Bro. Patrick O’Donovan

Perak was among the earliest states to form St. John Ambulance Association (SJAA) in Malaya. It was registered on 15 August 1938 at a meeting held at the Ipoh Town Hall at 6 p.m.. Sir Geoffrey Edmund Cator, British Resident of Perak presided. Dr. Joshua Isadore Baeza, Perak State Medical and Health Officer was the Association’s first Chairman from 1938 to 1941. However, First Aid training was held in Taiping as early as 1916 [1].

St. John Ambulance Brigade (SJAB) Perak’s Division One was formed in St. Michael’s Institution during the tenure of the Rev. Brother Director Patrick O’Donovan on 16 September 1940 with an enrollment of 46 members.

En. Francis Anthony Lim Guan Choe was its first Divisional Superintendent, who later became the most active Secretary/Treasurer of SJAA Perak and eventually the SJAB Area Commissioner. In preparation for war, the St. John movement was actively training members to be stretcher bearers and first aiders. The members and officers also participated in air raid blackout exercises in Ipoh. First Aid classes were also conducted in Malay, Tamil and Mandarin as medium of instruction.

Mr. Lim Guan Choe

When war broke out in 1941, 23 SJAB members from Ipoh, led by En. Lim Kean Hooi acted swiftly to help. SJAB members served on the field ferrying casualties to Casualty Posts. At various locations such as Taiping, Batu Gajah, Teluk Anson and Tapah, SJAB members were drafted into the Medical Auxiliary Service.

When the Japanese Army invaded Ipoh, members retreated to the south and eventually to Singapore where they continued to serve. All 23 members from Ipoh returned home safely after the war. St. John Ambulance was revived on 5 January 1946 and became one of the most active organisations especially so during the chairmanship of YM Raja Musa bin Raja Mahadi.

On 16 September 1951, the first Brigade inspection was graced by the Sultan of Perak, with the attendance of the British Adviser of Perak, Sir Dato’ Ian William Blelloch (2 August 1901 – 25 March 1982), SJAB Malaya Deputy Commissioner Mr. George William Somerville and Federal Organiser Ms. Ivy Agnes Richer from London Headquarters.

The inaugural Perak State First Aid Competition was held in July 1956, a year before the first federal competition was organised. The first competition shield was named Dato’ Blelloch Shield. Perak also won the nursing team test at the Federal Competition held in Kuala Lumpur on 14 December 1957 and the Dato’ Lee Kong Chian Gold Challenge Trophy at the Malayan-Singapore Competitions held in August 1962.

Mr. Lim Kean Hooi

St. John Ambulance Perak produced many leaders who eventually became senior officers of the organisation. Dr. Chang Hoey Chan, SJAB Malaya District Commissioner from 1957 to 1965 was the Divisional Surgeon for General Division in Ipoh. Dato’ Seri Dr. Haji Megat Khas Megat Omar, SJAB Malaya District Commissioner from 1966 to 1972 was the first Divisional Surgeon for the Malay Division in Ipoh. En. Paramasivam s/o Elaguppillay, SJAM Commander-in-Chief from 1987 to 1991, was a member of SJAB Taiping before the war.

“Lai See Ming, Hoo We Tak, Jimmy Low Ghim Meng. (2009). St. John Ambulance in Perak. In A Remarkable Century of Service, p. 38-39. Kuala Lumpur. Print. (With some amendments)”

[1] Untitled (1916, March 7). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
[2] Photos retrieved from several St. Michael’s Institution school magazines and SJAA & SJAB States of Malaya – Records and Activities for Period 1945-1965