The Order of Secret Monitor South East Asia - An Introduction
Origin of the Order
The first references to this Order are known to be of Dutch origin. The inhabitants of the northern part of Netherlands, Holland were mainly of Protestants in religious persuasion. In the sixteen century, Charles V and later Philip II, the Catholic kings of Spain who ruled over the Provinces made it their mission to defeat Protestantism. The harsh measures of suppression led to increasing grievances in the Netherlands and led to the war for independence.
Around 1875, Dr. Issachar Zacharie brought The Order to England when he returned from America after serving as Chiropodist-General with the United States Army during the Civil War. The English Grand Council of the Order was subsequently constituted on 17th June 1887 and Dr. Zacharie became the first Grand Supreme Ruler.
The Order flourished in United Kingdom and were brought to its dominions, during the reign of the British Empire. In United Kingdom, the full title of the Order is : “The Order of the Secret Monitor, or the Brotherhood of David and Jonathan, in the British isles and its Districts and conclaves Overseas”. It has its headquarters at Mark Masons’ Hall, 86, St. James’s Street, London, and the head of the Order is termed the “Grand Supreme Ruler”.
After more than thirteen decades of existence, the Mother Grand Conclave, or Primus Inter Pares, has preached the brotherhood of David and Jonathan around the globe and the Order exists in to South Africa, South America, the West Indies, The Bahamas, Canada, Gibraltar, Spain, France, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand.
Our South East Asia Beginnings
The Star of the East Conclave No. 3. was formed in Penang on 14 September 1887, and R. W. Bro. Felix Henri Gottlieb, the then District Grand Master of the District Grand Lodge of the Eastern Archipelago of the United Fraternity of Antient Free and Accepted Masons, was installed as the first Supreme Ruler.
The Order of Secret Monitor thus was already in South East Asia as early as the Grand Council of the Order was first constituted. In 1889, the first District Grand Supreme Ruler was Appointed in March with Right Worthy Brother Felix Gottlieb as Distract Grand Supreme Ruler for Eastern Archipelago. Adullam Conclave No. 17 was warranted in Singapore in March 1889. Unfortunately, Felix Gottlieb died on 13 November 1893 and Star of the East Conclave warrant was cancelled in 1910 followed soon after by Adullam Conclave.
The R. W. Bro Joseph William Yee Eu Connection
The Order of Secret Monitors laid dormant for 80 years in South East Asia until the 24th November 1989 R. W. Bro. Bro Joseph William Yee Eu, the then DGM of the District Grand Lodge of the Eastern Archipelago led a party of 17 brethren to Hong Kong to be inducted and admitted as members of the Hong Kong Conclave No. 136. South East Asia owed a debt of gratitude to Wy. Bro. William Sui-Long Wong, the Past Supreme Ruler and brethren of the Hong Kong Conclave No. 136 for its rebirth.
On 26th February 1991, the Eastern Archipelago Conclave (EAC) No. 359 was consecrated in Singapore by V. Wy. Bro. Peter Glynn Williams, Grand Recorder under the banner of the District Grand Conclave of Far East. Wy. Bro. William Siu-Long Wong was installed as the Founding Supreme Ruler and there were 18 founding members. This marked the revival of OSM in South East Asia.
Membership of EAC grew rapidly with many brethren from Malaysia and it was decided a Conclave in Kuala Lumpur should be formed. This was duly done with the consecration of Conclave Persaudaraan No. 470 at the Read Masonic Hall, 213 Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur on 25 October 2003 by Right Worthy Brother Michael William Guest, the then Deputy Grand Supreme Ruler with Worthy Brother Mah Kim as the Founding Supreme Ruler.
With the consecration of Joseph Eu Conclave No. 481 on 22 January 2004 also by Right Worthy Brother Michael William Guest, Conclaves in Singapore and Malaysia were constituted as District Grand Conclave of South East Asia with Right worthy Brother Vincent Tang Fook Lam as its District Grand Supreme Ruler.
The Order spread northwards to Ipoh with the consecration of Perak Conclave No, 507 on 22 January 2007. It then spread southwards to Malacca with the consecration of Johore Utara Conclave No. 596 on 5 October 2011. On the same day, Right Worthy Brother Mah Kim was installed the second District Grand Supreme Ruler. Right Worthy Brother Dr Khoo Boo Khean succeeded Mah Kim on 26 July 2014 due to the latter’s failing health. Under the dynamic and gregarious leadership of Right Worthy Brother Dr Khoo Boo Khean, the Order expanded rapidly from five to thirteen Conclaves by the end of 2015. These includes the three additional Conclaves warranted in Philippines under the auspices of the District of South East Asia.
Our Own Sovereignty on 11th February 2017
The phenomenal growth of the Order in South East Asia prompted suggestions that a Sovereign Grand Conclave should be set up in South East Asia to enhance growth and spread of its membership as well as fostering greater regional alliances. To that, R. Wy. Bro. Khoo Boo Khean while attending the Grand Conclave Convocation in London at the end of 2015 had discussions with the Grand Recorder and the Grand Supreme Ruler on the possibility of securing their support for the formation of a Sovereign Grand Conclave for SEA. The discussions were solemn, and the indication then given by Grand Conclave was “if it is your intention, we will support you”. And quite immediately the Grand Recorder called a special meeting with R. Wy. Bro. Khoo, setting out the due diligence that must be strictly followed and the suitable time frame for doing it properly.
After many months of preparation meetings for the Constitution of the Grand Conclave of South East Asia culminated in the inauguration of the Grand Conclave of the Order of Secret Monitor South East Asia on 11th February 2017 by the Grand Deputation from Mark Masons’ Hall, London led by the Grand Supreme Ruler, M. Wy. Bro Paul Raymond Clement.
On 12 February 2017, M. Wy Bro. Dr. Khoo Boo Khean constituted 2 Provinces, i.e. the Northern and the Central Provinces with R. Wy Bros. Dato’ Richard Ong Guan Seng and Francis Yeoh Song Min as their Provincial heads. The first Annual Convocation of the Grand Conclave was held on 25 March 2017 in Manila, Philippines when the Province of West Pacific was constituted with R. Wy. Bro. Amando L. Melo Jr. as the Provincial Grand Supreme Ruler.
The expansion continued and by end of 2017, the Grand Conclave of the Order of Secret Monitor South East Asia comprises 18 Conclaves with over 600 subscribing members.
Grand Conclave SEA Membership
The Order is non-denominational and open to every member of a Regular Craft Constitution who had been raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason. Craft masons meet in Lodges, but an assembly of Secret Monitors is held in a Conclave. The Presiding Officer has the title Worthy Supreme Ruler and is seated on the Throne of King David in the East.
He wears the jewel of the Order suspended from a yellow and violet collarette, and a sash of the same colours bearing his rank with the name and number of the Conclave beneath, all embroidered in Silver wire. Unique to the Order of the Secret Monitor are the four Visiting Deacons whose special duties distinguish this Order from any other in Freemasonry.
Reflecting the sacred nature of their caring role they are seated at the corners of what is designated the Holy Ground or Magen David in a Conclave. Magen David refers to the ‘Shield of David’ and the two interlaced triangles thereon.
Tenets and Principles
The Grand Principles upon which Freemasonry was founded are : Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
The principal of Brotherly Love epitomises the teachings of the Order of Secret Monitor, which is founded on the legend of the wonderful story told in the Book of Samuel of the enduring friendship between David and Jonathan. The unselfish devotion of these two friends is the basis of the Secret Monitor ritual and precepts. Friendship and kinship for one’s Brother is the paramount basis of our teachings…even as Brotherly Love is the first tenet of Craft Masonry.
The Order does not proclaim Brotherly love simply in the abstract, or as a desirable norm, for at every turn of life, at every crisis of fate a Secret Monitor may look, and will not look in vain, to the experienced among his Brethren who have pledged themselves to give him caution, to prompt him to good actions, to warn him from doubtful ones, to offer him skilful and effective advice, solace in time of sorrow, and to exercise watchful Brotherly care and concern over him and his family at all times.
With its new-found sovereignty, the Order of Secret Monitor South East Asia has risen another notch to be amongst its peers in India, Australia and New Zealand with regular diplomatic exchanges and camaraderie. Our circle of brotherhood and friendship has grown that much wider.
The rituals of this Order with their beautiful and inspiring precepts, take us back to the time when the Hebrews, wandering defenceless in the wilderness, forged one bond or another for mutual protection and support. Indeed, much of the ritual is based on the story of the enduring friendship that existed between David and Jonathan, a friendship that has become almost proverbial as the ideal to be aimed for.
Grand Supreme Ruler, M Wy Bro Dr Khoo Boo Khean
Provincial Grand Supreme Rulers (from l) R Wy Bro Francis Yeoh Song Min, R Wy Bro Amando L. Melo Jr, R Wy Bro Dato’ Richard Ong Guan Seng