The 1978 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service
CITATION for Dato bin Yub Shahrum
Ramon Magsaysay Award Presentation Ceremonies
31 August 1978, Manila, Philippines
Traditionally museums have proven valuable for collecting, preserving and displaying artifacts and other historical evidence of civilization and natural history. Chiefly they have been centers of research and repositories, serving serious scholars and the intellectually curious seeking to understand the origins and evolution of cultures.
Indicative of SHAHRUM BIN YUB'S broader concept of a museum's popular and creative educational role are the more than 26 million visitors to Muzium Negara in Kuala Lumpur since he assumed leadership in 1967. His philosophy that visiting the museum should be as natural for children and adults "as wearing shoes" has had extraordinary results. A nature conservation exhibit drawing 90,000 viewers in the first five days was only one of some 24 annual special exhibits for which the doors are open until six and sometimes ten in the evening. In addition, a mobile van carries museum exhibitions, including traditional shadow plays and folk dramas, to rural schools and villages throughout peninsular Malaysia.
The first task of a museum is to teach, in the view of SHAHRUM and his associates. Although the Muzium Negara is not large but rather intimate in arrangement, the four galleriesfeaturing the cultural past, prehistory and the arts and crafts of aboriginal peoples, natural history and key segments of the nation's economyafford a comprehensive view of the nation. Colorful, three-dimensional settings enliven awareness and appreciation of the rich diversity of the land and the multiracial society. In the central hall and under open sheds outside are held well-publicized changing demonstrations of weaving traditional textiles, woodcarving, rigging fishing vessels and native games, like top spinning contests between villagers. Stamp, coin, currency and international children's art exhibits, and a history of boxing with live participation, are interspersed with presentations on contemporary problems such as drug abuse.
The eclectic entrepreneur of this unique cultural enterprise was born in Perak, Malaya (now Malaysia), 44 years ago. After his schooling in Malaya, SHAHRUM studied anthropology at Leeds University and museology at the British Museum. Returning in 1962 to become museum Curator of Ethnography, he did field work among aborigines and rural Malays and, since appointment as Director General in 1967, has encouraged scholarly research on folk customs, rare flowers and birds of the federation and traditional musical instruments. Archeological excavations are now supervised by the museum and national treasures are better protected under an amended antiquities ordinance he helped write.
The Museum holds regular courses for preschool children on painting, animals, birds and early history, while teachers study such skills as taxidermy. A symposium in Kuala Lumpur on neurological science occasioned a display of traditional Malay medical practice at Muzium Negara. The museum staff also readily helps others mount exhibits.
Just as the museum is SHAHRUM'S life, he has made it part of the life of fellow Malaysians. Together with able co-workers trained around the world, he is giving his people an educational institution that carries the heritage of the past into their modernizing society.
In electing SHAHRUM BIN YUB to receive the 1978 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, the Board of Trustees recognizes his making a living museum an enlightening experience for all ages, fostering a national cultural awakening.
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