The topic for Perak Academy’s 16th series lectures was, ‘Shakespeare and the Drama of Life’ by Dato’ Mahadev Shankar, a former appeal court judge. Paul Subramaniam was the emcee for the 6th talk in the series held on Friday, July 31 at one of the academy’s members’ residence in upscale Jalan Tun Dr Ismail (formerly Thompson Road).
Born in 1932, Dato’ Mahadev Shankar is a prominent Malaysian lawyer and amongst the many portfolios he held in his lifetime were as a Court of Appeal Judge, President of Malaysian Astronomical Society, Vice President of Zoo Negara and a founder member of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia.
Clad in batik, he recited from The Merchant of Venice and Hamlet during his inspiring talk on perspectives and ideas. In every respect, Shakespeare is a phenomenon because he is universal.
“You can put him in the clothes and the culture of anybody in the world and he still makes sense because he’s not talking about places but human behaviour instead,” he explained.
“Each one of us who has life and who is on this Earth is the most significant thing that happened since the Big Bang. Why? Because we’re the only sentient thinking rational creatures in the known universe,” said the multilingual speaker who is fluent in English, Cantonese, Malay, Tamil, Malayalam, Japanese, Hindi and Punjabi.
Subsequently, the 83-year-old appellate court judge posed this question to the 60-odd attendees: “Since we’re so special and unique, what on earth have we done with this gift?”
The one-hour lecture was followed with a one-hour question-and-answer session. Among those in the audience were the Acting Chairman of Perak Academy, Chan Kok Keong, host Dato’ Yap Lim Sen and Dato’ N.H. Chan, another former appeal court judge.