Sixty years of service

The Tunku Mahkota of Johor cutting the anniversary cake
Celebrating 60 years of service to the community

On 23 June 2012, the Rotary Club of Johor Baru (RCJB) celebrated 60 years of service with a dinner that coincided with the installation of their 61st President, Francis Gopal, for the Rotary year 2012 - 2013.  With 65 members, the RCJB is the second largest club in District 3310.  In the tradition of RCJB, the event was graced by members of the Johor royal family represented by DYAM Tunku Mahkota Johor, Tunku Ismail Idris Ibni DYMM Sultan Ibrahim and DYAM Tunku Abdul Rahman Ibni DYMM Sultan Ibrahim.

Immediate Past President Ng Swee Poh [Right]
congratulating Francis Gopal on his installation
as the RCJB's 61st President on 23 June 2012
One of the highlights of the celebration was a visual show in Sixty Years of Service with a brief history when Dr Richard Harvey Isaacs, an anesthetist from Cornwall, England, was posted to work with the Johor Baru General Hospital – now called Hospital Sultanah Aminah – more than sixty years ago.  He was formerly from the Royal Selangor Rotary Club in Kuala Lumpur and as he joined the Rotary Club of Singapore for meetings regularly, Dr Isaacs saw the need for such a club to serve the community in Johor Baru. 

With the help of the Singapore club, the Rotary Club of Johor Baru was chartered on 27 June 1952 and this year marks the club’s Diamond Anniversary.

At that time, the Rotary International movement founded by Paul Harris in 1905 was already 46 years old and between 1929 and 1930, Rotary Clubs were established in Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Seremban and Singapore.  The first group of interested people met in October 1951 with weekly meetings held at the Johore Civil Service Club (now known as the Johor Cultural & Sports Club).  Eventually, the Provisional Rotary Club of Johor Baru was formed with 20 over members. 

RCJB Past President Dr K N Singh with a patient
at the medical camp in Kulai last year
The inaugural installation dinner where Dr Isaacs was installed as the first president of RCJB was held on 22 July 1952 at the Royal Johore International Club (Polo Club).  It was graced by the late HRH Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar Al-Masyhur Ibni Abu Bakar and a royal entourage and besides being the Royal Patron, HRH Sultan Ibrahim also maintained a royal presence at all the club’s installation dinners.  This proud tradition continued in the 60th anniversary event where members of the Johor royal family were also present. 

Facade of Rotary Haemodialysis Center in JB

A week before the event on 23 June 2012, a group of Rotarians had an audience with DYMM Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar where HRH the Johor Sultan consented to be the Royal Patron of RCJB and generously donated 2 units of haemodialysis machines to the Rotary Haemodialysis Centre.  The Centre had previously received the kind donation of 6 units from the late HRH Sultan Iskandar Ibni Sultan Ismail.  The economic lifespan of a dialysis machine that costs about RM50,000, is about 5 years because it would become expensive to maintain beyond those years.  

“This year, we carried out more projects than we planned,” said Immediate Past President Ng Swee Poh, as he outlined the many local and foreign community projects completed in 2011 - 2012.  With 20 over machines operating in 2-shifts, the Rotary Haemodialysis Centre is able to serve more than 60 patients.  Since opening the centre in 1990, RCJB has inspired other Rotary Clubs to set up similar centres in Pontian, Kulai, Batu Pahat and other districts in Johor.  In addition to operating the centre for 22 years, the RCJB has contributed towards the community in a wide range of services. 

Rotarian Ranjeet Singh with residents of a
welfare home in Skudai in 2010
While the RCJB has held numerous Medical Camps in various towns as well as one in the interior of Sarawak, a joint event with the clubs in Kulai and Changi Singapore was held for the first time last November.  It was dubbed the “Model Medical Camp” where at least 10 medical officers were available to meet the target of serving some 410 members of the public.  The teaming up of resources from the health department, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and private practitioners, not only allowed the group’s partnership but also the public to benefit from the resulting synergy.

The End Polio Walk from Kuala Lumpur to Johor Baru
last year saw many Rotarians taking part
Rotarians have been working to end the spread of the polio virus since 1985 and the last polio cases in Malaysia were reported in 1992.  In December 2010, a group of Rotarians and Rotaractors took part in a Walk to End Polio that covered 400km over 11 days from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore that raised RM180,000.  To raise more funds, Rotarians went on a grueling End Polio Trans-Sabah Walk and Climb in November 2011, a 12-day walk from Sandakan on the East to Kota Kinabalu in the West with a trek across the Crocker Range and the exciting Mount Kinabalu climb. 

Fit and adventurous Rotarians in the Trans-Sabah
Walk and Climb, 2011
In their Dengue Eradication Project, the club joined forces with other Rotary Clubs, Non-Governmental Organizations, government agencies and private companies to make Johor Baru a cleaner and healthier place to live in.  The club was also involved with numerous social projects to improve the living conditions of the hardcore poor and underprivileged as well as the terminally ill through the Palliative Care Association of Johor Baru.  Members actively participated in repainting buildings and sharing goodwill with the needy.  Besides training and equipping Interactors in schools with leadership skills, the club also hosted young people from other countries to promote cross-cultural exchanges.

The club donating a van to the Palliative Care Association
of Johor Baru; 
[Left to Right] Jason Tan, Dr Anga and Tan Chee Seng
Over the years, RCJB established a close relationship with sister clubs in Japan and the Philippines and some of their members were present at the anniversary celebration.  Between 1995 and 1997, the Rotary Club of Haramachi-Chuo contributed 3 million Japanese Yen toward the Rotary Haemodialysis Centre.  In the wake of the March 2011 Japanese tsunami and earthquake, the RCJB returned their goodwill by quickly raising 1 million Japanese Yen that was sent to the Rotary Club of Haramachi-Chuo which was situated in Fukushima, directly in the path of destruction.  

A renewal of Sister Club Agreement and signing of Memorandum of Joint Projects was signed with K. Shibusha, the Rotary Club of Haramachi-Chuo president and with Leo Santos, president of the Rotary Club of Marbel.  Since 2000, RCJB has been carrying out Mercy Missions at Koronadal, South Cotabato in Mindanao, the Philippines to provide multiple surgeries for children with cleft and harelips.  For his selfless contribution in this international project, Rotarian Dr Angamuthu Rajoo was recognized as The Rotarian of the Year. 

Rotarians helping to paint a senior care home in Senai
Peggy [Right] with some of the Rotarian spouses
at the 60th anniversary celebration
A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Johor Streets on 29 June 2012

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