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PAST ADVISOR: Yusof Gajah (1954-2022)

Yusof Gajah is Malaysia's foremost naive art artist. Growing up in Johol, a village in Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia and in Singapore. He studied art at Sekolah Seni Rupa in Yogjakarta, Indonesia. When he returned to Malaysia in 1975, he started his career as a full-time artist. Since then, Yusof has built up a formidable reputation in the art world and his paintings are widely sought after, both locally and internationally.

In addition to his painting, Yusof has written and illustrated a number of children's picture books. He has received numerous awards, including the Best Children's Book Illustration from the National Book Council of Malaysia and the Noma Concours Grand Prix Award (ACCU) in Tokyo, Japan for his book, 'The Real Elephant.' He was nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2011 and 2012.

He won the Noma Concours Grand Prix, 1996. He has sat on the jury panel for several international awards including the Bratislava Illustration Award,  Slovakia; the Noma Concours, Tokyo; Tehran International Illustration Award, Iran; and the Nami Conours, Korea.

He also conducts art workshops and especially enjoys working with children. His constant companion and supporter is his wife, Zakiah. They have three children.

Mahaya Mohd Yassin

Mahaya Mohd. Yassin is a writer of children's books. She is also a lecturer on language, literature, and creative writing. She is a staunch advocate of language and literature.

A graduate in creative and descriptive writing (UM) as well as in literature (UKM), Mahaya has taught at primary and secondary schools and teacher's college.

She has published several children's books and poems and has won numerous awards including the National Literature Award.

Currently, Mahaya is the head of the Negeri Sembilan Writers Association.

Hou Mingliang

In a career spanning more than 30 years, Mingliang HOU has worked as a university lecturer, librarian, and censor for magazines and books, as well as in management in the publishing industry. He entered the publishing sector in 1991, focused primarily on China-foreign culture exchange, copyright trade, book import & export, and book publishing and distribution. His assiduous quest over the last two decades or so in the publishing sector saw him journey from Jilin Province to Beijing, from state-owned publishing house to a joint venture company. As a professional manager, he dedicated eight years of his career in publishing children’s books in China , successfully establishing a company with a unique brand, as well as .as well as satisfying the child in him..

As the founder of illuSalon, he has focused his efforts on illustration and related fields, exploring the various possibilities of visual communication. At this time, illuSalon is the largest global illustration resource aggregation platform in China, and the exclusive operational entity of the internationally influential Global Illustration Award (GIA).

Ken Spillman

Ken Spillman is an Australian writer based in Perth, Western Australia. With more than 70 books to his name, Ken is one of Australia’s most prolific and versatile authors, editors and critics. He has tackled both fiction and non-fiction, winning and being shortlisted for numerous prizes.

Ken’s writing for children has appeared on four continents in many different languages. He has entertained more than 90,000 children with his lively presentations on the magic of books, the gift of imagination and the countless benefits of creative thinking.

Ken is also a highly popular speaker at international festivals and conferences.
Ken was active in amateur theatre during his teens and also performed in a school rock band. Encouraged to write by a teacher at Newman College, Perth, he began publishing poetry and stories after moving to Brisbane to attend Griffith University.

Ken is known to support many foundations working with disadvantaged children through the donation of books and money. He has also interacted with the children served by such foundations in a number of Indian cities and Malaysia.

R. Ramachandran

Ramachandran Rasu Naidu is the executive director of the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS). He was formerly the deputy chief executive of the National Library Board and the director of National Library Singapore. He was the first secretary-general of the Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians, and has served as the secretary and president of the Library Association of Singapore. He was also the chairman of the NBDCS for several terms. Under his leadership, events such as the Asian Children’s Festival, the Emerging Trends in Library and Archival Services and the World Library Summit were held.

Ramachandran was appointed as the first secretary-general of the Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians (CONSAL) in April 2000. In 2004, he was elected the secretary-general of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). He was awarded the CONSAL Outstanding Librarian Award in 2006 at the 13th CONSAL General Conference in Manila.

Ramachandran has participated in and presented papers at many regional and international library conferences. He has many publications to his name and is widely published in various journals including Singapore Book World, Malayan Law Journal and UNESCO Bulletin for Libraries.

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