Peace Corps Malaysia

History of Peace Corps in Malaysia

It happened very quickly. In an impromptu speech at 2 am at the University of Michigan, just a few weeks before the 1960 elections, then presidential candidate John F. Kennedy asked students if they would be willing to serve as volunteers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The enthusiastic response to the speech and the thousands who wrote letters to volunteer prompted President Kennedy to establish the Peace Corps. Within weeks, Sargent Shriver had Peace Corps organization was up and running. In his international travels to gauge interest in the Peace Corps, Shriver discovered that the leaders of most developing countries, including Tengku Abdul Rahman, Prime Minister of Malaya, welcomed the idea of Peace Corps Volunteers working in their countries. Formal agreements were soon signed for Peace Corp programs in Malaya, Sabah, and Sarawak. Norman Parmer, the first Peace Corps Representative in KL, recalls setting up the Peace Corps in Malaya. The first batch of PCVs to Malaysia (then Malaya) began training at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb and arrived in Kuala Lumpur in January 1962. A few months later, the first training program of Peace Corps Volunteers for North Borneo and Sarawak (then still British colonies) began in Hawaii. Over the next 23 years, more than 3,300 Peace Corps Volunteers served in Malaysia. 

The authoritative the history of the Peace Corps in Malaysia is: The United States Peace Corps in Malaysia, 1962-1983  A history, researched, written and edited by Michael J. Quaid. 52pp. (Kuala Lumpur: Art Printing Works Sdn. Bhd. 1983). This report includes a list of Peace Corps Malaysia Staff, 1961-83