HISTORY: The Rotary Club of Johor Baru has answered the call of duty to the public in many ways in the past six decades
JOHOR BARU: LAST Saturday, the Rotary Club of Johor Baru celebrated 60 years of service with a dinner that also saw the installation of its 61st president, Francis Gopal.
With 65 members, the club is the second largest in District 3310.
The event was graced by members of the Johor royal family represented by the Tunku Mahkota of Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, and Tunku Abdul Rahman Sultan Ibrahim.
A highlight of the celebration was a brief history of the club in a visual presentation.
The club began when Dr Richard Harvey Isaacs, an anaesthetist from Cornwall, England, was posted to work with the Johor Baru General Hospital, now called Hospital Sultanah Aminah, more than 60 years ago.
He was formerly from the Royal Selangor Rotary Club in Kuala Lumpur.
When he joined the Rotary Club of Singapore, he 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 in June 1952.
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 being established in Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Seremban and Singapore.
The first group met in October 1951 with weekly meetings held at the Johore Civil Service Club (now the Johor Cultural and Sports Club).
Eventually, the Provisional Rotary Club of Johor Baru was formed with over 20 members.
The inaugural installation dinner where Dr Isaacs was made the first president was held in July 1952 at the Royal Johore International Club (now the Polo Club).
It was graced by the late Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar and his royal entourage.
Besides being the royal patron, Sultan Ibrahim also attended all the club’s installation dinners.
This tradition continued to this day.
A week before the anniversary dinner, Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar consented to be the royal patron of the club. He also donated two dialysis machines to the Rotary Haemodialysis Centre.
The centre had previously received six machines from the late Sultan Iskandar Sultan Ismail.
The life span of a dialysis machine that costs about RM50,000 is about 5 years as it would be expensive to maintain beyond this period.
“This year we carried out more projects than we planned,” said immediate past president Ng Swee Poh as he described the community projects completed since last year up to the present.
The Rotary Haemodialysis Centre is able to serve more than 60 patients at one time.
Since opening the centre in 1990, the club has inspired other Rotary Clubs to set up similar centres in Pontian, Kulai, Batu Pahat and other districts in Johor.
In addition to helping the centre for 22 years, the club has contributed towards the community in a wide range of services.
The club has held numerous medical camps in various towns, one in Sarawak, a joint event with the Kulai and Changi (Singapore) clubs was held for the first time last November.
It was dubbed the “model medical camp” where at least 10 medical officers were able to serve some 410 members of the public.
The Health Department, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and private practitioners teamed up resources to enable the group’s partnership to benefit the public.
Rotarians have been working to end the spread of the polio virus since 1985.
Their work was rewarded when the last polio cases in the country 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.
The event raised RM180,000.
To raise more funds, Rotarians went on a gruelling End Polio Trans-Sabah Walk and Climb in November last year — a 12-day walk from Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu with a trek across the Crocker Range and climb up Mount Kinabalu.
In its dengue eradication project, the club joined forces with other Rotary Clubs, non-governmental organisations, government agencies and private companies to make Johor Baru a cleaner and healthier place to live in.
The club was also involved in numerous social projects to improve the living conditions of the 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 less fortunate.
Besides training and equipping Interactors in schools with leadership skills, the club also hosted young people from other countries to promote cross-cultural exchanges.
Over the years, RCJB established a close relationship with sister clubs in Japan and the Philippines whose members attended the anniversary dinner.
Between 1995 and 1997, the Rotary Club of Haramachi-Chuo contributed ¥3 million yen (RM120,000) towards the Rotary Haemodialysis Centre.
In the wake of the Japanese tsunami and earthquake in March last year, the club returned the Japanese club’s goodwill by quickly raising one million yen for the club in Fukushima, the prefecture directly in the path of destruction.
A renewal of the Sister Club Agreement and signing of the Memorandum of Joint Projects was signed with K. Shibusha, the Rotary Club of Haramachi-Chuo president, and Leo Santos, president of the Rotary Club of Marbel.
Since 2000, the club has been actively carrying out Mercy Missions at Koronadal, South Cotabato in Mindanao, the Philippines to provide surgeries for children with cleft and harelips.
For his selfless contribution in this international project, Rotarian Dr Angamuthu Rajoo was recognised as The Rotarian of the Year.