Bukit Bintang Girls' School


Bukit Bintang Girls' School (BBGS) opened in 1893 with Miss Betty Langlands teaching girls to read in Brickfields
Brickfields is a small to medium-sized town and residential neighbourhood located just outside central Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is known as Kuala Lumpur's Little India due to the high percentage of Indian residents and businesses.- History :In 1881, a flood swept through Kuala Lumpur following...

, Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is the capital and the second largest city in Malaysia by population. The city proper, making up an area of , has a population of 1.4 million as of 2010. Greater Kuala Lumpur, also known as the Klang Valley, is an urban agglomeration of 7.2 million...

, Malaysia. Formerly known as The Chinese Girls' School, BBGS gained its name after moving to its premises on Bukit Bintang Road in 1930. BBGS was the oldest school in Kuala Lumpur, surpassing Victoria Institution
Victoria Institution
Victoria Institution is a premier secondary school for boys and one of the oldest schools in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The school is widely known as V.I. and a student of Victoria Institution bears the name Victorian....

, Methodist Girls' School Kuala Lumpur (1896), Methodist Boys' School Kuala Lumpur (1897), Convent Bukit Nanas(1899), St. John's Institution, Kuala Lumpur
St. John's Institution, Kuala Lumpur
St. John's Institution is a secondary school for boys and one of the oldest schools in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia...

 (1904), St Mary's (1912) as well as Maxwell School
Maxwell School
For Maxwell School as a graduate school of Syracuse University see Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.Maxwell School is a semi-control for boys and the oldest school in the north of Kuala Lumpur as well as one of the oldest in Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia...


The school adopted the motto Nisi Dominus Frustra, which is Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 for "Without God, All is in vain". Its students are widely known as BBGSians.

In 2000, the school changed its name to S.M.K Seri Bintang Utara (SBU). It was moved to a new location at Taman Shamelin Perkasa, Cheras and was established as one of the first Smart Schools in Malaysia. The BBGS landmark on Bukit Bintang Road was demolished to make way for Pavilion KL, a commercial site in Kuala Lumpur..

Although no longer in existence, friends and even rivals acknowledge BBGS as the very first all-girls' school to be established in the nation's capital.

School badge

The story of the school badge goes back to the years before 1950. A badge design competition was held and the one that is worn today was chosen. According to Miss Ma Tak Yan, a former student, teacher and the first headmistress of BBGS Primary 2, the school crest was designed by a BBGSian, Wong Chi Yin.

The two hills with the star overhead are a constant reminder to us that we must climb the bukit (hill) to reach the bintang (star).

School motto

In 1947, Miss Glasgow (the headmistress) and Miss Cooke (a teacher) felt that the school should have a motto.

They devised the motto, Nisi Dominus Frustra, a reduced version of Psalm 127:1 in Latin: Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum in vanum laboraverunt qui aedificant eam nisi Dominus custodierit civitatem frustra vigilavit qui custodit. In English: Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. Unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that keepeth it.

The motto is also that of the city of Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

School song

The school song is adapted from a hymn (Presbyterian Hymnal) entitled Land of Our Birth after the Second World War. In 1989, Miss Yeo Kim Eng, a former student and teacher of Bukit Bintang Girl School, translated the lyrics into Bahasa Malaysia.


*Shirtliff (red)
*Green (green)
*Maclay (blue)
*Prouse (purple)
*Cooke (yellow)


The following is extracted from articles used for the "Timeless Traditions" exhibition which took place on 4 August 2009 at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur. It showcased the pioneers of BBGS as well as school activities through the decades.

This exhibition has been researched, written and sponsored by Joanna Yeoh and photos have been re-produced with permission from Miss YL Moey. Please obtain written copyright permission from the author (joannayeoh@gmail.com) before reproducing any information and images for print or digital use. Thank you.'
Betty Langlands, 1893 – 1895

The British Empire was at its height of glory when Miss Betty Langlands left England for Malaya, an equatorial colonial outpost. In 1893, this missionary gathered a few women in Brickfields and taught them to read. This was the first girls’ school in Selangor.
Bessie Maclay, 1895 – 1914

Maclay, a nurse, arrived from China in 1895 to take over the reins of the school, then known as the Chinese Girls’ School. The school grew under her care, even while it was physically moved to Petaling Hill and Davidson Road.

Babies were left on her doorstep. She raised five of these children.

In 1914, she went on leave via USA on board the Lusitania. The First World War broke out and the ship was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland and she was drowned. Maclay House was named in her honour.

Miss Shirtliff

Shirtliff arrived from New Zealand in 1898 and came to Kuala Lumpur in the early 1900s. Shirtliff House was named in her honour.

Ruth Lewis (left) and Miss Molly Ham (right), 1914–1918

From 1914–1918, during the First World War, the school continued under the joint leadership of Miss Ruth Lewis and Miss Molly Ham. Miss Lewis also came from New Zealand. She later married and became Mrs Robert Austin.
Miss Ham left Malaya after the war and went to live in Cheddar, England.
W.H. Green, 1918 – 1919

Mrs Green, the sister of Miss Shirtliff, took over the reins of the school for a year. Green House was named after her.
A. Luke, 1919–1925

A Luke arrived in 1919, and led the school until 1925. She married and became Mrs. Bennett, and went on to reside in Brisbane, Australia.
Miss O’ Connor, circa 1922

When A. Luke went on leave, O’ Connor who later became Mrs G. Gough, was given the headship in 1922. She was the first graduate teacher of the school.
Eva Prouse, 1925 – 1941

Eva Prouse arrived from Rockhampton, Queensland in April 1925. During her tenure as Headmistress, the school presented students for the Cambridge School Certificate Examination for the first time in 1928.

When the Second World War broke out, Miss Prouse was interned in Palembang, Sumatra. On 8 February 1945, just six months before the Japanese surrender, Miss Prouse died from malaria. Prouse House carried her name and Prouse Wing was built with the savings she left the school.
Mary Glasgow, 1946 – 1957

In 1930, Mary Glasgow arrived to serve with Prouse as the school moved to Bukit Bintang Road. Together, they worked tirelessly to improve the school until the Second World War. Serving until the last possible moment, Glasgow and Prouse were both captured and interned in Sumatra.

Glasgow survived the internment and returned to head BBGS in August 1946. Before the war, many parents preferred to keep their daughters at home so the numbers were small. However following the war, there was tremendous pressure to get girls admitted to the school. The buildings could not rise fast enough to meet soaring enrolment.

In recognition of her contribution to education in Malaya, Miss Glasgow was awarded the MBE (Master of the Order of the British Empire) in 1955. In 1960, she retired from teaching after 30 years and returned home to Ireland.

Miss Elena Cooke, 1958 – 1977

Miss Elena Cooke had was a student, teacher, headmistress and chairman of the Board of Governors of Bukit Bintang Girls’ School (BBGS). Her student days began in 1928 and she started her teaching career in 1945, having earned a degree from Queen’s University in Belfast.

Se led the school from 1958–1977.

She was awarded a KMN in 1977 for her excellent service and dedication to the field of education in Malaysia.

The Elena M Cooke Education Fund was launched on 4 August 2009 by the BBGS Alumni in honour of her.

Miss Yeap Gaik Khoon, 1980 – 1993

Miss Yeap came to BBGS from another well-known missionary school – Methodist Girls’ School Taiping. She is a graduate of the University of Malaya (Singapore) and University of Southampton (United Kingdom). When Miss Yeap took over the reins of BBGS, she faced the formidable task of maintaining the high standards of BBGS while carrying on the school traditions.

Miss Yeap retired as Principal of BBGS in 1993, and went on to become Principal of Fairview International School. Today, she is retired from active teaching and resides in Kuala Lumpur.

The Headmistresses of BBGS

Secondary School
  • 1893–1895 Miss Betty Langlands (Mrs.J.W.Moore)
  • 1895,1906–1914, Miss Bessie Maclay
  • 1914–1918 Miss Ruth Lewis (Mrs.Robert Austin)
  • 1914–1918 Mss Molly Ham
  • 1918–1919 Mrs. WH Green
  • 1919–1925 Miss A. Luke (Mrs Bennett)
  • 1922 Miss O'Connor (Mrs.G.Gough)
  • 1925–1941 Miss Eva Prouse
  • 1946–1957 Miss Mary Glasgow
  • 1958–1977 Miss Elena M. Cooke
  • 1978–1979 Mrs Ang Siew Khim
  • 1980–1993 Miss Yeap Gaik Khoon
  • 1993–1995 Mrs Hew Yoon Yew
  • 1996–1998 Pn. Ainul Zaharah bt Abdul Rahman
  • 1998 Pn. Norma bt Hashim
  • 1999–2003 Pn. Noor Rezan bt. Bapoo Hashim
  • 2003–2007 Pn. Noor Ainun bt. Dato' Seri Yang Rashdi(Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Seri Bintang Utara)
  • 2007–2008 Pn. Noraini bt. Mohd Ali(Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Seri Bintang Utara)
  • 2009 Pn. Kamariah @ Che Seah(Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Seri Bintang Utara)
  • 2009 – present Pn. Che Hasnah (SMK Seri Bintang Utara)

Primary School 1
  • 1957–1969 Mrs Chuah Kim Neo
  • 1969–1979 Mrs Siew Pick Yoke
  • 1979–1983 Mrs Eshter Navarajasingam
  • 1983–1991 Puan Maheran bt Kuntom
  • 1992 Puan Laila bt Mohd Nor

Primary School 2
  • 1958–1977 Miss Ma Tak Yan
  • 1978–1979 Mrs Leong Siew Tin
  • 1979–1983 Mrs Lim Eng Nyun (Acting Head)
  • 1984–1990 Mrs Chong Hun Fui
  • 1990 Datin Lily Wong

Notable alumni

  • Fong Foong Mei, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist
  • Saidah Rastam, composer, lawyer.
  • Dato Yasmin Yusuff, former Miss Malaysia, celebrity DJ and Host.
  • Sandra Sodhy, actor, playwright, famous voice.
  • Shayna Zaid, New York-based singer/songwriter & recording artist.
  • Sasha Saidin, singer
  • Poesy Liang
    Poesy Liang
    Founder of Helping Angels. A Malaysian-Taiwanese artist, writer, poet, multidisciplinary designer, jeweller, entrepreneur, philanthropist and motivational speaker who survived 3 spinal surgeries and battled paralysis caused by a rare case of benign tumour that kept recurring within her spinal cord...

    , founder of Helping Angels
    Helping Angels
    A global Facebook group to recruit volunteers to do welfare work founded by Poesy Liang on August 30, 2007 - a day before Malaysia's 50th Year Independence Day. It is a movement of compassion based on random acts of kindness. Activities are created by volunteers who offers leadership to drive...

    , survivor of spinal tumours, designer, writer, artist.
  • Cilla Foong, Modelling agency owner, industry pioneer.
  • Juwita Suwito, singer, recording artiste.
  • Dato Nancy Yeoh, PR doyenne, CEO and President of STYLO Fashion Festival
  • Suridah Jalaluddin, CEO of NTV7
  • Meera Samanther, President of Women's Aid Organisation Malaysia
  • Carolyn Au Yong, Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist Gymnast
  • Datin Linda Ngiam, Group COO & ED of The Star
  • Dr. Zaha Rina Zahari, COO of KLOFFE
  • Elizabeth Lee, ED of Sunway University and Sunway Group of Colleges
  • Ras Adiba, TV celebrity presenter
  • Lim Wei Ming, Deputy Director of UNHCR New York
  • Norina Yahya, Talk Show Host, Advocate & Solicitor
  • Dr. Mok Quen Quen Consultant Paediatrician, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and Portland Hospital for Women and Children
  • Nurzizi Zulkifli, Prominent Malaysian Theater Educationist
  • Praevitriana Yuliawiratman, TV3 Newscaster


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