The Rotary Club of Kuala Lumpur (as it was known then), the oldest in South-East Asia, existed in spirit as early as 1918, when leaders of government, commerce and professions residing in Kuala Lumpur mooted the idea of forming an association to promote community service and inter-community harmony.
This lofty idea gained tremendous support from leaders of the various communities in Kuala Lumpur and the Concord Club, organised on Rotary lines, was formed in the early 1920s..
Through the visit of Mr James W Davidson, Rotary International’s “Special Commissioner”, the Concord Club evolved into the Provisional Rotary Club of Kuala Lumpur on 20 July 1928.
The Rotary Club of Kuala Lumpur was inaugurated on 27 September 1929, with Andrew Caldecott (later Sir Andrew)(left) as the Founder President, David Gammans (later Sir David) (right) as the first Secretary and 29 other Founder Members – among whom were famous names such as Raja Tun Uda, Choo Kia Peng (the first Vice President), Loke Choe Thye, Mungo Park, A. Viswalingam, Dato Hamsah B Abdullah, Pat Benjamin Tallala, Khoo Teik Ee, Robert Boyd and A.S. Bailey.
Through an unfortunate administrative mix-up, the Rotary Club of Kuala Lumpur was formally chartered rather belatedly on 15 January 1930, vide Charter No 3268. By the time the Charter was received membership of the Club had increased to 65 and among them was Tan Sri Dato Gunn Lay Teik who later become District Governor.
The Club did not function during the Japanese Occupation, 1942-1946. The first post-war meeting was convened in October 1946, with 3 members. This membership grew to 65 by 1947.
The Rotary Club of Kuala Lumpur has had the honour of sponsoring several Rotary, Rotaract and Interact Clubs. The nine Rotary Clubs it sponsored were Klang Coast (now Klang, 1930), Kuantan (1952/3), Petaling Jaya (1960/61), Pudu (1963/64), Cameron Highlands (1968/9), Kuala Lumpur North (now Gombak 1970), Damansara (1980/1), and Kepong Baru (1989). The Bangsar Club was sponsored by the Damansara Rotary Club and its Founder President was one of our Club’s worthy Rotarians, Lal Chand Mahadev.
Three Youthact Clubs were sponsored by the club in recent years and are still active today. They are Youthact Clubs of Sekolah Sri Garden (2001), SMK Taman Desa (2002) and Alice Smith School (2005) (Equine Park).
The Interact Clubs sponsored are St. John’s Institution (1962/3), Maxwell School (1946/5), Bukit Bintang Girl School (1971/2), Convent Bukit Nenas (1972/3), Setapak High School, Air Panas Girls’ School, Methodist High School (Brickfields), Aminuddin Baki School, Convent Jalan Peel, and Sri Garden School.
Three Rotaract Clubs were sponsored, namely Rotaract Club of Kuala Lumpur (1967/8), Rotaract Club of University of Malaya (1971/2) and Rotaract Club of Stamford Secretarial Centre (1977/8), which later became Rotaract Club of Wanita Wilayah. It ceased operations in 1986. Currently only one club is still active, viz. the Rotaract Club of Kuala Lumpur.
The history of charity and community projects of RCKL is wide-ranging. Among the major projects carried out during the past 80 years are the establishment of the Sungei Buloh leprosarium, the first Blood Bank, forming of the Malaysian Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis, the Brickfields House for Problem Boys, Royal Commonwealth Society of Malaya, Medic Alert Foundation, building of the Rotary-Perkim Rehabilitation Centre, establishing a bakery cum training centre for Pusat Serenti Tampin and the Rotary Training Institute for Carers of the Handicapped (RoTICH).
RCKL also initiated the idea of the Outward Bound School, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. It sponsored the Malaysian Zoological Society and National Zoo, Diabetes Association, donated a Mobile library, a Mobile Eye Clinic, a Mobile Blood Donor’s van, skating rink at Lake Gardens, Pavilions at Taman Titiwangsa. The club contributed to the Selangor & FT Spastic Children’s Association Building and many other projects.
In recognition of the 70 years of service RCKL had given to the community, the then Sultan of Selangor conferred the royal status on the club effective 8 October 1997. This was and still is a great honour to the club as at that time no other Rotary club in the world had been given the “Royal” status. On 21 October 1997, Rotary International approved the name change of RCKL to The Rotary Club of Kuala Lumpur DiRaja.
This milestone in the history of the club was captured by the issuance of a Souvenir Cover by the then Ministry of Energy, Telecommunications & Post on 28 March 1998 and this was subsequently released for sale to the public.
With its long history – and until recently being the biggest club in the district – it comes as no surprise that some 14 District Governors were elected from the Rotary Club of Kuala Lumpur DiRaja. Today, three of them are still active members of the club. They are Dato’ Hj Mustapha Ma (1986-87), Dato’ Beh Lye Huat (1997-98), and Dato’ Jimmy Lim Thaw Chay (2006-07).
The lifeline of the Rotary Club of Kuala Lumpur DiRaja is the Kuala Lumpur Rotary Charity Foundation (KLRCF). Funds received are channelled into KLRCF and this is run by an elected management committee oversee by trustees. Millions of Malaysian Ringgit were donated over the years and the income generated is being used to fund the numerous charity projects undertaken by the club every year.