Brief History of Rotary Club of Singapore

The year 1930 saw the Rotary flame kindle in Singapore. On June 6, 75 leading members of the community representing 20 different nationalities met at Raffles Hotel to inaugurate the first Rotary Club in Singapore. The flame was fanned by the visions of men like James W. Davidson, Lim Bock Kee and the founding President, Dato (Sir) Roland Braddell. The Board of Directors immediately set high standards for future Boards by organizing the first Malayan Rotary Clubs Conference in December 1930. Six months after its inauguration, the Club received its Charter under which it operates as Club No. 3360 on the roll of Rotary International.

By 1939, membership had risen to 148 and the Singapore Rotary was the most cosmopolitan in the world, helping by example, in a small way, to foster the Singapore tradition of a multi-racial community living in peace and harmony.

After the war in 1945, the Club started to function again, growing steadily in number each year making significant contributions to the welfare of the community and in promoting international understanding. By 1952, the Rotary Club of Johore Bahru became a reality through our sponsorship. Then came the Rotary Club of Singapore West in 1960 and the Rotary Club of Singapore East in 1965.

To show that it had not lost its spark and drive, the Club celebrated its Golden Jubilee by fathering the Rotary Club of Raffles City in 1980. In addition, it heralded its 55 years of service by increasing its membership to over 200. Women were finally admitted to the ranks in 1998/99.  In 1995, it again sponsored another club, this time in Cambodia, the Rotary Club of Phnom Penh, and in 2005 – the Rotary Club of Singapore Centennial.

Originally, the Rotary Club of Singapore was part of the Rotary district which covered seven countries: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei. After the Vietnam War, the District was narrowed down to Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore.  Subsequently, Thailand became a new District, and later, our current District 3310 was formed with Singapore, Johore, Malacca, Sabah, Sarawak, Labuan, and Brunei.

Currently, the Rotary Club of Singapore has about 140 members.  Now a great grandfather Club, albeit full of vigour and ever dedicated to the principles and ideals of Rotary: Service Above Self- our motto for 2016/17.

Let our past be but a prologue to the greater but creative future, and the history of our Club never fully written.

“WHATEVER ROTARY MAY MEAN TO US, TO THE WORLD IT WILL BE KNOWN BY THE RESULTS IT ACHIEVES.”

—PAUL P. HARRIS

Our 1.2 million-member organization started with the vision of one man—Paul P. Harris. The Chicago attorney formed one of the world’s first service organizations, the Rotary Club of Chicago, on 23 February 1905 as a place where professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships. Rotary’s name came from the group’s early practice of rotating meetings among the offices of each member.

OUR ONGOING COMMITMENT

Rotarians have not only been present for major events in history—we’ve been a part of them. From the beginning, three key traits have remained strong throughout Rotary:
We’re truly international. Only 16 years after being founded, Rotary had clubs on six continents. Today we’re working together from around the globe both digitally and in-person to solve some of our world’s most challenging problems.
We persevere in tough times. During WWII, Rotary clubs in Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Japan were forced to disband. Despite the risks, many continued to meet informally and following the war’s end, Rotary members joined together to rebuild their clubs and their countries.
Our commitment to service is ongoing. We began our fight against polio in 1979 with a project to immunize 6 million children in the Philippines. By 2012, only three countries remain polio-endemic—down from 125 in 1988.

NOTABLE ROTARIANS

Rotarians are your neighbors, your community leaders and some of the world’s greatest history-makers: 
  • Warren G. Harding, U.S. president
  • Jean Sibelius, Finnish composer
  • Dr. Charles H. Mayo, co-founder of Mayo Clinic
  • Guglielmo Marconi, Italian inventor of the wireless radio and Nobel laureate
  • Thomas Mann, German novelist and Nobel laureate
  • Friedrich Bergius, German chemist and Nobel laureate
  • Admiral Richard E. Byrd, American explorer
  • Jan Masaryk, foreign minister of Czechoslovakia
  • H.E. Soleiman Frangieh, president of Lebanon
  • Dianne Feinstein, U.S. senator
  • Manny Pacquaio, Filipino world-champion boxer and congressman
  • Richard Lugar, U.S. senator
  • Frank Borman, American astronaut
  • Edgar A. Guest, American poet and journalist
  • Sir Harry Lauder, Scottish entertainer
  • Franz Lehar, Austrian composer
  • Lennart Nilsson, Swedish photographer
  • James Cash Penney, founder of JC Penney Co.
  • Carlos Romulo, UN General Assembly president
  • Sigmund Sternberg, English businessman and philanthropist
Ready to make history with us? Get involved.