Sunday, 17 November 2019

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Mon academic Nai Pan Hla dies at 87

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Mon researcher and academic on Mon literature and culture Dr. Nai Pan Hla died of a stroke aged 87 on Friday.

He was being treated at Hninsi Gone hospital and home for the aged on Kabaaye Street, Rangoon. A cremation ceremony was held yesterday at Yayway Cemetery.

“He was hospitalised first for one month and then taken back home,” his son Min Aye Chan told Mizzima. “He was then admitted again and died on the 18th of this month.”

Dr. Nai Pan Hla was the fourth son of seven siblings born to village headman U Kyua and Daw Cho on March 20, 1923 in Kaw Wein village, Mon State, on the banks of the Gyaing River.

He studied Mon, Burmese and English languages at the monastic school in his village then passed grade seven in the 1939-40 academic year at Karen ABM High School in Moulmein. As the Second World War had reached Burma he returned home from grade eight studies at Moulmein State High School. He moved to Rangoon in 1946, where he studied matriculation at Myoma High School in Rangoon for three months.

At the Ramanya Mon Association he served as secretary of the political group, and took a post as the senior officer for Mon culture at the Ministry of Culture in 1953. Five years later he was visiting professor at Harvard University and in 1967, in China.

During his career he wrote many research articles on Mon-Burmese culture for periodicals in Burma. The Burma Research Society published his prominent work, Yarzardayit Ayaydawpon (Mon King Movement) in Mon language in 1958. Due to its secessionist themes, the book’s Burmese version could only be published 10 years later. The volume came with forewords by history professor Than Tun (deceased), Burmese professor Than Swe and Khin Hnin Yuu, one of the most influential Burmese women writers.

“The original book is good and so is the translation, so I’d like to say we’ve been given a reliable Yarzardayit history book”, Dr. Than Htun said, hailing the book in his foreword.

In 1988 and 1989, he served as visiting professor at Tokyo University and Tokyo International Christian University in Japan.

From there he went to the United States, where he was admitted as a doctoral candidate by Pacific Western University (California) in 1991. There he earned a bachelor’s degree in science and a PhD in cultural anthropology.

For his translation of 11 Mon Dhammasat Texts in English with Ryuji Okudaira he was awarded a doctorate of laws (LLD) in 1992. A dhammasat is a mixture of law, legal advice and poetry based on Buddhist principles. He served as permanent professor of Southeast Asian culture and history at Meio University in Okinawa, Japan from April 1994.

Back home, he also taught Mon literature and stone inscription while living in Bahan Township, Rangoon.

He is survived by a son and six daughters.


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