MARTS celebrates 40th Anniversary on 31st August 1997

-Article in year 1997-


As the nation celebrates its 40th anniversary on 31st August, 1997, the MARTS which is now 45 years old, based on the unofficial year of its establishment in the middle of 1952, for the society now has its own role to play in the next millennium particularly with the formation of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) and the Cyber city.

MARTS together with amateurs clubs and associations worldwide join hands to thrive and strive for progress despite the presence of the fast expanding information superhighway including sophisticated multimedia and the internet.

MARTS as an established and responsible society with its facet of multiracial memberships is joining the bandwagon with others to salute the nation for this auspicious occasion.

The society born five years before the country was freed from the colonial yoke was founded by over zealous amateur enthusiasts among whom were VS2BS (Eu Khua Kew),VS2DB (S.A. Faulkner) J.C. Pearhouse (VS2DG) and VS2 DV (Charles Sulton). They could be described as midwives who were responsible for the birth of the society.

According to the surviving founder member 9M2BS (EU), who is now in his late seventies, that sometimes in the middle of 1952 together with few British radio enthusiasts who were influenced by the RSGB activities, residing in Penang had an Eye-Ball QSO at VS2DVs QTH to discuss on establishing radio amateur club in the island. The club is to run on the same model of RSGB. The Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) was founded in 1913 and incorporated in 1926.The decision was reached at the Eye-Ball QSO that the radio amateur club was to be formed. The arrangement was made to register the club as Malayan Amateur Radio Transmitters Society at the Posts and Telegraph Department in the Straits

Settlement of Penang Island. The call-sign given was VS2 to the qualified members.

The 9M2BS (EU) was the only Asian who became the member of the society which was dominated by the Whites, many of them were officers serving under the British Colonial Service. Also, many European managers from the rubber estates and tin mines in Kedah, Perak and Northern Selangor joined the society.

Later, several European business executives with technical background from commercial sector got involved in the hobby.

Earlier, a group of keen amateurs also initiated the setting up of radio amateur clubs in Selangor and Perak respectively. Both clubs were established in early 1947. According to a report by SA Faulkner 9M2DB (EX-VS2 DB) that the Selangor Radio Club was established in 1947 due to the hard work and untiring efforts of Jim Macintosh (VS2AA), Law Joo Ghin(VS2AO), N.L.Narayan(VS2CN) and two SWLs Au-Yong Siew Thong and Rodgers Rowe.

The Singapore Amateur Radio Transmitters Society was founded in 1949. It also followed the RSGB module. Among those who attended the inaugural meeting were Ted Yates (VS1AD), Reg Hollis -Bee (VS1AG), Mike deCruz (VS1DU), Ken de Souza (VS1CZ) and John Osborne(VS1 BO).

Majority members of radio clubs in Selangor and Perak were European managers from rubber estates and tin mines. Many of them on the termination of their contracts with tin mines and estates returned home. This was one of the factors that caused the membership of the clubs dwindled and its closure.

However, the Singapore Amateur Radio Transmitters Society continued with the Support from many of the British civil servants and business community. Besides, Singapore during the post-war days was the hub of financial and business activities for the British colony.

The 40-metre band was the most popular and it was fully utilised by HAMS in Singapore and Peninsular. It was only after Malaya became independent on 31st August, 1957, that the call-signs VS2 were changed to 9M2 till today.

According to a research report in a book entitled “Broadcasting in the Malay World’ by Prof. Drew 0. Me Daniel of Ohio University in the US, that radio broadcast in early colonial days of Malaya was initiated by radio amateur stations. In fact, in early 1930’s, amateur radio club pioneered the experimental broadcast in the country.

Based on the development of Broadcasting in Malaya, it was evidenced that during the experimental stage of radio broadcasting, the whole administrative system and communication activities were placed under the authority of the colonial Posts and Tetegraph Department.

The Kuala Lumpur Amateur Wireless Society (KLARS) was formed in November 1929. The KLARS for example was allowed to use the Posts and Telegraph transmitter located on Petaling Hill. Among those responsible for the KLARS were W.J.A. Mallon of Cumberbatch & Company, A.N. Farqhson of Hallam& Company and Dr Byrqn of the Institute Medical Research and James Macintosh (VS2AA).

However, no report was recorded of any experimental broadcast by radio amateur stations in the British North Borneo states in the pre-war days. For Sabah was placed under the rule of North Borneo Company and Sarawak headed by the “White Raja”, Vyner Brooke.

The KLARS station only broadcast local and social news besides the music for European community in Kuala Lumpur. Apart from the KLARS, The Penang Amateur Wireless Society was also set up in 1932 to provide news and music to the British community in Penang. The Penang Amateur Wireless Station operated with the station call-sign ZHJ.

The formal and professional broadcasting in the British colony of Malaya only began in March 1937, after the British government set up the British Malaya

Broadcasting Corporation (BMBC) with its station at Caldecott Hill in Singapore which later became the forerunner of Radio Malaya. The BMBC emulated the BBC system in its medium wave broadcast.

The BMBC also employed several BBC technical and engineering staff to run the
Station. The BMBC was part of radio network of the British Empire.

With the formation and the impact of BMBC, the KLARS and Penang Wireless

Station ceased their operations.

Following the fall of Singapore and the Japanese occupation in early December

1941, the BMBC ceased its operation, but it resumed after the return of the British Military Administration (BMA) command in Aug. 1945. While in Penang, after the return of BMA and later during the British Civilian Government, a handful of British colonial civil servants, few of them were telecom engineers together with other radio amateur enthusiasts decided to look into the defunct Penang Wireless Club which ceased its broadcast following the presence of BMBC.

Also with the ready availability of Second World War surplus of the communication facilities, that led a group of radio enthusiasts to meet at VS2DV’s house. The outcome of the Eye-ball QSO resulted in the formation of the Malayan Radio Transmitters Society in 1952 Veteran and established.

HAM OM 9M2FK (Eshee) ex-VS2 who was licensed in 1956 reminisced that MARTS in its early embryonic stage was dominated and controlled by European members. Among the notable veteran HAMS who joined the society during the colonial days were VS2DW now 9M2DW (Datuk Tan) and the late OMVS2AZ (Harbak Singh-9M2AZ). Datuk Tan (9M2DW), the Grand Old Man, now in his late eighties, is still enjoying his electronic hobby despite the advanced age and poor health. It was a rare sight to see Asian HAMS at the MARTS meetings during the colonial days. in spite of this, there was no colour bar practised by the “White Sahibs” of the MARTS. Such was the fraternity and the spirit that have been inherited till today by the HAMS. For the legacy of HAMS’s universal spirit and brotherhood transcends the tx)rder, race, colour and creed.

OM 9M2GJ (ex-VS2) Lockman Radin Salleh, was one of the first HAMS to have obtained the call-sign 9M2 in early 1959 said in those days Sungai Road in Singapore junkshops were regularly frequented by HAMS to salvage the components and parts for the transceiver. Often old wireless sets of the Second World War spoils were cannibalised.

Another ex-VS OM 9M2 EF (Serin Singh), who was licensed in 1953, said many of the HAMS operators possessed the 2nd WW military surplus rigs such as American made BC-60 (Helicrafter) and HRO receiver besides the British made Eddystones. The rigs were modified to suit for the amateur use. All worked well with suitable antennas.

Eshee said, many of the rigs were home brewed and salvaged from the second world war military surplus. In fact, the D.I.Y. was put in real total practice by the innovative and technical minded members.

In some cases, the hefty odd bits and kinks embedded in the soiled junkyards were sought and dug up by the amateurs in the early days solely for the interest of the Hobby OM 9M2FK (Eshee) fully endorsed 9M2BS’s statement that the actual birth place of the MARTS is in Penang. For this, Penang must be recognised and endorsed MARTS.

The chronology of Amateur Radio in Malaysia/Singapore as an scientific hobby.

1947: Selangor and Perak organised their respective radio amateur clubs. On the initiative of British planters of the British owned estates and the tin minesmanagers/mining engineers. The clubs served as a means of easy communication among ftiemselves. Both clubs and their activities were short-lived due the transfers and termination of work contracts.

1949: The Singapore Amateur Radio Transmitter Society was founded by British
civil servants (engineers/radio enthusiasts and business community. It followed the RSGB Module 1952: The Malayan Amateur Radio Transmitters Society (MARTS) was founded in the Straits Settlement of Penang headed by a handful of the British senior officials/business community and radio enthusiasts.

The MARTS was registered at the Post and Telecoms Department five years before the country became independent.

1957: The call-signs VS2 changed to 9M2 after the independent.

It was only after Merdeka in 1957, many Malaysians joined the society. The society launched with a humble beginning with less than ten members many went on silent key had now matured and increased its membership to more than 400 members including SWLs. However, the membership is still small over the spread of 45 years compared currently to the country with more than 20 millions population. As the country steps into the 21st century era, hopefully the MARTS with its future mission and vision will be able to progress positively in this shrinking wired global village in the interest of the hobby.

However, for this the task ahead is entrusted to all members besides the responsibility rests on our very shoulders.

For success or failure are with us. – By 9M2 JX (Jamal)

Credit to 9W2AA