18 December 2013 (Wednesday) – Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) Director General (DG) Dato’ Dr Abd Latif Mohmod has received the Top Research Scientists Malaysia (TRSM) Award from the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) recently, whilst FRIM Forest Biodiversity Director, Dr Saw Leng Guan, was elected a fellow to the prestigious academy.
They received the respective awards at the 2013 Conferment of Fellowships to Scientists by ASM and the Announcement of the 2013 Top Research Scientists Malaysia (TRSM), officiated by Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak on 17 December 2013 in Kuala Lumpur.
Abd Latif, accompanied by his wife Datin Halidah Kasmin to the ceremony received the plaque and certificate presented by ASM President, Tan Sri Dr Ahmad Tajuddin Ali.
The Prime Minister presented the ASM fellowship certificate to Saw and 18 other scientists, who were elected as new fellows. Saw was appointed for his work in “Plant Taxonomy and Ecology” under the Biological Agriculture and Environmental Sciences discipline.
He has contributed significantly towards documenting and conservation of plants of Malaysia. Saw is involved in three modern flora projects initiated in FRIM: Tree Flora of Malaya; Tree Flora of Sabah and Sarawak; and the Flora of Peninsular Malaysia. He specialises in the study of palms and has conducted research on native palms of Malaysia. He has described 57 new taxa (i.e. species and varieties) of plants and in recognition of his work, three plant species were named after him.
Saw received two other national/international awards, namely the British High Commissions Chevening Scholarships Scheme and the National Book Award 2012 for the publication of “Wild Orchids of Peninsular Malaysia”. In 2009, he was bestowed with the FRIM Best Researcher Award.
He is the fourth FRIM scientist to be appointed as a fellow to the prestigious academy, following the footsteps of the first FRIM DG, Tan Sri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor; the second FRIM DG, Datuk Dr Abd Razak Mohd Ali; and the former FRIM Deputy DG, Dr Francis Ng.
Abd Latif, on the other hand, is the first FRIM scientist to receive the TRSM Award, in recognition of his many years of consistent efforts and contribution in undertaking and mobilising research in the field of forestry.
The TRSM project, launched in 2012, was developed as part of ASM’s efforts to foster a culture of excellence in science, technology and innovation (STI). It aims to accord recognition and showcase the accomplishments of Malaysian research scientists that contribute significantly to the economic growth of the nation via generation and dissemination of knowledge, wealth creation and productive pursuit of scientific excellence for the benefit of humanity; as role models of excellence, mentor to the next generation and leaders to forge ahead with STI agenda of the nation.
Abd Latif, who took over the helm of FRIM since May 2008, is also the first and only forestry scientist to be accorded the Malaysian National Young Scientist Award (1993); the Outstanding Young Malaysian Award (1999) and the Eisenhower Fellowship of USA (1999).
He was the youngest recipient of the IUFRO Scientific Achievement Award at the age of 34 in 1995. Among others, he also received the National Inventor Award in 1997; the Rotary Research Gold Medal Award (2012) and conferred the Science and Technology (S&T) Achievement Award 2012 by the Malaysian Scientific Association (MSA) in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the field of S&T development in Malaysia.
Under his guidance, FRIM continues to flourish and develop as the authoritative reference centre especially for tropical forestry and forest products research. In 2012 alone, FRIM won seven prestigious international, nine national awards and 12 Malaysia Book of Records. In 2013, FRIM clinched the National Innovation Award for the High Temperature Drying (HTD) Lumber Treatment System and also received the National Book Awards for the third consecutive year.