Our Early Years
The St. John Ambulance Association (SJAA) was the first Foundation of the Order of St.John to be established in the then Malaya in 1908 at Kuala Lumpur. At that time, the SJAA Committee and members consisted of the British Civil servants and medical officers from the British Army stationed in Malaya and Singapore. In 1938, Lady Ursula Copland-Griffiths, Superintendent-in-Chief of the St. John Ambulance Brigade came to Malaya on an assignment to organise the formation of the St. John Ambulance Brigade (SJAB) in the States of Malaya. Following this initiative in the same year, St. John Ambulance Brigade Divisions were formed in the major towns in Perak, Penang as well as in Kuala Lumpur and Johore Bahru. From 1938 to 1940, the British Administrations in each Malay State established the St. John Ambulance Brigade Divisions in schools, government establishments and in the Federated Malay States Railways.
The Japanese Occupation
On 11th December 1941, bomber of the Japanese Air Force started raining bombs on the civilian population. Members of the St. John Ambulance Brigade rose to the occasion and were involved in first aid and air defence exercises. Some of our pioneer members enrolled for full time service and were attached to the Field Ambulance Units of the British Army. Others were absorbed into the Medical Auxiliary Service (MAS) and some of them followed the Army to Singapore and served until the fall of Singapore. At this time, the local population began their involvement in St. John Ambulance activities which prior to the war, only enlisted British citizens in Malaya.
Following close on the arrival of Liberation Forces after three and a half years of Japanese rule, the St. John Ambulance Association and the St. John Ambulance Brigade were resuscitated on September 12, 1945 by Dr. R.B. Mac Gregor, the Director of Medical Services of Malaya. He was the SJAB’s first Commissioner and his wife was the Hon. Secretary. Branches at various Districts began to spring up. He was later succeeded by Dr. R.A. Anderson and then Dr. Cameron until 1957.
In 1957, Dr. Chang Hoey Chan became the Commissioner of Malaya District and he held the post until 1966. After that, he was succeeded by the District Surgeon, Y. Bhg. Dato’ Seri Dr. Haji Megat Khas.
The First St. John Council
In 1959, the St. John Ambulance Headquarters in London proposed the setting up of a St. John Council in Malaya. A committee comprising Y. Bhg. Tan Sri S.M. Yong, Raja Musa bin Raja Mahadi and Encik E. Paramasivam was appointed to look into the formation of this Council. In 1960, the Countess Mountbatten of Burma, Lady Edwina Cynthia Annette officially handed over the Rules of the St. John Council of Malaysia to Y.B. Tan Sri Ong Yoke Lin, who was then the Minister of Health cum Chairman of the Council.
When Y.A.B. Tun Haji Abdul Razak bin Dato Haji Hussein became the Prime Minister of Malaysia, he was also the President of the St. John Ambulance Association. It was during his time that the formation of the St. John Ambulance of Malaysia took place.
An Act of Parliament incorporates the St. John Ambulance of Malaysia
In 1971, the Minister of Health, Y.B. Tan Sri (later Tun) Haji Sardon bin Haji Zubir who was also the Chairman of the Council suggested the merger of the Association and the Brigade to streamline the activities of both organizations in West Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak. A committee was set up under the chairmanship of Y. Bhg. Tan Sri Abdul Kadir bin Shamsuddin (the then Chief Secretary to the Government and Chairman of the Association) with Mr. R.S. Gurcharan Singh as Hon. Secretary to study and make recommendations about the merger. As a result, Act 74 in the Laws of Malaysia, St. John Ambulance of Malaysia (Incorporation) Act, 1972 was passed in Parliament and came into force on 31st August, 1972. The St. John Ambulance Rules, 1973, issued by the Minister of Health in his capacity as Chairman of the Council, came into force on 1st August, 1973.
The St. John Ambulance Rules, 1973 provide that the Prime Minister of Malaysia shall be the President and the Minister of Health the Deputy President of the SJAM. They also provide for a St. John Ambulance of Malaysia Council and an Executive Committee at National, State/Regional and Area levels.
National HQ Building
Major Restructuring in the 1990’s
In the early 1990’s, the SJAM had an enrolment of more than 50,000 members. The National SJAM Council carried out a revision of the General Regulations, Dress Regulations and other activities. At the same time, the Council, in recognition of the selfless efforts of the Officers and members, instituted 5 gradesof awards and medals as follows.:-
Grade 1 : Darjah Setia Utama
Grade 2 : Darjah Bakti Perkasa
Grade 3 : Pingat Jasa Gemilang
Grade 4 : Pingat Jasa Cemerlang
Grade 5 : Pingat Jasa Terpuji
Past Commissioners of the St. John Ambulance Brigade
Dr. R.B. Mac Gregor
Dr. R. Anderson
Dr. Chang Hoey Chan 1957 – 1966
Y. Bhg. Dato’ Seri Dr. Haji Megat Khas 1966 – 1972
Past and Present Commanders-in-Chief of St. John Ambulance of Malaysia
Y. Bhg. Tan Sri Abdul Kadir bin Shamsuddin 1972 –
Dr. P.T. Arasu
Y. Bhg. Dato’ Zainal Abidin bin Endot
Mr. E. Paramasivam
Maj. Gen. Lai Chung Wah
Y. Bhg. Dato’ Dr. Low Bin Tick 1993 – 2017