Friday November 11, 2011: Wisma MPA (Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society) was officially declared opened by the Minister of Health.
Friday November 11, 2011 is also the 96th birthday of a humble, unassuming pharmacist, Mr Tan Yap.
But Tan Yap is no ordinary pharmacist.
In the early 1960s Tan Yap sacrificed his pay as a state pharmacist in Johor Baru for one year to study American Sign Language (ASL) at Gallaudet University in USA. On his return, he introduced sign language to educate the deaf in Malaysia and was instrumental in establishing deaf schools in several states, despite much objection and scepticism.
Dubbed the Father of the Deaf, Tan Yap is still active as adviser to The Society of Interpreters For The Deaf in Selangor and Federal Territory.
Tan Yap has received a few awards in recognition of his work, including being the first Asian to get the Edward Miner Gallaudet and Toko Pendidikan Cacat awards.
While other pharmacists went on to collect knighthoods from the state and the Federal governments in recognition of their physical, and sometimes basic monetary, contribition, the people in authority appear to be ‘deaf’ to the sacrifice Tan Yap has made to improve the quality of life of several generations of deaf Malaysians.
Tan Yap was the 1973-1974 President of the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society. We hope the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society did the honour of inviting Tan Yap to the opening ceremony of their Wisma MPS and had made every effort to ensure his comfort at their auspicious event.
Happy Birthday Mr Tan Yap! May this birthday offer you as much joy and happiness as you give to all Malaysians.
Hurlbut, Hope M. A preliminary survey of the signed languages of Malaysia. 2003. Signum Verlag.