Club's History

Mr. K.T. Joseph, the headmaster of Bukit Mertajam High School was the driving force behind the formation of Rotary Club of Butterworth. In October 1959, the club received its charter from Rotary International and the first president was Mr. K. T. Joseph himself.

Our club was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Penang and were originally know as the Rotary Club of Bukit Mertajam and the weekly meetings were held at the Rest House, Bukit Mertajam.The territorial limit of our club extended over the whole of Province Wellesley right up to South Kedah. The charter members numbered 34 and most of them were Europeans. By the year 1966, the venue of the weekly meetings were moved to Butterworth in view of the fact that most of the members were from Butterworth except for two from Kulim.

From dinner meetings, we changed to lunch meetings at the Tin Club, Butterworth. By this time almost all the Rotarians in the club were Malaysians. In 1968, Rotary International agreed to our proposal that the club’s name be changed to Rotary Club of Butterworth and the territorial limits were limited to Province Wellesley (now known as Seberang Perai District). At around this time, we came into very lean times when our membership dropped to just six members.

The 6 remaining Rotarians were Robert David, Dr. Michael, the late Syed Hassan, the late Kurian and the late M.P. Mathew. In just a year, we brought up our membership to 18 and were rewarded the District 330 membership Development trophy in 1970. From 1970 onwards, members of the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) Base showed interest in Rotary and a number of them joined us. At one time, out of a membership of 25, 12 of them were from RAAF. Until their departure in the 1980’s, RAAF personnel were very much a part of our Rotary Club. From the Tin Club, RC Butterworth moved their meeting venue to the Butterworth Library at Jalan Pantai and that is where the Club donated 10,000 books to the library under the World Community Service Project. From there, we shifted to the Gala Restaurant in the old Hotel Kuala Lumpur and thereafter to the Rose Restaurant at Jin Mohd Saad, Bagan Jermal.

Special mention must be made of two outstanding honorary member from that period Air Commodre Bemie Reynolds, O.C. RAAF Base Butterworth and Dato Mohd Feisol b. Hj. Hassan, President of the Municipal Council, Seberang Perai. They rendered the club invaluable and unselfish support in all our club
undertakings and their services will be always appreciated.

From 1975 onwards, the Club has been in the upward trend in all its activities. The club meetings moved to Travel Lodge, Butterworth and later on to our current venue of Safira Club, Seberang Jaya. The Club has carried out countless number of projects over the years, centered mainly on helping out the poor, the needy and the under privileged segments of the society. A few of our outstanding projects over the years deserve mention here. The club had used matching grants in the region of RM35,000 and RM40,000 respectively to put up a library in SJK(T) Ladang Prye, Prai and equip and supply SMK Convent, Bukit Mertajam with much needed furniture and equipment. We have also donated a multimedia lab to SMK St. Mark’s in 2012 consisting of 27 computers, printers for the use of the students. We bought a Haemodialysis machine for RM45,000 installed at the Bagan Specialist Centre for the use of poor patients at a low and affordable price. We have bought vans and continuously supply firefighting equipments worth thousands of ringgit to the firefighting associations of Bagan Ajam, Raja Uda, New Chain Ferry, Permatang Pauh, Juru, Kota Permai and Sg. Puyu.

In the early years, the public library in Butterworth received thousands of books through our efforts and we were also instrumental in setting up libraries in schools in Butterworth and Tasek Gelugor through World Community Service (WCS) assistance. We have organized medical camps and eye camps almost on an annual basis at different venues in mainland Penang that has brought much needed medical attention to the poor and needy. There are many more projects to enumerate but needless to say, each and every one of them had benefited the community enormously.

At the International level, we have a sister club in Phuket, Thailand since 2002 and we have undertaken a clean water supply project for a school there as well as supplying books and providing infrastructure for another school there. In 2009, the Club celebrated its 50th Golden Jubilee anniversary under the presidency and leadership of Dr. T. Kanagesvaran at the Safira Country Club. 

this write-up was penned in 2009 by the late ROBERT DAVID, a past President and distinguished member of the Club

How Rotary came about to Malaya

Rotary started with the vision of one man — Paul Harris. The Chicago attorney formed the Rotary Club of Chicago on 23 February 1905, so professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships.

Over time, Rotary’s reach and vision gradually extended to humanitarian service. Members have a long track record of addressing challenges in their communities and around the world. The members chose the name Rotary because initially they rotated subsequent weekly club meetings to each other’s offices, although within a year, the Chicago club became so large it became necessary to adopt the now-common practice of a regular meeting place.

The 1920’s were a time of great change. High prices for rubber and tin meant Malaya was becoming increasingly prosperous. Much of the civic infrastructure, such as the railway stations, post offices and law courts, were already in place, at least in the bigger towns. At the same time, the influx of migrant workers, mainly from China and India, had transformed Malaya’s demographics.

One day in late 1928, a ship steamed into Penang harbour. Among its passengers were James Wheeler Davidson, 56, his wife, Lillian and their 13 year-old daughter, Marjory. They were here on a mission. In the early days of Rotary, club extension was an obsession. Penang was a thriving port when Davidson visited it. Its prosperity attracted people from throughout the region, and it was truly a meeting place of different cultures. Penang had also received many celebrity visitors such as Somerset Maugham, Joseph Conrad and Noel Coward. Davidson described the formation of the Rotary club as follows:

“I was fortunate here in that the British Resident Councillor, Hon. Mr EWF Gilman, had previously become a member of the Kuala Lumpur Rotary Club. A strong group of seventy charter members including many desirable Chinese as well as a representation of Malays and Indians, brought Rotary into existence on August 12, 1930 …”

The inaugural dinner of the new club was held at the E&O Hotel. The club obtained its charter on 8 October 1930. The date the club was first organised is unclear. From Davidson’s account, it was 12 August 1930 whereas the club’s web site says it was exactly one year earlier, 12 August 1929.

This excerpt was extracted from the Rotary District 3300 webpage

Past Presidents of the Rotary Club of Butterworth

11959 / 60K.T. Joseph
21960 / 61Dr. R.B. Pillai
31961 / 62Ian Sayers
41962 / 63Peter Oon
51963 / 64Dr. Wong
61964 / 65Ian Sayers
71965 / 66Lim Bor Yee
81966 / 67Keith Mitchell
91967 / 68Ainsley Westerhout
101968 / 69M.P. Matthew J.P.
111969 / 70James Armstrong
121970 / 71M.P. Matthew J.P.
131971 / 72Syed Hassan b. Yahaya P.J.K
141972 / 73M.L. Paul / Dr. Sak Cheng Lam
151973 / 74Dr. Sak Cheng Lam
161974 / 75Salleh b. Hussein J.P., AMN., PJK
171975 / 76Robert David
181976 / 77Retnasingam / Khalid Metha PPN
191977 / 78Ismail b. Bakar
201978 / 79K Arthar Singh
211979 / 80Jagjit Singh
221980 / 81Jagjit Singh
231981 / 82Dr. N. Vadivelu
241982 / 83Robert David
251983 / 84R Savaridas
261984 / 85Abdul Majid b. Abu Bakar
271985 / 86Douglas David
281986 / 87Teoh Pek Kooi
291987 / 88N. Govindasamy
301988 / 89Jagjit Singh
311989 / 90Douglas David
321990 / 91Khoo Kay Suan
331991 / 92M. Srininvasan
341992 / 93C. Daniel / M. Srininvasan
351993 / 94K. Jeyabalan
361994 / 95A. Sree Vijayanagam
371995 / 96A. Sree Vijayanagam
381996 / 97David Chua Teik Siang
391997 / 98Raymond Danam
401998 / 99Raymond Danam
411999 / 00Mazlan S. Ismail
422000 / 01Joseph A. Stanislaus
432001 / 02Suresh Kumar
442002 / 03S. Seevaratnam
452003 / 04M. Gunaraj
462004 / 05Joseph A. Stanislaus
472005 / 06Dr. S.T. Pillai
482006 / 07Selvaratnam Paul
492007 / 08G. Sarkuru
502008 / 09Dr. G. Baskaran
512009 / 10Dr. T. Kanagesvaran
522010 / 11MC Khor
532011 / 12Selvaratnam Paul
542012 / 13Anantha N. Moorthi
552013 / 14Benjamin Sathyanandam
562014 / 15Shan Sundram
572015 / 16Shankar Kailainathan
582016 / 17Anantha N. Moorthi
592017 / 18Jagjit Singh
602018 / 19Dr. Sri Kumar Nair
612019 / 20K. Jeyabalan
622020 / 21Dr. PV Kalyan Chakravarthy
632021 / 22Jagjeet Singh / Benjamin Sathyanandam
642022 / 23Dr. Khishendran Selvam