Life Saving Society Malaysia
The Life Saving Society Malaysia (LSSM), which began as the “Royal Life Saving Society Malaysian Branch”, originated in the year 1964. Although as early as 1927 a group of lifesavers had been trained in the Bronze Medallion under Lee Fong Lim at the Penang Chinese Swimming Club, the establishment of the RLSS Malaysian Branch marked the beginning of organised life saving in the country.
In 1961, the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, the Grand President of the RLSS Commonwealth Council visited Kuala Lumpur and met with Mr. Teoh Teik Lee, who was then the local representative for the RLSS United Kingdom. His Lordship proposed the formation of an autonomous national life saving organisation that was consistent with the independent status of the country. This step would also ensure the co-ordination and orderly development of the life saving movement nation-wide. This proposal had the blessing of the then Prime Minister, Y.T.M. Tunku Abdul Rahman, who not only gave his full support, but also consented to be the Patron of the Society.
Thus it came about that the early development of the RLSS Malaysian Branch was associated with two very illustrious names – the Earl Mountbatten of Burma and Y.T.M. Tunku Abdul Rahman. The RLSS Malaysian Branch was formed in the inaugural meeting on the 9th December, 1964, and Mr. Teoh Teik Lee was elected the first President of the Society, a position he held for twelve years.
Three years later on 14th February, 1967 at “Carcosa”, the residence of the British High Commissioner, the Society received its “Instrument of Membership” to the RLSS Commonwealth Council from the Grand President, Earl Mountbatten of Burma. This auspicious ceremony held under the patronage of Y.T.M. Tunku Abdul Rahman was witnessed by dignitaries and representatives from Commonwealth nations, including the Honourable Justice Joske, President of the Royal Life Saving Society -Australia. Malaysia became the 5th Branch of the RLSS Commonwealth Council.
The founding years of the Society were difficult ones. The task of promoting life saving in a climate that lacked civic awareness of the importance of water safety and survival skills taxed the small band of volunteer workers of the Society to the limit of their resources.
Nevertheless, under the constant personal attention of the Grand President, who made regular visits to Kuala Lumpur to look in on the progress of the Society, and the encouragement given by Y.T.M. Tunku Abdul Rahman, many obstacles were overcome, and a slow but steady progress was made towards training an increasing number of life savers among the youth of the country.
During this period of growth, the Society received much needed help by the way of technical information, handbooks and stocks of medallions from many of the Commonwealth nations. This prompt and ready response to call for assistance in the common cause of life saving is another living manifestation of the Commonwealth spirit.
In the first year of operation, the Society managed to train 50 lifesavers. Three years later this annual total reached 500, and the figure doubled itself in 1970. In the early 80’s, interest in lifesaving activities spread to more states in the country resulting in a healthy growth in training statistics and producing an annual average of 3.500 life saving awards.
The mission of the Society is to reduce the loss of life through accidental drowning and emergencies arising from cardiac arrest. It strives to meet these objectives through programmes aimed at:
- promoting public awareness of water safety as a basic of teaching swimming to people, especially children
- increasing the number of trained life savers
- encouraging the formation of lifeguard corps
- conducting clinics in cardiorespiratory resuscitation
- promoting life saving as a sport.
In 1994 the Society became a full member of the International Life Saving Federation.