The idea of co-operatives was first introduced by Sir Arthur Young (British Secretary of the Straits Settlement) in the States of Malaya in 1907 as a result of his observations towards the success of co-operative movement in Cyprus.

Initially, the co-operative movement was given less attention by the people as it was thought to have elements of doubt.

From 14 April to 23 June 1921, Sir Alexander Cavendish, the British assistant advisor was sent to Myanmar to study and further make recommendations on the suitable methods to introduce co-operatives in Malaya.

Upon his return from Myanmar, a report was tabled in the Federal Council on 12 December 1921 for debate purposes.

Chronology of the Co-operative Movement in Malaysia
Here are some of the important dates involving the development of the co-operative movement in Malaysia.

Date/Year Sequence of Events
 28-06-1922 The first co-operative law, the Co-operative Societies Enactment 1922 was approved by the Federated Malay States Meeting Council.
 01-07-1922 The Co-operative Development Department was established and chaired by Mr. A. Cavendish (First Registrar).
 15-07-1922 The Co-operative Societies Enactment 1922 gazetted.
 21-07-1922 The FIRST co-operative registered, Syarikat Bekerjasama-sama Jimat Cermat dan Pinjaman Wang Pekerja-Pekerja, Jabatan Pos and Telekom Berhad.
This co-operative is still active till today by the name Koperasi Telekom Malaysia Berhad (KOTAMAS) and Koperasi Pos Nasional Berhad (KOPONAS).
 03-12-1923 The first rural co-operative registered, Syarikat Kampong Tebuk Haji Musa Berkerjasama-sama Dengan Tanggungan Berhad, Parit Buntar, Krian, Perak.
 1924 In 1924, Capt. Mohamed Noor Hashim was appointed as Assistant Registrar (the first Malay officer to be appointed as Assistant Registrar of Co-operatives).
 1924 Following demands and aims to extend the co-operative movement, the Headquarters of the Co-operative Department was moved from Taiping, Perak to Kuala Lumpur.
 1926 The Co-operative Board was set up to advise the government in matters related to co-operatives.
 29-04-1926 The Malayan Co-operative Conference was held.
1935 The 1922 Enactment revised and published as FMS Cap. 97.
1938 A total of 76 credit type co-operatives were established with a total membership of 30,626 and a fee amounting to RM6,393,100.
1939 Total number of co-operatives stands at 515.
1941-1945 The co-operative movement stopped due to the outbreak of the Second World War. Many leaders of co-operatives were detained by the Japanese Army.
1948 The Co-operative Societies Enactment 1922 was repealed and replaced with the Co-operative Societies Ordinance 1948.
1949 The Sarawak Co-operative Ordinance 1949 approved.
1949 The Malaya Cooperative Wholesalers (MCWS) was established. The establishment of this co-operative is beneficial to control the distribution and transportation of food items to areas exposed to communist influence.
1953 The Co-operative Development Department had established the Marketing Division due to the expansion of marketing and processing activities among co-operatives.
1953 The Co-Operative Union Malaya was established. This co-operative actively manages co-operative development programmes such as seminars, courses, etc.
1954 A total of 172 marketing type co-operatives were registered with a circulating capital of RM10.5 million.
02-08-1954 The Malaysian Co-operative Insurance Society (MCIS) was registered.
1954 The establishment of Bank Persatuan Kerjasama. Later merged with Bank Agung Kampong Bekerjasama Persekutuan Tanah Melayu. This bank co-operative is known as Bank Kerjasama Rakyat Malaysia Berhad (Bank Rakyat).
1955 A total of 22 housing co-operatives were registered.

The establishment of the Maktab Kerjasama Malaysia (MKM), with Datuk Abdul Majid b. Haji Mohamed appointed as the first principal.
MKM is now known as Maktab Koperasi Malaysia (Co-operative College of Malaysia).

1957 A total number of 2,243 co-operative companies, with a circulating capital accumulating RM74,051,354 and total membership of 267,685.
1958 Sabah Co-operative Ordinance 1958 approved.
1965 School co-operative is introduced.
1966 The first Malaysian Co-operative Congress was convened in the University of Malaya with aims at establishing a national co-operative union, intended to unite all co-operatives within one comprehensive movement.
4-11-1969 The co-operative of Sekolah Menengah Dr. Burhanudin, Taiping becomes the first school co-operative to be registered.
1971 The establishment of Angkatan Koperasi Kebangsaan Malaysia (ANGKASA), as an outcome from the second Malaysian Co-operatives Congress.
1972 The establishment of the Farmers Organisation Authority (FOA). Simultaneously, a total of 1,550 agro-based co-operatives were placed under the supervision of FOA.
1975 The establishment of the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia (LKIM) and a total of 76 fishermen co-operatives were placed under the supervision of LKIM.
1976 Amendment to the Co-operative Societies Ordinance 1948 by including the co-operative principles and use of new definitions on certain terms.
28-01-1982 Launching of the New Era of Co-operatives with introduction to the four (4) new types of co-operatives: KPD, KIK, KPP and KPN.
1983 Revisions to the Co-operative Societies Ordinance 1948 and known as the Co-operatives Societies Act 1948 (Revised 1983).
1986 The co-operative movement suffered a dark period when 24 Deposit Taking Co-operatives were placed under receivers.
1988 A total of 2,913 registered co-operatives in Malaysia: 2,138 in the Peninsular, 322 in Sabah and 443 in Sarawak. The total membership is more than 2.8 million.
1987 The Co-operative Central Bank (CCB) was investigated by the Central Bank of Malaysia due to management and insolvency issues.
1988 As a result of the investigation, CCB was placed under the audit firm as receiver.
1990 The Department of Co-operative Development (JPK) placed under the Ministry of Land and Co-operative Development.
1990 Number of registered co-operatives in Malaysia stands at 3,028, with a total membership of 3.33 million, share capital of RM1.64 billion and RM6.15 billion worth in assets.
22-01-1993 The Co-operative Societies Act 1993 received Royal consent after being tabled in Parliament.
04-02-1993 The Co-operative Societies Act 1993 published in the gazette.
22-01-1994 The Co-operative Societies Act 1993 enforced.
Sept 1995 The Co-operative Societies Act 1993 amended by adding the new 71A section which is the guideline in liquidating and restructuring a co-operative into a company.
14-12-1996 With the existence of section 71A, history was made when Koperasi Usaha Bersatu Malaysia Berhad (KUBB) was deregistered in order for it to be the first corporatised co-operative.
21-07-2002 The first Co-operative Day was held at PWTC.
29-01-2004 The National Co-operative Policy 2002 - 2010 was launched by the Prime Minister.
April 2004 The Department of Co-operative Development Malaysia was placed under the Ministry of Entrepreneur and Co-operative Development (MeCD). This ministry makes entrepreneurship as the core in co-operative development.
01-01-2008 The Department of Co-operative Development Malaysia was incorporated and known as the Malaysia Co-operative Societies Commission (SKM). Following this change, all co-operatives under the purview of LLP and LKIM were taken over completely by SKM.
2008 The Department of Co-operative Development Malaysia was placed under the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism (KPDNKK) after MeCD was dissolved.
16-07-2010 YB Dato' Sri Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob, Minister of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism, officiated the first Malaysian-owned dialysis centre operated by Koperasi Warga Universiti Sains Malaysia Kelantan.
22-09-2012 The signing of a co-operative partnership ceremony between Malaysian and Indonesian co-operatives held at the JW Marriott Hotel, Medan, Indonesia.
26-09-2012 The Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony in the field of co-operatives between the Malaysian and Vietnamese governments held at SSM, KL Sentral.
30-07-2013 The Malaysia Co-operative Societies Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Central Bank of Malaysia, witnessed by YB Dato' Paduka Ahmad Bashah bin Md Hanipah, Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism.