20 February 2019 – The ‘Shirt-Sleeved Diplomat’: Malcolm MacDonald in Malaya and Singapore

The ‘Shirt-Sleeved Diplomat’: Malcolm MacDonald in Malaya and Singapore

7.00pm Wednesday, 20 February 2019
The Tanglin Club
5 Stevens Rd
Singapore 257814

Southeast Asian Ceramic Society (SEACS) members are invited to a dinner organised by SEACS and The China Society and a special talk by our special guest speaker, Alexander Shaw, who will share British diplomat Malcolm MacDonald’s time in Singapore and Malaya at a historical juncture between 1946 and 1955: the friendships he made, the diplomacy he conducted, the art he loved and his role in the development of two independent nations. Alexander is no stranger to both SEACS and the China Club, and he is the author of the recently published biography of Malcolm’s life and work – The Pleasures and Pain of Collecting.

In 1946, the British diplomat Malcolm MacDonald became Governor General of Malaya, Singapore and Borneo. In 1948 he was promoted to the new office of Commissioner General for Southeast Asia, overseeing all British diplomatic and colonial activities in the area. Until 1955 he lived and worked in Singapore and Malaya. These were amongst the happiest times in his life. Malcolm quickly fell in love with the art, history and cultures of these nations. He made many friends, particularly with fellow collectors. Malcolm’s approach to diplomacy was informal and unconventional. The British press dubbed him ‘the shirt-sleeved diplomat’.

Malcolm was in Singapore and Malaya during a critical period in their history. He hoped to use his position as Chancellor of the University of Malaya and patron of many societies to promote the development of a distinctly Singaporean cultural identity. As an art connoisseur, he supported living local artists as well as investing in ancient Chinese ceramics.

SEACS invites you and your guests to a wonderful evening with Malcolm MacDonald. The cost per person (including wine) is $55. Smart dress for attire (have fun if you like e.g. 60s attire, ‘red sea dress’, black and white, medals etc).


SEACS members who are interested to attend must RSVP by 1 February 2019 to seacs.secretary@gmail.com to complete a reservations form and return the completed form latest by 5 February 2019. There will be no walk-ins. Vegetarian menu can be ordered by special request.