I am deeply honored and grateful for this Award. I am honored because it has been made
in the name of so great and popular a leader of your country, Ramon Magsaysay. I also am
honored to be among the illustrious personalities who have received this prestigious Award
in the past and to be with those of my distinguished contemporaries who are to receive the
I like to think that the Award is not only a personal honor to me, but more importantly to
the institution for which I am responsiblethe National Museum of Malaysiaand
to my loyal staff who have no less dedicated themselves to its service. I thank God the
Almighty and the Government of Malaysia for the privilege given to me to serve my country
in my humble way in the service of the National Museum in Kuala Lumpur.
What is most gratifying in receiving this Award is the recognition which the Board of
Trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation has given to the importance of museums in
the life of the community. We find the concept of a museum as an instrument of education
present in human society as early as 300 B.C. Then, in Alexandria, Egypt, was created a
museum as an institution of learning.
The term museum conveys the image of an institution that has on display, in three
dimensional form, the artifacts of man from the earliest of times to the present day,
giving the visitor a sense of realism and participation. These artifacts are testimony of
the strivings of men's minds with the problems of life and destiny through the ages. They
furnish evidence of how man has attained an ever increasing degree of mastery over the
inclemency of nature.
We learn from these artifacts, that man, while struggling for survival, has also taken
time to reflect on his lot. We learn of his search for the significance of the world and
his life within ita quest which he has never ceased to pursue. We learn of his
illuminating discovery that all creation must have had a beginning, that there was a
creatorhis realization that there must be God.
We find that man has always endeavored to make his implements artistic as well as
utilitarian. The three major visual artsarchitecture, sculpture and
paintingand the minor artsdecorative and functional crafts, such as the making
of furniture, crockery, apparel, rugs, carpets, and vaseshave very much been infused
with the cultural and aesthetic values and the religious and philosophic concepts of man.
They illumine man's yearnings of yet higher attainments.
In times such as ours we, who cherish a liberal and tolerant society with freedom of
worship and the democratic process as the basis of rule, can draw strength from our rich
cultural heritage to awaken and enlighten our fellowmen. In this, our task is lightened as
man's desire to understand rather than just obey is innate.
A museum should be able to make a distinctive contribution to enriching man's
understanding of himself and his environment. A museum should be able to give men the
opportunity to better appreciate his aesthetic inclinations and his spiritual aspirations
and thus guide him to a richer living.
This then is the message a museum conveys to all mankind and the Foundation's recognition
of this important role has been demonstrated by the Award made to mea recognition
which will be appreciated by the museum world, particularly in this region.