Johor’s Cape-less Heroes

The organisers and recipients proudly showing their awards
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Coming together to honour those contributing to our society without expecting returns

The Iskandar Malaysia Social Hero Awards (IMSHA) occurred on the 17th of October as a day of recognition to those who have selflessly gone above and beyond the line of duty to give back to the society. IMSHA was conceptualised 6 years ago as an annual community-led initiative driven by The Iskandarian and Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) to recognise and award the works of individuals and organisations that contribute for the good of society.

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Thanam Visvanathan Suresh, Chairman of IMSHA addressing the floor in her opening speech

The gala banquet, held at Pulai Springs Resort was graced by His Highness Tunku Idris Iskandar Al-Haj Inbi Sultan Ibrahim, Tunku Temenggong Johor who personally congratulated and praised the 20 winners (ten individuals, nine CSO/NGOs and one company in the CSR category) spread amongst the 11 categories which comprises Animal & Wildlife Protection, Arts, Culture & Heritage, Corporate Social Responsibility, Disaster Relief, Education Advancement, Environmental Preservation/Protection, Health Services, Human Empowerment, Public Safety, Poverty & Hunger Relief and Social Innovator.

This year has seen a record high of 301 nominations from the public, 61 more than last year as the initiative gains traction and has also been elevated to be benchmarked against global practices due to teaming up with the United Nations Country Team Malaysia to align the awards to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the UN 2030 Agenda.

IMSHA Chairman Thanam Visavanathan-Suresh expressed her heartfelt gratitude in her opening address regarding the growth and elevation of IMSHA and that the spirit of the award ceremony is to “shine the spotlight on the value of volunteerism, and the need for all to share the responsibility of working towards a more inclusive, compassionate and effective society”.

His Highness Tunku Idris congratulating Chong Siew Hua for her exemplary work with special needs children

The comprehensive scoring system had another layer of complexity added this year where the contributions of the nominees had to fulfill either one of the seventeen SDGs as part of the scoring before they were shortlisted and presented to The Leadership Council – a panel of seven judges comprising of past winners and exceptional members of the society who would then select a winner for each category.

All IMSHA winners are also provided free training in regards to further their organisation’s reach, social media presence and with the recent partnership with the United Nations, this year’s winners will also be given SDGs training to align themselves with the 17 goals of the SDGs. Coaching sessions will also be given to enhance resource sharing via data management by inputting data to the SDGs portal.

With this year’s accomplishment, IMSHA hopes to further inspire others to take up social responsibility and to encourage individuals, organisations, associations and companies to innovate to address new and existing social challenges.

On a sad note, while the 6th IMSHA was being held, Suzie Yap, a person synonymous with the Johor Arts Festival, was fighting her final battle with cancer and exhaled her last breath. For the past 15 years, Suzie was the Festival Director and along with her husband Yap Siong Cheng, who founded the Johor Society for the Performing Arts (JSPA), created Malaysia’s longest-running Arts Festivals as a platform for the performing arts and fashion scene of Johor. Suzie will always be remembered for her grit and uncompromising attitude, and her determination and passion for promoting the arts and culture stands as a benchmark for others.