St. John's Institution

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St. John's Institution
St. John's Institution Seal.png
Jalan Bukit Nanas


TypeAll-boys primary and secondary school
MottoLatin: Fide et labore
(Faith and Labour)
Religious affiliation(s)Christian
DenominationRoman Catholic Church
Established18 January 1904 (1904-01-18)[citation needed]
PrincipalManmohan Singh Kartar Singh
GradesStandard 1–6
Forms 1–6
GenderMale[citation needed]
Co-educational (Form 6)
Campus typeUrban
Color(s)Gold and green
Feeder schoolsSK St. John 1, Kuala Lumpur
SK St. John 2, Kuala Lumpur
Alumni PresidentMohd Isham Ishak

St. John's Institution (Malay: formerly known as SMK St. John; abbreviated SJI[1]) is a public all-boys school (sixth form is co-ed) and is one of the oldest schools in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The school is widely known by its initials SJI and the students of St John's Institution bear the name Johannians.

The school is named after Jean-Baptiste de la Salle, the founder of the De La Salle Christian Brothers Order and also known as the Patron Saint of Teachers.

SJI consists of a primary school and a secondary school. The primary and secondary schools initially were fee paying missionary schools. They functioned together until the increase in enrolment of pupils led to a separation of the primary school in 1960. The primary schools are formally known in Malay today as Sekolah Kebangsaan St. John (1) and Sekolah Kebangsaan St. John (2) while the secondary school was called Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan St. John, but it was announced in April 2016 that the name would be reverted to St John's Institution, a decision widely applauded by alumni and backed by another Johannian Sultan Nazrin Shah of Perak.[2][3]

SJI is among the first 30 schools selected into the Cluster School scheme when it was first introduced in 2007 by the Ministry of Education, Malaysia.[4]

The La Sallian Brothers and the Board of Governors still hold much autonomy over management of the secondary school compared to the Malaysian Ministry of Education. This has allowed the secondary school to maintain a certain amount of prestige. Though the school land is owned by the Roman Catholic Church (including St. John's Cathedral, Kuala Lumpur which is next to the school), much of the school funding is received from the Government of Malaysia.

Site and architecture[edit]

The main school building is located in Jalan Bukit Nanas, in the city centre of Kuala Lumpur, next to the Bukit Nanas forest reserve, giving it a lush surrounding. St. John's Primary Schools are located across the road from the main school building while the Convent Bukit Nanas, an Infant Jesus Sisters' school for the girls, the AIA building and the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur are located further down the road. The Fatima Kindergarten (housed in what is Kuala Lumpur's oldest catholic church and now converted into a community service centre) and the Roman Catholic St John's Cathedral are located on the road leading up to SJI.

The school is famous for its imposing red and white-brick main building with Grecian-Spanish influences. It was gazetted as a National Heritage site by the Government of Malaysia on 21 May 2010.[5]


The school has traditionally been headed by the Brothers of the La Sallian order, with a Brother Director (like a headmaster) and a Brother Supervisor (like a deputy headmaster). In recent years, the Brother Supervisor was replaced with three assistant principals, who are not in the La Sallian order.

Former Brother Directors are:

Name of Director Took Office Left Office Comments
Bro. Julian Francis 1904
Bro. James Gilbert 1904 1910 Saw the construction of the Main Block
Bro. Adrian Edmund 1911 1913
Bro. Marcian Cullen 1914 1915
Bro. Claude Marie Guibert 1916 1921 Introduced Sports Day
Bro. Barnitus Kennedy 1922 1923
Bro. Stephen Edward Buckley 1923 1924 Built the existing Brothers' Quarters
Bro. Defendant Louis 1925 1930 Installed the statue of Jean Baptist de La Salle
Bro. Cornelius Nulty 1930 1946 Longest serving Brother Director
Bro. Amor Matthias 1946 1948
Bro. Dositheus Joseph Brophy 1948 1954
Bro. Tiberius Lawrence Spitzig 1955 1961 Bro. Lawrence wrote SJI's famous School Rally and introduced many improvement projects to the school during his two terms
Bro. Celestine Jennings 1958 Bro. Celestine was appointed Director when Bro. Lawrence Spitzig went on leave to Canada
Bro. Ignatius Barry 1962 Deteriorating health forced him to return to Ireland in September that year
Bro. Joseph McNally 1963 1967 Bro. Joseph, an accomplished artiste and sculptor, designed the present school badge and introduced many beautiful sculptures and murals to the school. He painted the school's exterior white and some of his works are still standing today. He went on to establish the LASALLE College of the Arts in Singapore in 1984
Bro. Basilian Wong 1967 1968 Cleared the immense debt incurred by the development committee under Bro. Joseph McNally
Bro. Joseph Yeoh 1969 1978 Former student of St. John's. First Malaysian to lead the school. Bro. Joseph Yeoh repainted the school to its current color scheme
Bro. Tiberius Lawrence Spitzig 1979 1983 Bro. Lawrence wrote SJI's famous School Rally and introduced many improvement projects to the school during his two terms
Bro. Cassian Pappu 1983 1988 Served in La Salle Klang before taking up Brother Director's role in St. John's.
Bro. Michael Wong 1989 2002 The last Brother Director of St. John

The headship of the school passed to the laity in 2002 when Peter Yii Sing Chiu became the first non-brother and non-Catholic to head the school.

Former principals include:

Name of Principal Took Office Left Office Comments
Peter Yii Sing Chiu 2002 2009
Leong Kum Loy 2010 2010
Lim Hean Hwa 2010 2014 Second Johannian to lead St. John's after his own principal, Rev. Bro. Joseph Yeoh. He was a student from 1961 - 1973
Dr. M. Puvanendran 2014 2016
Manmohan Singh Kartar Singh 2016

Brothers who have served as headmasters of the primary school when it was split from the secondary school include Brother Patrick Arokiasamy, Brother Alban Tang and Brother Matthew Liew.


St John's Institution


  • At the request of the Education Department and the then Bishop of Malacca, Mgr. Fee, the La Sallian Brothers opened a school in Kuala Lumpur. According to records, it started with an initial enrolment of 18 boys.
  • Three days before classes were to commence on 18 January, three Brothers arrived to take charge of the school – Brother Julian Francis from Hong Kong, Brother Andrew Corsini from Burma and Brother Cyril Alexander from Penang.
  • The school building was a two-storey wooden structure, 80 feet long and 20 feet wide, with a brick pillar and a verandah facing the north.
  • Later in the year, Brother James Gilbert arrived from Singapore to take the place of Brother Julian Francis as Brother Director of SJI.


  • On 2 January, a Standard 7 was set up and entrusted to Brother Cyril Alexander.
  • With this new set-up, expansion was needed. So Father Renard lent to the school the house of the Chinese Catechist which was capable of holding one class and also an attap shed near the site.


  • In June 1906, Brother Imier of Jesus, Provincial Visitor of the United States paid a visit to SJI. He later became Superior General in 1913.
  • More classes were opened and accommodated on temporary structures.
  • Finally the government provided a piece of land given to the mission for religious and educational purposes.
  • On 3 November, the foundation stone for the new building was laid by Sir Henry Conway Belfield, Resident Councilor for Selangor.


  • At the end of the year, the new building was advanced enough to be used for the Cambridge Examination for all the candidates of Kuala Lumpur.


  • On 10 August, the new building was declared open by the High Commissioner and Governor, Sir John Anderson.


  • The Brothers' Building was enlarged by the addition of two new wings which were to house the chapel and offices and the Juniorate and Novitiate.
  • Brother Marcian Cullen was appointed Director of the newly formed Juniorate.


  • Brother Stephen Edward Buckley demolished the Brothers' Building and replaced it with the present one, to which additions were made later.


  • Brother Louis installed a statue of Jean Baptist De La Salle on the front facade of the Main Block.


  • Brother Cornelius Nulty served as Brother Director from 1930 to 1946 and under his energetic management, many projects were brought to a successful conclusion.
  • Brother Cornelius enlarged the playground, a project that was started by Brother Louis. He then turned his attention to the building of the hall which was finally completed in 1936 with the provision for two more storeys in the future.
  • Brother Cornelius next built a new wing on the east side of the Brothers' Building, which became the Boarding Department (later De La Salle Institute, now St. John's International School)


  • During World War II, SJI was closed but crowds of refugees flocked to Brother Cornelius for help and stayed in the school for security. When the war ended and peace returned, these refugees organised a scholarship fund to express gratitude to Brother Cornelius and to perpetuate his memory.


  • Brother D. Joseph Brophy established La Salle Sentul, La Salle Brickfields, La Salle Peel Road and La Salle Klang, which were intended as feeder schools for St John's.
  • In SJI, he renovated the school hall as well as built a new cafeteria, space staff room and offices. A modern library was furnished and equipped and an extensive P.A. system was installed.


  • On 15 April, the first issue of the Term Review was on sale. The Term Review was the predecessor to the current Editorial Board of The Garudamas, the school magazine.


  • In the Golden Jubilee year, Brother D. Joseph achieved his final objective – the completion of the field extension.


  • Brother Tiberius Lawrence Spitzig starts his first term as Brother Director of SJI.
  • The Dramatic Society staged its second play, 'Twelfth Night', and the newly formed school orchestra made its first public appearance at the play's public performance in the hall. Brother Celestine (later, Brother Director) was responsible for the success of the play.


  • Brother Lawrence renovated the school and added 14 classrooms at a cost of M$90,000


  • General Sir Francis Festing, Commander-in-Chief of the Far East visited SJI.


  • In accordance with a new government directive, a Board of Governors for the school was set up and the first meeting was held on 24 September. In the primary section, the Board of Managers held its first meeting on 13 March.


  • His Excellency Mgr John Gordon, Chargé d'Affaires of the Apostolic Delegation of Thailand and Malaya visited SJI on 27 January.
  • Construction of the St John's Primary School began on the site of the Old Boys' Club. The building could accommodate 24 classes and would cost M$220,000


  • On 16 September, St John's Primary School was officially opened by Brother Fintan Blake.
  • The new chapel on the middle floor of SJI was officially opened and used on 19 October.


  • The present school badge (designed by Brother Joseph McNally) was used, replacing the old badge by Brother Cornelius Nulty.


  • The Form 5 Block (or Arts Block) was officiated by the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Mgr. Dominic Vendargon on 22 August.


  • The primary school hall, Dewan Tun Dr. Ismail was completed. A special ceremony was held to commemorate and dedicate the new hall on 15 February.


  • Brother Joseph Yeoh, a former Johannian returned to become the Brother Director. He was the first Malaysian to head the school. It was during his leadership that SJI achieved its glory years in academics and sports excellence.


  • The Main Block was given its current red and white colour scheme. The school was previously painted completely white in the 1960s.


  • Awards Day was introduced by Brother Joseph Yeoh to appreciate the service and achievements made by the students of SJI.


  • Brother Lawrence Spitzig returned as director of the school and presided over the school's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Bro. Lawrence re-introduced the annual English and Bahasa Malaysia public speaking competition to the school. Public speaking became part of the English and Bahasa Malaysia curriculum and was compulsory for all students, resulting in SJI having many enabled and proficient public speakers amongst the students.


  • To kick off the 80th Anniversary of the founding of the school, Carnival Day and several projects were introduced to raise funds for the construction of a four-storey building adjacent to the science block to accommodate the lower and upper sixth form classes. This is the beginning of a series of fund raising projects initiated to upgrade the school and its facilities. Over the years, St John's has been blessed with generous contributions from its generations of former students and benefactors.


  • The new Form 6 Block was built and named Bangunan Tan Sri Dominic Vendargon.


  • The sports complex comprising a badminton hall, three squash courts, and concourse was officiated by Brother David Liao on 18 January.


  • Brother Michael Wong, the last Brother Director of SJI retired, marking the end of the Brothers' directorship in SJI for 98 years.
  • Mr. Peter Yii Sing Chiu, the first lay principal was appointed to head SJI.


  • St. John's receives its second lay principal, Mr. Leong Kum Loy.


  • St. John's is gazetted as a Heritage Site by the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage, Malaysia.
  • St. John's receives its third lay principal, Mr. Lim Hean Hwa. He is a former student of St. John's under Brother Joseph Yeoh in the 1970s.


  • The restored tower clock on the Main Block, dedicated to the late Brother Lawrence Spitzig, was unveiled and officiated by former principal, Mr. Leong Kum Loy, in conjunction of St. John's 107th Birthday on 18 January. The project was an initiative by Megat Mizan Nicholas Denney, Chairman of the Board of Governors of St. John's.[6][7]


  • St. John's receives its first non-Christian lay principal, Dr. M. Puvanendran. He was a Senior Assistant from 2005 - 2010.


  • St. John’s Institution, one of the oldest secondary schools in Kuala Lumpur, has regained its right to be known by its old name and no longer as Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan St John.[8]

The La Sallian heritage[edit]

As St John's was founded by the La Sallian Brothers, it is related to many other La Sallian schools located all over Malaysia and around the world. These schools call each other brother schools and the La Sallian Heritage which binds them together.

St. John's Alumni Association (SJAA)[edit]

The St. John’s Alumni Association Kuala Lumpur (1988) or SJAA was registered as an official body with the Registrar of Society Malaysia on 7th August 1989. SJAA was formed as a continuation of the previous St. John's Old Boys Association (SJOBA) and Old Johannians Association (OJA) to foster a feeling of brotherhood, mutual goodwill, understanding among the alumni of St. John’s Institution Kuala Lumpur and other La Sallian Associations. The Alumni conducts its core activities and programs to promote social, cultural, education and sports activities for its members and the greater good of all Johannians.

Office of the SJAA consists of 14 Elected Members through its Annual General Meeting on a two-year term. Together with the other stakeholders of St. John’s Institution Kuala Lumpur, members of the Main Committee sits on a monthly basis to oversee the running of the association, programs as well as matters relating to the well-being of the school and the Alumni members.

Uniformed bodies[edit]

Some of the school uniformed bodies are the St John's Cadet Corps (Pasukan Kadet Bersatu Malaysia), St John's Naval Cadet Band, St. John's Drama Team, St John Ambulance, Eagle Scout Group, Red Crescent Society, Police Cadets, and Kadet Remaja Sekolah. Martial arts are also included in this category. They are the Taekwondo Club, Karate club, Fencing Club, Silat Gayung Club & Kendo Club.

8th Bukit Bintang KL Eagle Scout Group[edit]

The 8th Bukit Bintang KL Eagle Scout Group was established in 1963.

St John Ambulance of Malaysia (KL SJI A/C Div.)[edit]

KL SJI A/C is a division under the St John Ambulance of Malaysia, part of an international voluntary service organisation dedicated to training and providing first aid skills. The division has had numerous achievements in competitions at the state and national levels, and continues to be a major contributor in voluntary first aid service around the capital.

St John's Institution Cadet Corps[edit]

The St John's Institution Cadet Corps was established in 1915, one of the oldest cadet corps in Malaya. It is the oldest cadet corps in this school formed by Lt. Eric Chart. It was under the command of the British Military Somerset Light Infantry during the colonial days.

St John's Institution Naval Cadet Band[edit]

The St John's Institution Cadet Band was formed in 1916. The Cadet Band is also one of the few bands in Malaysia which include bagpipes in its ensemble.

In 2005 the St John's Institution Cadet Band Alumni was registered as an alumni body representing ex-band members. Today the members continues their passion through the formation of the Alumni Band, mainly Pipe and Drums, performing at private functions. In history, the band won their first title as 1st place in the "KL State Marching Band Competition 2009". In that year also, they were adopted by The Royal Navy Of Malaysia .

St. John's Institution Drama Team[edit]

The St John's Institution Drama Team or SJIDT was established in 2005. A revival of the original St. John's Institution Dramatic Society, which was discontinued in 1997 after a lack of productions. Currently under the purview of the Literature, Debate and Drama Club (LIDDRA), the drama team participates in various acting competitions both national and international. Former members continue to contribute to performing arts in Malaysia.


St. John's also has sports clubs that are open to students namely rugby, archery, football, hockey, badminton, basketball, sepak takraw, gymnastics, fencing etc.

St. John's has 5 sports houses namely the

Blue House (Claude) - Fleur de Lis

Red House (Cornelius) - Crown

Green House (D'Joseph)- Star

Brown House (Gilbert) - Bee

Yellow House (Stephen) - Shamrock.

Notable Johannians[edit]

See also[edit]


  • The school history is obtained from the Golden Jubilee school magazine (1954), Diamond Jubilee Souvenir book (1964), 75th Anniversary Commemorative book (1979) and 100 Years Centenary coffee table book (2004).


  1. ^ "SMK St. John Gets National Heritage Status". The Star. 22 June 2010. Retrieved 30 December 2010.
  2. ^ "SMK St. John to be known again as St. John's Institution, Sultan Nazrin announces". Malay Mail. 23 April 2016.
  3. ^ Siti Nursuraya Ali (23 April 2016). "St John's Institution to get its name back: Sultan Nazrin". New Straits Times.
  4. ^ Azhad Nilam (8 June 2008). "Sekolah Kluster 2007". ePutra. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  5. ^ "SMK St John's is National Heritage site". New Straits Times (Malaysia). Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 21 May 2010. Retrieved 28 January 2011.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Naveen Mathew Menon (26 January 2011). "St John's Institution unveils new clock". New Straits Times. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Archived from the original on 27 January 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
  7. ^ Rayan Ka Goling (18 January 2011). "'Old' clock ticks again at St John's". The Malay Mail. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Archived from the original on 30 September 2011. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  8. ^ Free Malaysia Today (2016)

External links[edit]