To be presented to one who can innovate, develop technology to contribute to society
Published by The Vibes
KUALA LUMPUR – PETRA Group chairman and chief executive Datuk (Dr) Vinod Sekhar has pledged to award RM500,000 to a member of the scientific community for revolutionary accomplishments in the field.
The annual reward, scheduled to meet its inaugural recipient next year, will be given on behalf of the Vinod Sekhar Foundation, which implements various initiatives to alleviate poverty while providing healthcare and education to the most vulnerable members of society.
This was announced during the sixth Tan Sri Dr B.C. Sekhar Memorial Public Lecture event last night, which is held annually to commemorate the lifetime achievements of its namesake, who happens to be the late father of prominent businessman Vinod.
“Together with the Malaysian Scientific Association (MSA), the Vinod Sekhar Foundation will arrange and provide for half a million ringgit (to be given) to a scientist who can innovate and develop technology that will contribute to society,” Vinod said.
Noting that his father had played a dominant role in promoting science and development in the nation, he urged the scientific community and industry players in the country to continue cooperation to develop scientists who could play bigger roles not just for academic pursuit, but also for the development of the nation.
Reminiscing on a quote his father used to live by, Vinod reiterated that B.C. Sekhar was one who championed nurturing the people in tandem with innovating and developing the rubber plantation industry.
“My father used to say (to plantation union figures): ‘You take care of the person under the tree, and I will take care of the tree, but remember, if there is no tree, there will be no person under the tree’.
“In the end, the union heads would say that he ended up taking care of both.”
Crediting his father for his success in life, Vinod said he has always attempted to live up to the beliefs implanted in him by the man who he described as a “nation builder, a global scientist and a towering figure”.
Known as Mr Natural Rubber, B.C. Sekhar was credited with modernising Malaysia’s natural rubber industry and also played a pivotal role in the development of the nation’s palm oil industry.
Born in an estate in Sg Buloh on November 17, 1929, Sekhar was the Asian Director of the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia in 1966 and, subsequently, became the first Asian Controller of Rubber Research and chairman of the Malaysian Rubber Research and Development Board.
He continued to tour the world to spread knowledge on the rubber and palm oil industry until his death in September 2006, leaving the world bereft of a great man who had vastly contributed to globally advancing the nation.
First organised by the MSA council in 2007, the memorial lecture this year was also supported by Sime Darby Plantation, Lee Foundation, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, the Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council and United Plantations Bhd among others.
The event was graced by Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman and prime ministerial candidate Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who beheld Sekhar as a man who defied stereotypes by pushing the boundaries on what can be achieved by a scientist.
Promising to allocate the facilities needed by the scientific community to produce an innovative future, if he is given the mandate to lead the country as prime minister, Anwar lamented the apparent decline of a nation limited by “inconsistent funding and government uncertainty”.
“A nation that can produce a man like Sekhar should not presently find itself in such a dire situation, especially with regard to science, research, technology and development,” said Anwar, who served as Agriculture Minister from 1984 to 1986.
Besides that, last night’s event also included a panel discussion on leveraging frontier technologies for climate-smart agriculture, featuring respected figures such as Malaysian Palm Oil Board research and development deputy director-general Zainab Idris, Malaysian Rubber Board production development director Mohd Nasaruddin Mohd Aris, as well as Spruce Capital Partners co-founder and managing partner Ganesh M. Kishore.
The event culminated in a lecture delivered by Kishore on technology-augmented nature-based solutions enabling nutrition security, sustainability and resilient supply chains.