Upcoming Events

THE NATIONAL SECURITY LAW AND THE FUTURE OF SCOTTISH BAGPIPING IN HONG KONG

Bagpiping has a long tradition in Hong Kong. Like other British colonies, the bagpipe was introduced to Hong Kong in the late 19th century by the British Army. Besides British military pipe bands, many civilian pipe bands were set up in the territory in the 20th century. Although the British Army already retreated from Hong Kong in 1997 due to the handover, bagpiping as a cultural form is still generally active in this territory.

However, in the event of the recent political developments in Hong Kong, the position of the Scottish bagpipes in Hong Kong has changed. Since the enforcement of the National Security Law in 2020, the Hong Kong Government has been accelerating the decolonisation process. For example, Scottish tunes are no longer allowed to play in the police pipe band and other government pipe bands; tartan is removed from the uniform. Can this art survive in post-colonial Hong Kong? Especially when the post-colonial political controversy is so intense nowadays.

As a professional bagpiper myself, I will present why and how the political environment influences this piping culture in Hong Kong. Materials were mostly collected from ethnography interviews, secondary sources such as archives and news, as well as different observations as an insider. I will also present the latest survey data collected from Hong Kong just before the enforcement of the National Security Law in this paper. The survey results show what bagpipers and drummers in Hong Kong think of this colonial musical instrument's future.

  • King's Hall, the University of Newcastle

  • Saturday, March 12, 2022

  • 9 am UK time

WAS MURRAY MACLEHOSE OVERPRAISED IN HONG KONG? REFLECTING ON THE MACLEHOSE ERA

Murray MacLehose, the 25th Governor of Hong Kong, was the longest-serving Governor in the history of the colony, holding the post for four successive terms from 1971 to 1982. He proposed and implemented a series of policies that brought significant reforms to Hong Kong. These included housing, transport, anti-corruption, welfare, and education. The reforms not only improved people's living standards, but also created for Hong Kong people a sense of belonging to the colony. While the mainstream of Hong Kong society regarded MacLehose as a respected governor, was his tenure in actual fact praiseworthy? This lecture will revisit Murray MacLehose's governorship and show that he was less than perfect. As he tried to balance local and British interests within the colony, he resisted some reforms, particularly political, anti-corruption and social security. He indeed worked hard to perform his duty and defended well Hong Kong's interests during his governorship.

Booking: Please email membership@royalasiaticsociety.org.hk in advance to register your attendance.

  • The Royal Asiatic Society

  • Saturday, September 18, 2021

  • 10.30 am UK time

COLONIAL LEGACY AND INHERITANCE: SCOTTISH BAGPIPES CULTURE IN SINGAPORE

This paper seeks to discuss the development of Scottish piping in Singapore, a former British Colony in the Far East, and showcase how Scottish culture being spread under British colonialism, and preserved in the post-colonial era. This paper will first present the history of the Scottish regiments and military piping in pre-World War II Singapore. The paper will then discuss the role of the RAF Seletar Pipe Band and how the band impressed Lee Kuan Yew, the founding Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore. The paper will also discuss how regimental pipe bands provided a role model for independent Singapore, whose government announced the creation of the Republic's first women pipe band in 1967, just two years after the independence. Over the past decades, the women pipe band has played an important role in promoting piping in Singapore as the band has provided many tutors to the Boys Brigade pipe bands, where teenagers can learn the bagpipes nowadays. This paper concludes that the historical link and inheritance make this colonial culture is robust in post-colonial Singapore.

  • The University of Plymouth

  • Friday, June 18, 2021

  • 10 am UK time