aziz, the late Tun Fatimah Hashim, the late Tan Sri PG Lim, Dato’ Dr Kenneth Yeang, Datin Paduka Mother Mangalam, Hassan Muthalib, Emeritus Professor Tan Sri Datuk Dr Khoo Kay Kim and Professor Dr Rajah Rasiah.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Galeri Petronas will organize a series of art appreciation programmes which include a masterclass with Professor Dr Baharuddin Arus of Universiti Malaysia Sabah, as well as art workshops with members of the Sabah Visual Art Society.
An indigenous Temuan tribe youth, Shahar Koyok, a recipient of the 2017 Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment, will also be making a special appearance, in which he will be sharing his experiences as a resident at the National Art Gallery of Australia.
Also present at the event were Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datu Rosmadi Datu Sulai, Sabah Cultural Board chairman Tuan Haji Ismaily Bongsu, Sabah Cultural Board general manager William Baya, Sabah Art Gallery director Jennifer Linggi, Petronas Sabah and Labuan regional office head Rokiah Sulaiman and Galeri Petronas director Intan Razak.