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Author/Editor: N. Sivasothi
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore.


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Thu 24 Jun 2004

Raffles Museum's Mrs CM Yang retires

Category : people

Staff and students bade Mrs Yang Chang Man a happy retirement during a lunch in her honour on Monday, 14th June 2004 at the Raffles Museum. Museum director Peter Ng was, for once, at a complete loss of words! He is pictured above with museum curator Kelvin Lim, struggling to unwrap the digital camera she was presented with as a gift wile the rest look on in amusement. More photos here.

From her appointment in 1972, Mrs Yang saw the museum's historical zoological collections through the most difficult time in its long history. Without a permanent home, and with continual demands for space, the collections were shifted four times in 16 years, making a tour of campuses in the process: Ayer Rajah in 1972, Bukit Timah in 1977, Jurong in 1980 and finally Kent Ridge in 1987.

The collection's value in the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research is now without debate; and is recognised as a national treasure of scientific and cultural heritage. With a permanent home, the museum has been able to contribute to research, education and conservation in Singapore and the region.

The collection as it stands today is the result of of the many passionate individuals who saw the collection grow, communicated it secrets to society and guarded it against loss during the long and difficult exodus. In her role as the collection's principal guardian, Mrs Yang carries with her the grateful thanks of researchers, students and public alike.

Although officially retired, we will not say goodbye as yet, for Mrs Yang will continue her work on aquatic insects. She and Lanna Cheng of Scripps Institution of Oceanology will be publishing the "Guide to aquatic and semiaquatic Heteroptera of Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia.

"Naturalists will be naturalists, even in times of war"*. Retirement will obviously not pose a significant obstacle!

*Mrs Yang passed me this article after the luncheon on Monday, in which former museum director Michael Tweedie (who last visited the collection during the 1987 opening, see picture on right) relates how he had a go at rat-catching and rabbit husbandry in addition to his duties! He was taken prisoner in Java during World War II and sent to Naagasaki. In the midst of it all, he reared butterfly larvae and saw Swallowtails emerge. Ref: Sharpe, I., 1989. Naturalists will be naturalists, even in times of war. Malayan Naturalist, 42(4): 6.

Posted at 9:20AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,