Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bayan Baru Toastmasters - Early History

With our 15th Anniversary dinner celebration just around the corner, I thought I share our club family tree and a bit of history. Happy reading.

The first Toastmasters Club in Malaysia is "Toastmasters International Kuala Lumpur". It was chartered in July 1978 by expatriates working in Klang Valley. Many year later, I met the Club sponsor at a Division Speech Contest in KL where he was invited as a judge - he is Mr. Sheppard from New Zealand.

In 1979-80, Ismail and members of TIKL drove north to help form Taiping Toastmasters Club and Butterworth Toastmasters (meets in Penang island) which were both chartered in 1980.

In 1985, Butterworth Toastmasters helped to charter YMCA Penang Toastmasters.

Then, YMCA Penang helped to charter National Semiconductor Toastmasters (later renamed Fairchild Toastmasters) in 1988 and Penang Development Corporation (PDC) Toastmasters in 1989.

In 1996, both Margaret Chan (PDC) and SL Liew (dual member National Semiconductor, Butterworth) sponsored and helped to charter Bayan Baru Toastmasters Club.

So the family tree:
TI KL - Butterworth - YMCA Penang - PDC/National Semiconductor - Bayan Baru

In 1995, I was busy as the District 51 Lieutenant Governor of Marketing. After almost six months of demonstration meetings to attract banking officers and staff, I finally helped to charter IBBM Penang (Institute Bank Bank Malaysia) Toastmasters. Interestingly, Jessica Teo's father was a charter member, current District Governor Thannimalai became a member and Past President Joachim Xavier was always a guest because he could not join as he did not work in the bank.

In 1995, there were few Toastmasters Clubs in Penang island - Penang @Light Street, Butterworth @Tanjung Bungah, YMCA Penang @YMCA which were open to the public. The inhouse clubs were MIM (Malaysian Institute of Management) @Anson Road, Intel Penang, PDC and National Semiconductor.

Bayan Baru Toastmastesr was the brainchild of Past President Dr. Janet Lim who wanted to start a club in Bayan Baru and FIZ area that was open to the public. Janet approached Margaret Chan to form a club in the Bayan Baru area. Margaret then roped me in as co-sponsor as I had the experience of chartering IBBM Penang.

I remembered going to then newly open Sunshine Square to get permission to put a poster inviting members of public to join this new club. Margaret contacted Star to put an announcement in the newspaper. We decided to arrange for the first demo meeting in the beginning of the year of 1996.

The Bayan Baru Residents Association agreed to our proposal for Bayan Baru Toastmasters Club to be one of the RA new activities and provide the RA hall at the field at 1 Jalan Nibong as the meeting venue. Our club members also paid membership fee to be RA members until later we became "independent" as a society registered with the Registrar of Society (ROS).

Life was interesting at the RA hall. We frequently had to "chase out" the women aerobic group so that our meeting could start on time. Club members all helped to carry tables, chairs and benches from the store room to set up the meeting. There was no air conditiong at first, just ceiling fans and members had to speak louder than the sounds of barking dogs, passing motorcycles and overhead aeroplane.

We had more than 40 people attending the first demo meeting. Learning from my past experience of IBBM, we decided that we will charter the club on the first meeting, rather than six months later - strike when the iron is hot.

During the demo meeting, we announced that all those interested to join to stay back and sign up and we would conduct an election. We had more than 20 members signing up and held a protem EGM to elect the Protem Committee. The protem President was Adrian Ang and protem VPE was Nailul Murad who worked in USM and we held the first Protem Exco meeting to plan the 2nd meeting. As a new club needed a sponsoring club and two club mentors, PDC was selected as the sponsoring club and PDC members Lee So Cheran and Rizal Fauzi became Club mentors.

Of all the charter members at the first demo meeting, I remembered Mah Ting Keong who came after reading the announcement in the Star. He said that by joining he had met two of his new year resolutions - to learn something new and to meet more people.

For our charter night, I was the "director" of the sketch about joining and the purpose of Toastmasters. Members wore different traditional costumes. with Mah Swee Chin in cheongsam with a fan. Our guest of honor was the Honorable Chief Minister Koh Tsu Khoon and our Charter President Adrian Ung drove all the way from KL to make it to the dinner but alas, Tsu Khoon did not show up and sent a last minute representative.

In 1997, Dr. Janet Lim was the second Club President and the VPE was Joachim Xavier. We moved to Panther's Club, opposite PISA. It was like moving from economy class to business class. There were iced water jugs and sweets on the prearranged table with table cloth and skirting. Noodles or fried rice, cakes and drinks were catered and served at the refreshment hall outside meeting room where we dined on tables and chairs. That year, our club always attracted many regular guests and visiting Toastmasters.

Click here for the pictorial history of Bayan Baru Toastmasters

Hope you have enjoy reading something about our family tree and early history. Let us celebrate our 15th Anniversary and many happy returns.

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