Nurturing/ Teaching Courses
Spiritual Formation Institute
The Boys’ Brigade in Malaysia
William Alexander Smith was born in Thurso, Scotland in 1854. He moved to
Glasgow in his teens and became involved in church activities. William was also
a lieutenant in the 1st Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers in 1883 while he was
teaching in the North Woodside Mission Sunday School. While working with the
children in church, he discovered the need for wholesome activities for children
outside school hours. William Smith shared his ideas with his two friends, which
later invited boys from North Woodside Mission Sabbath School and formed the
first company of The Boys' Brigade, 1st Glasgow Company on 4th of October 1883.
It is the world's first uniform organization, even before the Scouts.
William was the first Brigade Secretary in 1887 where he worked towards
spreading the Brigade across the world. In 1909, King Edward VII knighted
William Smith for his contribution towards youth development. Five years later,
Sir William Alexander Smith passed away. Throughout his lifetime, Sir William A.
Smith poured out all that he has into BB and he is best remembered as the man
who spells Boy with a capital 'B'.
The original object of the Boys' Brigade is the advancement of Christ's Kingdom
among Boys and the promotion of habits of obedience, reverence, discipline,
self-respect and all that tend towards a true Christian manliness. Christian
“manliness” was developed by the use of a semi-military discipline and order,
gymnastics, summer camps and religious services and classes. Christian manliness
was changed to Christian character when girls were admitted to the BB.
However, the BB did not appear in the Asian scene until 1915 when the first
Company was founded in the Chinese city of Swatow by the Rev Guthrie Gamble (the
famous Swatow BB was to become a legend in later years in China) The BB came to
South East Asia in 1930 with the founding of the 1st Singapore Company by Mr
The Boys’ Brigade did not come to Malaya until the after the second World War. A
British soldier by the name of Robert Davis (former Captain of 6th Birkenhead
Company at the Tranmere Freehold Methodist Church and later Tranmere United
Reformed Church) gave the idea of The Boys’ Brigade to one of Penang’s great
educationist, the late Mr Geh Hun Kheng, who accepted the challenge becoming the
first BB Captain in Malaya. Mr Geh realised that he had to do his "small share"
to win the Boys over from the various subversive groups that were so rife after
the Pacific War. The first meeting of 20 Boys was held in the Methodist Church
in Madras Lane on a Sunday in September 1946. Penang thus became the springboard
from which Companies were started first in Kuala Lumpur and then in other parts
of the country.
The 2nd Penang Company was started by Paul Juby. [Paul is also
called "Robokop" because of his two artificial hips. He is the
Vice-President of the Boys' Brigade in Malaysia. Every 3-4 years he will lead a
climb of Mount Kinabalu to raise fund for BB Asia. He is 75 years old and the
next climb is scheduled for 2008].
When Malaysia achieved independence on 31 August 1957, The Boys’
Brigade was given the honour of being invited to take part in the Merdeka Parade
(Independence Day Parade).
After Merdeka (Independence), The Boys’ Brigade began to spread rapidly as a
result of the formation of the Malayan Council of The Boys’ Brigade under the
initiative of Mr Khoo Oon Soo. More and more Companies were founded in every
major town in Malaya. Even small rural towns began to have BB Companies
functioning efficiently. By this time firm and friendly contact had been made
with the BB in Singapore which helped in the supply and sale of equipment and
with the founding of the first Company in Borneo in 1959, the 1st Kuching
Company. In 1962, the BB in Malaya became a member of the Pacific Regional
Fellowship (subsequently joined the East Asia Regional Fellowship when it was
formed later) and the first Pacific camp was held with the co-operation of the
Singapore Battalion in Port Dickson in December 1963.
On 5 December 1964, the former Federation of Malaya Council of The Boys’
Brigade, the Singapore Battalion and the 1st Kuching Company merged into The
Boys’ Brigade in Malaysia. With the political separation of Singapore from
Malaysia, The Boys’ Brigade in Singapore ceased to be a component District of
The Boys’ Brigade in Malaysia as on 19 August 1965. With Malaysia a reality the
National Council began to establish Companies in Sabah and Sarawak, maintaining
friendly ties with the BB in Singapore.
The development of The Boys’ Brigade in Malaysia took a revolutionary turn when
it invited girls to be members. It was first introduced in 1989 and debated for
a few years before experimental measures were approved in 1992. The move
received favourable response and strong support from churches and individuals.
Starting of the girls’ wing was to cater for the girls in a locality where a
Girls’ Brigade Company did not exist. Today, more than 20 companies in the BBM
have girls on their membership roll, and many girls have been appointed NCOs,
and they have proven to be capable in adapting well to the activities of the BB.
Since 1992, The Boys’ Brigade in Malaysia has also begun to play significant
role in the extension of BB work in the East Asia Regional Fellowship, including
conducting training and support BB works in Indonesia, Thailand and the
Today, there are over 70 Companies spread throughout the length and breadth of
Malaysia. Ever since the setting up of a BBHQ in 1989, a permanent building has
been purchased, and currently staffed by a team of 5 able full-time personnel.
The Boys’ Brigade in Malaysia has come a long way since 1946. Many things have
since changed, many had come and gone with many new developments taken place.
Throughout all these years, the BBM has been able to hold on to its object and
continue in serving the youth of Malaysia. As the nation is fast moving towards
greater heights in development, it is believed that the BB shall be called on to
play an even greater role in the development and training of the Malaysian
The BB is recognised by Kementerian Belia dan Sukan Malaysia as a youth body and
by Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia as a school's extra co-curricular activity.
This means BB is the only formally recognized uniformed Christian youth
organization recognized by the government and allowed to be part of the schools
extra co-curricular activities. BB is also an affliated member of Majlis Belia
Malaysia and Council of Churches of Malaysia
The Advancement of Christ's Kingdom among members and the promotion of habits of
Obedience, Reverence, Discipline, Self-Respect and all that tends towards a true
SURE & STEDFAST (taken from Hebrews 6:19). The original Old English (King James
Version) spelling of "Stedfast" has been retained.
The emblem is original an anchor. Like the motto it stems from the verse "We
have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:19)
The modern logo
|posted 2 October 2006|
revised|6 October 2006|