The idea to introduce co-operatives in Malaysia (then, Malaya) was initiated by Sir Arthur Young (British Secretary of the Straits Settlements) in 1907 as a result of his observations on the success of the co-operative movement in Cyprus. Initially, the response of the local community towards the co-operative movement was less than favourable as it was believed that it contained elements that were considered suspicious.

Subsequently, Sir Alexander Cavendish, State of Kedah’s Assistant British Advisor at the time, proposed to Sir George Maxwell, the British Advisor in State of Kedah, that a government officer be sent to Burma to study the success of the Raiffeisen Co-operative concept. From 14 April until 23 June 1921, Sir Alexander Cavendish himself was dispatched to Burma to study and make recommendations on the appropriate methods to introduce the co-operative in Malaysia.

Upon his return from Burma, a report was tabled before the Federal Council on 12 December 1921 for the purpose of debate. On 28 June 1922, the first co-operative law called the Co-operative Societies Enactment was passed by the Federated Malay States Council. This law was gazetted by the Bristish Government on 15 July 1922.

Following the gazette, the Postal and Telecommunications Co-operative Thrift and Loan Society Limited Company was registered on 21 July 1922 and became the first co-operative society to be registered in the country. The company remains active to this day.


 In 1966, the First Cooperative Congress was held with the goal to establish a national cooperative union. The aim was to unite all the cooperatives in Malaysia under one federation for cooperatives. On 12 May 1971, Angkatan Kerjasama Kebangsaan Malaysia Berhad (ANGKASA) was officially registered as the national union as a result from the Second Cooperative Congress. With the inception of ANGKASA as a union of co-operative herald the beginning of a journey of a united and formidable co-operative movement in Malaysia. Since its establishment, ANGKASA has played the role as the apex of cooperatives for the Malaysian cooperative movement. With the approval of the new Cooperative Act in 1993, ANGKASA was formally recognized by the government of Malaysia to represent the co-operative movement nationally and internationally.