Assoc. Prof. Dr. Phan Khanh – who devotes his whole life to national culture

Posted at: MONday - 28/10/2013 09:38 - post name: Phan Trọng Quỳnh

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Phan Khanh – who devotes his whole life to national culture

With qualifications of a methodically educated scientist, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Phan Khanh had many contributions to the cause of cultural development in many aspects, simultaneously, to the scientific research, human training, and cultural state management.

A number of innovative and practical proposals

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Phan Khanh worked as a Chief of the Ministry of Culture and Information Secretariat when the country has just entered the renovation. As a doctor specialized in museum and conservation, he spent much time for inspecting, monitoring situation, and proposing to the Ministry measures to preserve and promote the national culture, including relics and festivals. Through practical surveys, he found that people had a desire to organize festivals and respected the Certificate recognizing historical and cultural relics granted by the Ministry of Culture and Information on behalf of the state. At that time, according to the provisions for a long time, a ban was still put on the festivals. Recognition of relics was only shown on a sheet of onionskin typewritten. However, the festivals took place and the people received that certificate by a respectful attitude and palanquin in accordance with traditional ceremonies. Understanding popularity and having innovative ideas, Phan Khanh had a discussion in the Secretariat about freeing festivals and changing the forms of certificates of relics. He on behalf of the Ministry of Culture and Information Secretariat submitted to the Minister of Culture and Information the documents guiding the people through the festival organization in accordance with arguments: Festivals are the precious traditional cultural values of the country. By organizing the festivals, the people, especially famers had a healthy and useful cultural activity, expressing the moral standards that gratitude is the sign of noble souls and it is good to keep a happy village where people treat each other in the friendly and cozy way.  The Minister signed the documents guiding the festival organization. Taking this opportunity, he offered the Minister to design correctly the model of certificate recognizing the historical and cultural relics and landscapes to have the certificate with formal form as now. Seeing the festivals freed, throbbing drums, vibrant colorful flags, and cheerful and radiant people throughout the villages, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Phan Khanh was so happy. He said “So we performed good deeds and gained popularity.”

Also at that time, he proposed his opinions to the Ministry of Culture and Information for permission to construct the Vietnam Women’s Museum. Chief of Secretariat Phan Khanh really liked this idea. He together with Deputy Head of Department of Conservation – Museum Dang Van Bai researched the scheme, then convinced the Ministry of premising the Vietnam Women’s Museum to be constructed. Nowadays, everyone knows that the Vietnam Women’s Museum is one of the 25 most attractive museums in Asia and the most fascinating tourist destination in Hanoi, but only a few people knows that Assoc. Prof. Dr. Phan Khanh is one of midwife bringing lucks for the cultural innovation.

A devoted cultural advisor

As being retired under the regime, with his stable qualifications, Prof. Dr. Phan Khanh participated in scientific research, social criticism, and master and doctor training guidance. He went to many localities to study and make comments about solutions for management issues related to culture. He acted as a consultant to the Ho Chi Minh City University of Culture and Member of Scientific Councils of many organizations participated in many research works, including 1,000 years of Thang Long – Hanoi ones. His opinions are both scientific and practical, showing a far-sightedness in accordance the laws of life. He always concerned about children and family issues. He proposed the necessity to develop the short term and long term cultural policies for families and children in the current period of innovation and opening with the reason that “Our country now is in the period of shifting from an agricultural society into an industrial society. The model of traditional family is attacked on all sides and prone to fall to pieces immediately. The children issues are in the same situation, children are currently attacked on all sides by the social evils, including untruthful storybooks and extrinsic internet, etc.” He had plenty of contributions into the national cultural heritages protection. He revealed: “Cultural heritages are said to be important because a country without heritages is a country without past and orders and disciplines.  Whether good or bad, the past order and discipline are always important.  A society with orders and disciplines is a society with laws and rules to adjust human behavior. Moral values make people live together more morally and stably. Preserving Cultural heritages means respecting those deserving the credit, sacrificing themselves for the people, and upholding social sacrifices. Antiquities have their own value and evidences of their radical origin.” As a Member of Scientific Council on monuments conservation – Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, when speaking about handling of the Van Cao – Hoang Hoa Tham intersection, he affirmed that “It should not be so mechanical in conservation of cultural heritages.”  He opposed, “In my opinion, the most feasible solution for this intersection is quickly taking photographs, making a film, and seeking artifacts, then probably displaying on the spot or someplace and making room for keeping construction. Preservation of cultural heritages is benefit of everyone but should not be performed in a mechanical way.  In the long term, I think that the municipal leaders should pay attention to the handling of two issues. The first is educating awareness of cultural heritages preservation among people, management sectors, and construction units in order to have timely solutions when finding heritages. The second is that when receiving requirement from the construction units, the cultural sector needs to quickly research for the next solution. About Dao Tan – Buoi Dyke intersection, of which project is being set up in particular, I really welcome the municipal leaders for soon direction for permitting to disinter the Buoi Dyke in the earliest time to serve the work of research and conservation.” Up to now, his such opinions have still been hotly topical, of which many have been paid attention to and applied in order to both ensure and preserve national cultural heritages and pass the way for economic development.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Phan Khanh was born in 1935 in Thanh Hoa. In 1959, he was the staff of the Conservation and Museum, sent to Soviet by the State for studying. In 1962, after graduation and going home, he taught at School of Professional Reasoning. From 1963 to 1966, he worked at the Museum Office of Department of Museum and Conservation, participated in construction of Xo Viet Nghe Tinh Museum and Dien Bien Phu Museum, etc. From 1966 to 1972, he worked in the College of Cultural Professions (the Hanoi University of Culture now). In 1986, he was assigned Temporary Rector of Hanoi University of Culture. June 1987, he was appointed Chief of Ministry of Culture Secretariat. Till 1990, he was Temporary Director of the Training Department of Ministry of Culture and Information. In 1991, he was Director of this Department.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Phan Khanh was granted by the State noble prizes such as: Resistance War Medal second-class, Medal for the Cause of Education, Medal for the Cause of Culture, and many other credits.

Translated by Nga Nguyen

Author: Dr. Pham Viet Long
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