Jabatan Pendaftaran Pertubuhan Malaysia

Establishment History

During British colonial rule, the British actively encouraged the arrival of the Chinese to Malaya, as the country was known at that time.

The Chinese immigrants were mainly involved in tin mining and trading activities. They comprised various dialect groups such as the Hakka who came from rural Kwangtung, the Cantonese from Canton, the Hokkien from Amoy District in southern Fukien and other clans who could be differentiated through their dialects, cultures and economic functions. While in Malaya, they grouped together to form the huay kuan and kongsi.

In terms of membership, the huay kuan was restricted to those who originated from the same province in China and belonged to the same dialect group, while the membership of kongsi was opened to those who bore the same surname. There was also an occupation based group called shay-hui as well as other societies focused on welfare, religion, socio-culture and entertainment. The primary purposes of the huay kuan, kongsi and shay-hui were to act as a collaborative body for mutual benefit, promote a feeling of belonging and look after the well-being of its members. In general, these bodies were welfare oriented and provided assistance to members who had just arrived from China to seek employment while offering them a place to stay.

In addition to the bodies mentioned above, there were also secret societies (mentioned in the act as the ‘triad societies’) carrying out anti-social activities with the use of violence that threatened the structure of British administration. Consequently, in stages, the British colonial administration managed to control the situation by taking the following measures:

  • Establishing the position of ‘Secretary for Chinese Affairs’ (SCA) who was responsible for administering the affairs of the Chinese and controlling their undesirable activities and crime.
  • Establishing the Societies Enactment 1899 in the Federated States with the aim of curbing the activities of the Chinese who had increased in number.
  • Amending the 1899 Enactment in 1913 with a provision stating that the officer in charge, the ‘Registrar of Society’, would give special attention to the issue of managing all societies existing then. This was the beginning of the regulatory functions of the Registrar of Societies on society activities. This enactment was amended from time to time, i.e. in 1927, 1947 and 1949.
  • The Societies Enactment which was amended in 1949 was enforced on 1 September 1949 requiring the registration of all existing societies. Until 31 December 1949, a total of 1,590 societies had been registered. This enactment remained in force until after Malaya achieved its independence in 1957.
  • The enactment of 1899 was again legislated by Parliament in 1965/66 and came into force on 1 February 1966 as the Societies Act 1966 (Act 13 of 1966). The 1966 act is a merger of three separate ordinances before it was approved, i.e. the Ordinance of 1949 for the Federation of Malaya, Societies Ordinance 1957 for Sarawak and Societies Ordinance 1961 for Sabah. As a consequence of the 1966 act, the Registry of Societies was established in 1966 to enforce the act, after it was separated from the Registry of Trade Unions.


The names of the Registrars of Societies since the department’s established are as follows:

  • J. B. Prentis (1949-1956) - Registrar of Trade Unions (Registrar-General of the Registrar of Societies, Registrar of Companies, Official Assignee and Trade Union)
  • Justice M. G. Neal (1954 –1956)
  • Justice J. G. Adam (1956 –1959)
  • Mr M. M. Hashim (1959 –1960)
  • Mr Bahauddin bin Mohd Yaacob (1960 –1961)
  • Mr Chin Hon Hian (1961–1969)
  • Mr Kassim bin Haji Mohd Amin (1969 –1977)
  • Mr Mustafa bin Zain (1977–1978)
  • Mr Ahmad Kamal bin Mohd Sahaja (1978 –1982)
  • Ms Zakiah Hashim (1982 –1996)
  • Mr Mohiyaddin bin Che’ Jan (1996 – 2001)
  • Dato’ Ismail bin Dolah Harun (2001 – 2003)
  • Dato’ Dahri bin Ibrahim (2003 – 2004)
  • Dato’ Haji Kaswuri bin Keman (2004 – 2006)
  • Dato’ Wahid bin Md Don (2006 – 30 September 2006)
  • Dato’ Haji Md Alias bin Haji Kalil (1 October 2006 – 2010)
  • Dato' Abdul Rahman Bin Othman(1 December 2010 - 30 September 2013)
  • Encik Mohammad Razin Bin Abdullah (1 Oktober 2013  to the present)