Social Heroes honoured at IMSHA2018

After reviewing the 262 nominations received for organizations and individuals this year, the IMSHA2018 Leadership Council met the challenge to identify the worthy recipients who were honoured in the 5th Iskandar Malaysia Social Hero Awards 2018.

YAM Tunku Idris Iskandar Ismail Abdul Rahman,
Tunku Temenggong Johor, graced the IMSHA2018
A total of nine Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) and nine exemplary individuals and two company Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives were proudly acknowledged in a glittering event held in the ballroom of the Renaissance Johor Baru, recently.

The social heroes who were recognised by IMSHA2018 certainly proved that the spirit of volunteerism is very much alive in Iskandar Malaysia, Johor.

I was honoured to be part of this prestigious annual event as the IMSHA, Iskandar Malaysia’s premier community service award event, works hard to identify, recognise and celebrate individuals, organisations and groups who are contributing positively to make a difference to our community.

The 11 categories, both for organizations and individuals, given recognition for their outstanding contributions and making a difference in Iskandar Malaysia are Animal & Wildlife, Disaster Relief and Public Safety, Education Advancement, Environmental Preservation/Protection, Heath Services, Human Empowerment, Poverty & Hunger Relief, Corporate Social Responsibility, Social Innovator and Arts, Culture & Heritage.

Tunku Temenggong Johor [Centre], IRDA Chief Executive, Datuk Ismail Ibrahim and IMSHA Chairperson,
Thanam Visvanathan Suresh with the IMSHA2018 social heroes in organisation and individual categories
Over a given period of time, the public was invited to submit online, their nominations of organisations or individuals who are doing something outstanding and extraordinary in their community.

These nominations would then be analysed and rated against a ‘social impact rating’ system by Frost and Sullivan, an independent technical committee, before the results are finally vetted by the Leadership Council.

The evening’s Gala Dinner event, graced by Yang Amat Mulia Tunku Idris Iskandar Ismail Abdul Rahman ibni Tunku Ibrahim Ismail, the Tunku Temenggong Johor, was also attended by past and present nominees and winners, sponsors and supporters, among other guests.

Tunku Temenggong Johor [Centre], IRDA Chief Executive,
Datuk Ismail Ibrahim and IMSHA Chairperson, Thanam
Visvanathan Suresh, with sponsor representatives 
The large crowd gathered in the ballroom is also proof of how IMSHA have successfully been raising more awareness on the need for all to share in the responsibility of working towards a more inclusive, compassionate and effective society.

Over the years, as IMSHA has been gaining more support, more unsung heroes are being uncovered by the public every year.

While I was familiar with some of the award winners, I must confess that some names were unknown to me.

This was probably only because of their selfless and unconditional attitude in doing charitable work or pursing their passion – doing it quietly without expecting any rewards.

This was why being recognised with the IMSHA is ever so sweet. 

As the recipients received their IMSHA2018 recognition, I clapped and cheered for them along with the audience. The IMSHA2018 winners were:

·         Animal & Wildlife, Le Grandeur Palm Resort
·         Arts, Culture & Heritage, Persatuan Wau & Layang-Layang Johor
·         Disaster Relief and Public Safety, IMAM Response & Relief Team (IMARET)
·         Education Advancement, Soka Gakkai Malaysia
·         Environmental Preservation/Protection, Sahabat Johor DT
·         Heath Services, National Stroke Association of Malaysia (NASAM) Johor
·         Human Empowerment, Educational, Research and Welfare Foundation (EWRF) Johor Baru
·         Poverty & Hunger Relief, Persatuan Sukerelawan Berkat Kasih Johor Baru
·         Social Innovator, Johor Relief Foundation or IHSAN Johor
·         Corporate Social Responsibility, 1) JCORP Wakaf An Nur
2) Menara Optometry Taman Universiti

·         Animal & Wildlife, Jenny Tan Pei Ching
·         Arts, Culture & Heritage, Ajith Bhaskaran Dass
·         Disaster Relief and Public Safety, Rosli Abdul Wahab
·         Education Advancement, Dr Lim Kok Hwa
·         Environmental Preservation/Protection, Pang Oi Mei
·         Heath Services, Lim Min Um
·         Human Empowerment, Jeyanteh Suberamaniam
·         Poverty & Hunger Relief, Ganggayah Appannah
·         Public Safety, ASP David Chung Seng Yun

Incidentally, I’m familiar with the family of Barred Eagle Owls and was introduced to them several years ago.

Last year, I was a guest at Le Grandeur Palm Resort again to autograph my books that the resort had placed in their hotel suites for their guests’ reading pleasure, and I had the privilege to renew my acquaintance with their mascot owl and met their hornbills too!

I thought it was timely for the Persatuan Wau & Layang-Layang Johor or Johor Kite Association to be recognised as they are doing a good job in maintaining the only Kite Museum in the nation and for supporting the annual World Kite Festivals held at Bukit Layang-Layang, Pasir Gudang.

Janet Yeo, the founder of NASAM, whom I had the privilege to meet in 2010 and shared her story, must be pleased that the rehabilitation programmes and support provided by NASAM JB was honoured at IMSHA2018.

Years ago, while I was covering community news for NST Streets Johor, I joined a school event where I met teachers with EWRF JB who were guiding Indian students from low-income families through education and social behavior programmes.

Ajith Bhaskaran Dass receiving his award from Yvonne Loh
But I probably cheered and clapped the loudest and the longest when the MC announced that the recipient in the individual Arts, Culture & Heritage category was Ajith Bhaskaran Dass!

I was simply delighted that our Johor-born and internationally acclaimed dancer, instructor and choreographer, finally received due recognition in his home-city for his contributions to Arts, Culture and Heritage.

I recently met Ajith again at the 15th Johor Arts Festival where he performed with a cast from his Suvarna dance academy.

Ajith Bhaskaran Dass with Thanam Visvanathan Suresh
This year, as Suvarna marks its Silver Jubilee with 25 wonderful years invested in Bharata Natyam, I believe there is now even more reason for Ajith to celebrate!

I’m familiar with Ajith as his story is among various Johor personalities featured under Portraits in my book, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage.
. . .

So if you know of any unsung heroes in your own neighbourhood or local community, nominate them and let their social contributions be recognized by IMSHA.

Nominations are now open for the public to submit their nominations for the 6th Iskandar Malaysia Social Hero Awards 2019 (IMSHA2019) via Facebook and email through The Iskandarian website:

IMSHA is a community-led event driven by The Iskandarian and Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA).

For more info on IMSHA, visit Facebook page:

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