In 1959, a small group of professionals involved in company secretaryship arrived at a consensus to form an association named the Malaysian Association of Chartered Institute of Secretaries (MACIS) as a body to be affiliated to the Chartered Institute of Secretaries, United Kingdom. The impetus for this move was to ensure greater awareness of the pivotal role professionals involved in company secretaryship could play in the corporate development of the nation and to assist students preparing to become company secretaries.
Of this pioneer group of visionaries, many were expatriate officers serving in various organisations representing both the private and public sectors. Mainly drawn from Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, then as now the commercial heart of Malaysia, they were graduates from institutions in United Kingdom or Australia.
E S Thomas and J G Menzies, both Australians, and Lee Hee Seng, a Singaporean, were among those expatriate officers who were instrumental in charting and laying the foundations for the subsequent growth and development of the Association. They were all members of the then Chartered Institute of Secretaries, UK and now known as the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA).
To quote Mr Lee Hee Seng for a flavour of those pioneering times : "When I discovered that there was no equivalent Association of the Institute in Malaysia, I contacted the Institute in London and was provided with a list of chartered secretaries in Malaysia. I was urged by London to form an Association for Chartered Secretaries and also for those aspiring to be chartered secretaries in Malaysia. Together with E S Thomas, J G Menzies, D Teale and a number of Malaysian chartered secretaries including K M Hew and K T San, we formed and launched the Malaysian Association of the Chartered Institute of Secretaries in 1960. Two of its primary aims at that point in time were to establish a better dialogue and network among chartered secretaries and to provide assistance to students in this field.
When we first launched the Association, there were no more than 20 members and much less than 100 students in Malaysia. Despite its size, it was an active organisation. Seminars and talks were organised from time to time and meetings among the chartered secretaries were held regularly. We saw active participation from members in Kuala Lumpur. Our members even contributed to a scholarship fund to meet the cost of correspondence courses for deserving students preparing for the Institute's examinations. A close knit fraternity, we held annual dinner at which a Cabinet Minister or a top civil servant would grace the occasion as guest of honour."
On 15 July 1960, the Association with an initial membership that numbered in the twenties gained official recognition by being accepted as a registered body, under the Societies Ordinance, 1949. Subsequently E S Thomas was elected the first chairman of the Association. While serving as chairman in 1961, his civil service career saw him hold the esteemed post of Comptroller of Inland Revenue, Federation of Malaya. The Association in its formative years benefited immensely from his wide exposure and strong linkages to the government and administrative circles of the day, a tradition that MAICSA maintains to this day.
Lee Hee Seng took over the chairmanship from E S Thomas in 1962 and served his term of two years, painstakingly building upon the work of his predecessor. Prior to his move to Kuala Lumpur and his involvement in the Association, Lee was actively involved in the administration and activities of the Singapore Association of the Chartered Institute of Secretaries. The continuity and vision so vital to fledgling associations were well served by these pioneers.
In 1964, J G Menzies took over the leadership to become the third chairman of the Association. Menzies brought to the Association a wealth of invaluable financial experience accumulated in the course of a career in finance that spanned both Australia and Malaysia. With his appointment as Deputy Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia in 1962, he enjoyed the distinction of holding one of the most senior financial positions in the country.
When Menzies completed his term of office in 1965, Lee Hee Seng was again elected the Association’s chairman for the second time to steer MAICSA's quest for due recognition.
The following year saw a historic watershed in the affairs of the Association. Tan Sri Dato’ Azman Hashim was elected Chairman and become the first Malaysian to head the Association. As an infant organisation, the Association could not afford to have its own premises and had to operate from the offices of its elected officials. Fortunately, they were sufficiently imbued with the spirit of maintaining substance over cycle, and meetings of the Management Committee of the Association were often held at the premises of Azman, Wong, Salleh & Co. in the offices of Tan Sri Dato’ Azman Hashim who was then a partner of the firm.
In 1969, Abas Mohamad who was with Abas & Co. Chartered Accountants took over the chairmanship for a one-year term. He relinquished the leadership of the Association on moving his accountancy practice to Johor Bahru in January 1970. Tan Sri Dato’ Azman Hashim assumed the position of Chairman again and held this position for four continuous years from 1970 to 1973. He served the Association with distinction, paving the way for greater recognition of the ICSA qualification within the ranks of both the government and private sector.