KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 11 – The road to success is rarely a straight line. Each and every one of us deal with a different set of bumps and challenges in our pursuit to be the best that we can be.

But when it comes to finding that solution to address the pressing needs of current times, it all begins with an idea. The challenge however lies in realising those ideas into impactful solutions through research and development, commercialisation and implementation. To help address some of the challenges currently faced by young researchers, the Merdeka Award Trust organised the Merdeka Talk Series.

This one-day masterclass brought together renowned Merdeka Award Laureates, Merdeka Award Grant recipients and young Malaysian researchers from various disciplines to participate in knowledge sharing and discourse that would provide valuable insights to support these young researchers in advancing their work.

The Merdeka Talk Series programme fits the aspirations of the Merdeka Award programmes that aim to promote thought leadership, innovation and foster a culture of excellence to enhance Malaysia’s standing as a dynamic and competitive global player in various key industries. The Talk Series’ objective is to provide a platform to encourage the exchange of ideas, promote networking and inspire young Malaysians.

The session started with a talk on “Stories That Sell – How to Tell Stories That Work for You” by 2018 Merdeka Award Laureate, Hassan Muthalib. Hassan, who is well known as the “Father of Malaysian Animation”, is a well-respected film director and critic who pioneered Malaysian animation with works such as the Hikayat Sang Kancil and Arnab Yang Sombong.

During his talk, Hassan related his storytelling ways in film and animation to deliver the bigger message, and how mastering the art of storytelling can help in communicating and selling ideas.

He added, “I hope I have given some inspiration to young Malaysians based on my own experience and also from the industry that will help you in whatever you are going to do. Although what you are doing is something very specialised, it must be relatable for the common man. Ultimately, you have to ask yourself, what benefit it is to the community and to the nation”.

The second presenter, 2010 Merdeka Award Laureate Distinguished Professor Datuk Dr Harith Ahmad, talked about “Undertaking Effective Research That Can Lead to Commercialisation”. The talk delved further into the declining trend in the commercialisation rates of research and development (R&D) activities and how to address this from an industrial perspective.

“Academic Research is defined as a process of collecting, analyzing and interpreting information to answer questions or solve a problem. To qualify as good research, the process must have certain characteristics and properties. It must, as far as possible, be controlled, rigorous, systematic, valid and verifiable, empirical and critical”, said Datuk Dr Harith Ahmad.

The session ended with a panel discussion with 2009 Merdeka Award Laureate Professor Datuk Dr Halimaton Hamdan, and 2013 Merdeka Award Grant recipient, Professor Dr Abhimanyu Veerakumarasivam on “Common Challenges Faced by Young Researchers and How to Overcome Them”. The session was moderated by 2018 Merdeka Award Grant recipient, Dr Edison Lee Tian Khoon.

Prof. Datuk Dr Halimaton said: “During my time, the trend is to do your research yourself but now it has changed. Emerging trends and technologies now require research to be conducted via collaboration. You have to be aware of the current situation. Go out and observe what people are doing because it will broaden you mind and you will think to a bigger extend and look at the requirements of the nation”.

“For me, as thinkers we should get involved so that you widen your horizon. So live in the moment. Forget the past, and seize this moment where you can do amazing things”, said Prof. Dr Abhimanyu.

The Merdeka Talk Series was held ahead of the announcement of the 2019 Merdeka Award Grant for International Attachment recipients. This Grant is given to qualified Malaysians up to the age of 35, across various disciplines, ranging from science and technology to the arts and humanities.  It provides them with the opportunity to engage in short-term collaborative programmes at globally-renowned host institutions and organisations.