On Tuesday, 11th July, 1961, Y.T.M. Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, then Prime Minister of the Federation of Malaya, accepted an invitation from the President and members of Rotary Club of Kuala Lumpur to address a special meeting of the club.

During his speech, the Tunku spoke of Malaya’s firm support for the Commonwealth and said that he would very much like to see a Branch of the Royal Commonwealth Society formed in Kuala Lumpur.

YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman, addressing the Special Rotary Meeting at which he proposed the formation of a Branch of the Royal Commonwealth Society. Among those present were Rtn Gurbaksh Singh Sambhi, HE Mr. T. Critchley High Commissioner for Australia, Rtn President V.M. Hutson, Puan Sharifah Rodziah and Tuan Haji Mustapha Albakri. The date was 11th July, 1961.

The President of the Rotary Club, Encik V.M. Hutson, made the formation of a Branch of the Society one of the major projects for the Club in that Rotary year.

A Foundation Committee of the Rotarians was formed, headed by Encik Hutson to process the ground work necessary to form the Branch. The committee was comprised of the following persons who became the Founder Members of the Branch:-

  • Encik V.M. Hutson
  • Encik T. Sivapragasam
  • Dr. Keshmahinder Singh
  • Encik Mohamed Bin. Baba
  • Dato S. M. Yong
  • Encik W. Cairns
  • Encik W.J. Jackson
  • Encik J. A. T. Perera
  • Encik L.G. Young
  • Encik Law Joo Ghin
  • Encik R. Wigg
  • Encik D. A. Clayton

Preparatory work was completed and the inaugural meeting was held on 24th May, 1962 with the President of the Senate, the late Y.B. Dato Haji Abdul Rahman b. Mohd Yasin in the Chair.

At the meeting, the following resolution was adopted:-

“This meeting of the Fellows of the Royal Commonwealth Society and of Commonwealth Citizens resident in the Federation of Malaya resolves that a Federation of Malaya Branch of the Royal Commonwealth Society be and the same is hereby formed.”

The inaugural meeting held at the Dewan Tunku Abdul Rahman which was chaired by YB Dato Haji Rahman bin Mohd Yasin was elected Founder President of the Branch, with him is Mr. V.M. Hutson who was elected Founder Chairman of the Branch.

The constitution was drafted, sent to London for approval at Head-Quarters and the first General Meeting was held on 31st October, 1962 when it was adopted by the Branch. At that meeting, the late Y.B. Dato Haji Abdul Rahman b. Mohd Yasin was elected the first President of the Branch and Encik V.M. Hutson was elected as Chairman of the Council.

The Branch then had 89 fellows. Today the membership records stand at 3583 Fellows and our Branch has been given credit for being the fastest growing branch in the Commonwealth.

On 14th December, 1962, Mr. David Daniels, the former Secretary General of the Society, visited the Branch and at a reception arranged by our first Prime Minister, Y.T.M. Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al –Haj, The President the late Y.B. Dato Haji Abdul Rahman announced that our Prime Minister had agreed to be the Patron of the branch and to accept election as the first honorary Fellow. During the reception, a telegram was received from London Headquarters with the news that our Prime Minister had been appointed Honorary Life Vice-President of the Society, the highest honour the society can award.

Since those early days the Society has grown in strength and popularity. A number of exhibitions depicting various aspects of the Commonwealth have been organized, festivals of Commonwealth firms have been arranged and a number of eminent speakers on subject concerning the Commonwealth have been welcomed by our Fellows. Each year up to 1970, an annual dinner to commemorate Commonwealth Day was organized, until the celebration of Commonwealth Day was discontinued by mutual agreement at a Prime Ministers’ Conference. During the next the next three years, Muhibbah parties were held at the home of the Chairman, Encik V.M. Hutson in December, Commonwealth Day celebration was resumed in 1977. The Branch has concerned itself also with the young people and Essay Competitions have been held, the winner being awarded a handsome Challenge Trophy which was donated by well wishers. Inter-school debates have been organized to encourage interest in the Commonwealth amongst young people.

Early in 1965, as a result of a suggestion by the then Honorary Secretary, Encik A. Y. L. Lee, it was decided to organize Charter Flights to the United Kingdom to give Malaysian Fellows an opportunity to travel to parts of the world, which by normal means of transport might be beyond their financial resources. The Charter flight idea was an immediate success. Not only did our membership start to increase rapidly but as a result of generous donations by the airline supplying the charter aircraft, our funds started to grow.
From 1964, a member of the Council, Encik Sarjeet Singh Dhaliwall, became a strong advocate for the erection of a building in the name of the society in Kuala Lumpur. But while his proposal had the support and enthusiasm of the other members of the Council, lack of funds ruled out any plans towards this objective. The introduction of Charter Flights changed all this and the prospects for a Headquarters Building began to look not just bright but actually rosy. By early 1969 the council was looking for suitable land.

Commenwealth House
The fine half acre site on which our building stands was acquired with the assistance of Dato’ T.K. Wen and the building has been designed by one of Malaysia’s most outstanding architects, Dato Kington Loo at no cost to the Branch.

The foundation stone was laid by Y.A.B Allayyarham Tun Haji Abdul Razak Bin Dato Hussain then Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia on Friday, 6th March 1970.

Not far from the town centre of Kuala Lumpur’s latest suburb, Damansara Heights, “Commonwealth House” with its Minangkabau style roof has a prominent position. The building was designed by Dato Kington Loo who availed his services. The first phrase of the building consisted of an entrance area and large lounge, a library-cum-committee room, and office on the ground floor. A broad staircase leads to the first floor which consists of a large lecture hall to accommodate some 400 people. The building contains also, residential accommodation consisting of four double air-conditioned bedrooms with attached bathrooms.
In order to furnish these magnificent premises, an appeal was addressed to all the Commonwealth High Commissions in Kuala Lumpur and we record with thanks the response from the U.K. High Commission who agreed to furnish the main lounge ( now known as the U.K. Lounge), the Singapore High Commission who agreed to furnish a bedroom (now know as the Singapore Suite. We also record our thanks to I.C.I. Malaysia Sdn. Bhd and Sun Furniture Sdn. Bhd., both these firms generously furnished two other bedrooms. London Headquarters and the New Zealand High Commission donated paintings.

During the year 1970, the name of the Branch was changed from the “States of Malaya Branch” to the “Malaysian Branch” and as the year drew to a close on 15th December, an Extraordinary General Meeting was held when it was unanimously decided to give the Branch autonomous status.

Then on Wednesday, 17 February1971, commonwealth house was declared open officially at a colourful ceremony by our Patron, Y.T.M. Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj.

In 1972, Y.A.B. Tun Sir Henry H.S. Lee who was President of the Branch for 5 years and has been Fellow of the Society since 1921, was appointed a Vice-Patron of the Branch in recognition of his immense service to the Branch.

A highlight in the history of the Branch came in March, 1972 when H.M. Queen Elizabeth II visited Commonwealth House accompanied by HRH Prince Philip and HRH Princess Anne. The Royal visitors were shown over the newly completed building and spent nearly an hour meeting the council and hundred of members who had gathered to meet them.
The second phase implemented in 1972/73 involved the construction of a swimming pool and changing rooms. For this purpose, an additional 8,000 square feet of land was purchased. The pool and dressing rooms were designed by Dato Lau Foo Sun who donated his services and also supervised the construction. The filteration plant for the pool was generously donated by Encik Brig L.G. Young, a founder Council Member. Also in the second phase the main lecture hall was air-conditioned and fitted up for the projection of films. Now available also is a Sony 40 inch wide screen video projector. Disco equipment has also been installed.

The Branch was honoured with a visit by HRH The Sultan of Selangor and HRH Tengku Ampuan of Selangor. During this visit, HRH presented the Branch with a magnificent grandfather clock which stands at the south end of the U.K. Lounge.

In March, 1976, the lecture hall was named “ Balai Tunku Abdul Rahman” in honour of the Patron who on that occasion presented the Branch with a bronze bust of himself which graces the front entrance of Commonwealth House.
Further development took place in 1975/76 when a large new office was constructed in addition to a machine room and four fruit machines are now in use. Still further expansion took place in 1981/82 with the addition of an air-conditioned dining room and the Tudor Bar.

With 800 active Fellows as Members of which 80% together with their families are resident in Kuala Lumpur and its suburbs, Commonwealth House has become one of the most popular clubs in the Federal Capital.

It is particularly popular as a club for visitors from Commonwealth countries who come to Malaysia to work on short term contracts. Malaysian Fellows are delighted to offer the hospitality of their Branch to these visitors who have a chance of meeting a cross-section of Malaysians from many walks of life.

Annual highlights are the celebration of Commonwealth Day. This event results in the highest attendance for any function during the year. Other social functions are mainly held to celebrate the festive season of the different races.

Facilities are available for indoor games such as Darts, Table Tennis and Billiards. Film Shows and Video Shows on a large screen are regular features on our entertainment programme. Talks by eminent speakers are arranged from time to time. There are four slot machines, playing of which is restricted to Members only.
In 1981 after five years as President, Y.B. Tan Sri Abdul Jamil Bin Abdul Rais was appointed a Vice Patron of the Branch in recognition of his immense services to the Branch. On 1st March 1982, the Branch celebrated its 21st Birthday, when our Patron YTM Abdul Rahman Putra Al Haj attended a special dinner and declared open two new extensions, namely the Tudor Bar and the small dining room both of which are fully air conditioned. The main verandah of the UK Lounge was extended to double its original size.
The year 1984 saw the complete renovation of the Swimming Pool area, while in 1985 the kitchen and Staff Quarters were enlarged and renovated. The Tudor Bar was enlarged, necessitating the construction of a new conference room and as a result of popular demand a Squash Court was built.

With these extensions and additions the three quarter acre site of our Branch headquarters has been fully utilized.
The Branch throughout its 24 year history has enjoyed the firm support and encouragement of the Government of Malaysia and the High Commissioners and officials of all Commonwealth missions in this country and we place on record our most grateful thanks to them all.

Our Malaysian Branch is justly proud that it is the only branch in the Commonwealth, apart from London Headquarters, which own its own premises providing full club facilities and residential accommodation. We look forward to the future with confidence.

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Royal Commonwealth Society Malaysia

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+603-2094 4089Phone Number
Established since 1963Year of Establishment
PPM-01800719-14-0663Registration Number
Royal Commonwealth Society No. 4 Jalan Birah, Damansara Heights 50490 Kuala LumpurAddress
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