Mak Yong expert Ghulam Sarwar's death a great loss to the country

10 Nov 2022 11:24pm
Notable scholar Professor Datuk Dr Ghulam Sarwar Yousof. Photo from Ghulam Sarwar Yousof Facebook page
Notable scholar Professor Datuk Dr Ghulam Sarwar Yousof. Photo from Ghulam Sarwar Yousof Facebook page

SHAH ALAM - Scholar and Malay Mak Yong dance expert Professor Datuk Dr Ghulam Sarwar Yousof died today.

He was 83.

His son Malik Imtiaz was reported saying his father was found dead in his sleep by his wife, Hajrah Beebee at their home in Tanjong Tokong.

Sarwar, the prominent figure of Mak Yong dance left behind a son and four grandchildren.

The late academician’s close friend, Anwar Razal said Sarwar spent six months relocating himself from Kuala Lumpur to Penang.

He said the professor was renting a space to be made into a library-cum-research centre featuring his collection of cultural art and scholarly work.

“I last met him at a nasi kandar shop in Jelutong. We spoke about his collection and how he was eager to start a cultural programme at a local university.

“He is a cultural heritage expert and his death is a great loss to the country,” he said.

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Sarwar was the key figure in establishing the first performing arts programme in the country at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in 1970.

He received a PhD in Mak Yong in 1976 from the University of Hawaii, the pioneer of the doctorate on any Malay performing arts in the world.

He was the key driver in nominating the dance as a world heritage in Unesco’s Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity category in 2005.

The professor returned back to USM as an associate professor in 1976 after completing his PhD in the United States and led the performing arts programme for 19 years.

Apart from that, Sarwar also set his name as a professor in theatre studies in Universiti Malaya before teaching English at the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM).

Prayers for the late Sarwar were held at Masjid Pakistan and were laid to rest at the Perak Road Cemetery after maghrib.

He leaves behind two sons including, Dr Malik Mumtaz and four grandchildren. Sarwar was born in Taiping, Perak on Punjabi descent and the eldest of five siblings.