The Surveyors were first recognized as a profession in 1885 with the setting up of the Survey Department. Prior to March 1961, there were two professional bodies representing surveyors, The Malayan Institution of Surveyors (the former R.I.C.S Federation of Malaya Branch) and the Institution of Land Surveyors. History for surveyors was made on the March 13, 1961, when these two bodies met at the Boardroom of the Royal Selangor Club resolved to form then The Institution of Surveyors (Federation of Malaya).
The meeting elected Mr. Khoo Soo Guan (President), Mr. W.G. Wicks (Vice-President), Mr. Yap Thean Ee (Hon. Secretary) and Mr. R.H Norris (Hon. Treasurer) as the first Committee. On 2nd December 1961 , the Inaugural General Meeting was held at the Shell Theatrette in Kuala Lumpur . 38 Fellows and members attended the meeting. The First Council Meeting of the Institution was held on 14 th December 1961 at the Conference Room, Survey Headquarters, Mountbatten Road . At the E.G.M held on 19 th June, 1966 , the name of the Institution was changed to the Institution of Surveyors, Malaysia.
The first issue of the ‘Surveyors Quarterly Gazette’ was dispatched to members on 23 rd January 1965 . It contained 18 pages and one article. In 1971, the name of the journal was changed to ‘The Surveyor’ and it was changed again to ‘The Malaysian Surveyor’ with the publication of the 1 st Quarter 1999. ISM held its very first professional examinations from 10 th December – 14 th December, 1974 . An important milestone was reached on 19 th June 1976 when Y.B. Dato’ Asri Hj. Muda, the Minister of Lands and Mines laid the Foundation Stone of the ISM Building at a ceremony witnessed by many senior members of the Institution. On 22 nd March 1977, the building was completed and was officially handed over.
His Royal Highness the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah Alhaj Ibni Almarhum Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Alhaj conferred the royal status to the then Institution of Surveyors, Malaysia (ISM) on 28 March 2011. This royal conferment is the first ever bestowed to any professional body or NGO in Malaysia. Subsequently, the former name, The Institution of Surveyors of Surveyors, Malaysia was changed to Royal Institution of Surveyors Malaysia (RISM). RISM is further elevated and needless to say proud to have His Royal Highness the Sultan of Selangor as its royal patron.
The Institution comprises four distinct but closely related Divisions i.e. Geomatics and Land Surveying Division, Quantity Surveying Division, Property Surveying Division and Building Surveying Division. The Divisional Chairs are members of the General Council which is the governing body of the Institution.
The affairs of the Institution are managed by the General Council whose members are elected annually. This General Council, which is presided over by a President, directs and manages the affairs of the Institution. Briefly, the work of the Council falls into two main categories, those matters of national and public interest with which surveyors are specially qualified and those matters connected with the internal organisation of the Institution affecting the membership.
The Constitution has provisions for the election of Members, transfers to the class of Fellow and for the enrolment of Students and Probationers. It also provides for the conduct of professional examinations by the Institution and for the setting up of Branches in the various States of Malaysia. At present, the Institution has five branches namely, the Sarawak Branch, Sabah Branch, Johor Branch, Northern Branch and East Coast Branch including a chapter which is the UK Chapter.