Current Events 'Public Works Department' Established

In 1858 the Chief Engineer of the Straits Settlements was established. At that time Singapore was the main detention center for prisoners from the British colonies across the Far East. The British relied on soldiers to fill engineers’ and doctors’ position. A military team officer will be stationed to lead the public works in every area. Regarding that, Major McNair has come to Singapore to fill the post.


In 1867 the Straits Settlements became the 'Crown Colony' and simultaneously the position of the Singaporean PWD Authority was converted to the Jurisdictional Colonies of the Straits Settlements. However, the date cannot be stated as the beginning of PWD because basically the works are only concentrated in Singapore. Five years later in 1872, a new department named PWD Straits Settlements was established.


This is the starting point of JKR as an organization in Malaysia. Major J.F.A. McNair, who previously served as an Executive Engineer and Prisoner Superintendent as well as Colonies of the Straits Settlements in 1867 was the first person to lead the JKR organization in 1872 together with Captain Shatterthwaite as First Assistant Engineer at the State level of Penang.


The Department of Survey which was established in 1839 was unified with the Territory Engineer's office in 1871, under the unification policy initiated by Sir Harry Ord, where Major F.A. McNair has held the post. He reorganized the department in 1873 by assigning Captain W. Innes as the First Assistant Engineer and Surveyor in the State of Penang and another in Melaka.


In 1848 the Prisoner Superintendent’s post was placed under the Jurisdiction Engineer, while prisoners were employed for the construction of roads and buildings. This position is held by the Public Works Department until 1873 where the Prisons Department has its own authority.


Until 31st of December 1931 in Malaya there are two separate Public Works Departments. The Jurisdiction Engineer of the Straits Settlements are responsible for the Straits Settlements while the Public Works Director of the Federated Malay States is responsible for the Associated States and an Engineer are lent to carry out the duties of the Unfederated Malay States.

On 1st of January 1932 both departments were consolidated into Malaya Public Works Service with the names of 'Director of  Public Works of Straits Settlements' and 'Public Advisers of the Malay States' which based in Singapore.


On the same date, the hydraulic branch of the Associated States of the Public Works Department has been set up as a separate department called the Trench and Drainage Service headed by ' Trench and Drainage Director, Straits Settlements and Advisors for Trench and Drainage, Malay States'.



Summary of KPKR History

1872                           PWD Penang was formed and led by Major J.F.A McNair.

February 1948          The Public Works Department was reorganized after the Federation of Malaya was established.

April 1951                  Public Works Department was under Member Portfolio for Public Works and Housing.

August 1955             The Department is under the Ministry of Public Works.

1956                           Issued under Ministry of Public Works Postal and Telecommunications.

1963                           Issued under Ministry of Public Works Post, Energy and Telecom.

1976                           Ministry of Public Works and Public Utilities.

1983                           Being under Ministry of Public Works (up till now).



Complete List of PWD / KPKR Leaders

I.          The Colonial Engineers who have been in charge of the Public Works Department since the colony was taken over from the Indian Government are : 

(Negeri-Negeri Selat (SS)- Melaka, Pulau Pinang dan Singapura)


1.  Major J. F. A. McNair, R.A. (1867 to 1880)  (1881-1884 -acted by Mc Callum)

2.  Major Henry  Edward McCallum, R E., C.M.G.  1884-1897

3.  Colonel A. C. Alexander, R.E. (1897 to 1898)

4.  Colonel Alexander Murray, C.E., Mem. Inst. C.E. (1898 -1909)

5.  Mr.F. J. Pigott (1910 -  1921)

6.  J.H.W. Park, O.B.E (1921  - 1926)

7.  Harry Venus Towner (1927 – 1929) 



II.        The PWD of the Federated Malay States was established:

(Federated Malay States (FMS)- Pahang, Perak, Selangor dan Negeri Sembilan)


8.  Mr. F.St.G. Caufeild(1901-1907)

9.  Mr. Robert Ogilvie Newton Anderson, B.A., A.I.B (1907-1919)  ** *

10.  Mr. J. Trump (1914 -      ) * ATAU MR. W. EYRE-KENNY (1910-1923)*

11.  Mr. J. Strachan (1923 - 1924)   

12.  Mr. C.V.A. Espeut  (1925 - 1927)

13.  Leut-Colonel James Parry Swettenham  (1927-1931)  


Both SS and FMS departments are incorporated into one of the Malaya Public Works based in Singapore under the name of Director of Public Works, SS and Adviser on Public Works, Malay States.


14.  Mr. G. Sturrock (1931 -1935) 

15.  Major R.L. Nunn (1935-1940) 


Malayan Union


16.  Mr. W. Fairley  (1946 - 1948)


III.        Director of Public Works Department of Federation of Malaya:

(FEDERATION OF MALAYA consist of 11 states in Malaya (9 Malay States and 2 British settlements, Penang and Melaka).


17.  Mr. G. Edwards  (May 1948 - 1950)

18.  NANKIVELL Kenneth  (Ken Nankivell) B.Sc. D.I.C., A.M.I.C.E,  (1954-1957) 

19.  R.E. Pitt (1958-1959)

20.  S.E Jewkes, O.B.E., J.M.N., B. Sc. (Eng), (1955-1962)

21.  S.F. Owens (1962-1964)



IV.       After the Formation of Malaysia


22.  Tan Sri Ir. Haji Yusoff bin Haji Ibrahim (1/8/1964 – 21/7/1971)

23.  Ir. Thean Lip Thong (22/7/1971 – 14/4/1974)

24.  Tan Sri Dato' Ir. Mahfoz bin Khalid (17/4/1974 – 5/12/1977)

25.  Tan Sri Dato' Ir. Hj. Halaluddin bin Mohamed Ishak (6/12/1977-31/7/1981)

26.  Tan Sri Ir. Haji Mohd Yusoff bin Mohd Yunus (1/8/1981 – 27/10/1983)

27.  Dato' Ir. Ho Thian Hock (28/10/1983 – 9/12/1985)

28.  Tan Sri Dato' Ir. Talha bin Mohd Hashim (10/12/1985 – 9/9/1990)

29.  Tan Sri Dato' Ir. Wan Abd Rahman bin Haji Yaacob (10/9/1990 – 20/6/1996)

30.  Tan Sri Dato' Ir. Omar bin Ibrahim (21/6/1996 – 9/9/1999)

31.  Tan Sri Dato' Ir. Haji Zaini bin Omar (10/9/1999 – 1/6/2005)

32.  Dato' Sri Ir. Dr. Wahid bin Omar (7/6/2005 – 30/4/2007)

33.  Dato' Sri Ir. Dr. Judin bin Abdul Karim (1/5/2007 – 30/4/2011)

34.  Dato' Seri Ir. Hj. Mohd Noor bin Yaacob (1/5/2011-31/3/2014)

35.  Dato’ Ir. Annies Bin Md Ariff (31/3/2014- 30/4/2015)

36.  Datuk Ir. Adanan bin Mohamed Hussain (1/7/2015 – 8/6/2016)

37.  Dato' Sri Ir. Dr. Roslan bin Md Taha (24/8/ 2016 – Now)