The Merdeka Award


Andy Eavis was one of the recipients of the Merdeka Award in 2018. Although this was a personal award Andy made it clear from the outset that he recognised that the award would never have been made without the hard work of over 170 Mulu explorers and a core of dedicated volunteers who, over the past 40 years, have contributed to make Mulu recognised as one of the World’s most prestigious caving regions.

With this in mind Andy was determined that the monies from the award would be used to benefit the ongoing exploration of the area and would be dispersed throughout the local communities in the region which have supported many expeditions and contributed so much to the exploration of Mulu’s caves. The obvious way to ensure this was to make monies available to future expeditions through grant aid. In the absence of a specific vehicle for allocating grants to Mulu the decision was made to approach the Ghar Parau Foundation, as the recognised experts in the distribution of grants to caving expeditions, to see if they would take on this role.


The decision to transfer the Award monies to GPF was based on the track record of GPF as the UK’s caving award body. However, it was understood that GPF are not the ‘experts’ on Mulu so although the final decision on any grant will be made by the GPF committee some assistance in the decision making process would be required from an authority on Mulu’s caves, in this case the Mulu Caves Project (MCP).

The Mulu Caves Project is a formally constituted body which was set up to coordinate the exploration of Mulu’s caves. It is made up of a team of eight Mulu veterans, assisted by others co-opted from time to time, who aim to ensure a smooth flow of information between expeditions and set standards for exploration, surveying and reporting to ensure transparency and cooperation.

It is recognised as part of the donation of the award to GPF that the capital monies from Merdeka will be ring-fenced by GPF for the sole use of expeditions to Mulu. Any additional monies associated with the capital sum (interest, gift aid etc) will go into the general GPF fund for use as the GPF committee sees fit. It is acknowledged that whilst the ring-fenced sum is solvent the GPF’s general funds will not be used for awards to any expeditions heading for Mulu.

It is proposed that any exploration in Mulu be carried out to the current protocols as set out in the current version of the MCP Memorandum of Association. Should expeditions wish to apply for grant from GPF they must guarantee to coordinate their efforts with the MCP and carry out exploration and surveying in a manner which can be used to add to the overall knowledge of Mulu’s caves and to the Mulu survey dataset.

All applications for Mulu funding must be accompanied by a recommendation from MCP which confirms that they are recognised as a qualifying entity.

Considerations for Awards
  • Awards are to be made for expenses that relate to expenditure within the local community area, The National Park, accommodation, local labour, local food etc.
  • Funding for specific group equipment (e.g. scientific apparatus, communications gear) will also be considered.
  • International travel does not normally qualify for grant aid.
  • Awards will be made with a view to furthering the MCP’s overall long-term view of what constitutes worthwhile speleological endeavour in the Park.
  • Where possible, preference should be given to purchasing goods and services in such a way as to maximise the spend in the local community in Mulu.
  • Applicants must guarantee to share all survey data with MCP for addition to the overall dataset.
  • Applicants must guarantee to produce a set of accounts detailing expedition expenditures. This is useful for future planning purposes and ensures financial transparency.
  • Expeditions must guarantee to abide by the terms of the official Permit for exploration issued by the governing authority in Sarawak, currently Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC).
  • Applicants must guarantee to produce a report on their findings in compliance with the official Permit and to submit ten copies of the report to MCP.
  • Current requirements: It is recognised that survey data from early expeditions was lost once drawn plans were produced. Now in the era of digital surveys that information is required. A current project is underway to resurvey approximately 75km of cave passages. When awarding monies to expeditions preference should be given to teams which agree to assist in this process. A view will be taken on the level of funding based on the percentage of resurvey work being considered as part of the expedition’s aims.
  • Members of Mulu expeditions applying for GPF funding will be expected to sign the MCP Memorandum of Understanding.
Conflicts of Interest

GPF is expected to apply a robust, transparent and well-documented decision-making process which will ensure that there is no undue influence or bias in favour of those persons who have made donations to the Foundation.

Grants must not be paid into any account which is in the exclusive control of a donor.