Freemasons expansion in Asia due to expat interest

Published:  11 Dec at 6 PM
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The ancient society of Freemasons is surprisingly alive and thriving in Asia as incoming expats look for a professional association to help them settle in and do business.

Freemasonry, a supposedly secret society dating from the late 16th century, is seeing a revival in Asian countries as new expat blood arrives from the West and displaces its former stuffy, closed-door image. According to the Daily Telegraph, young professionals are signing up in droves, just as the association opens up to the public in an attempt to gain more relevance.

Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England Nigel Brown says that recognition for the Masons’ charitable donations and work as well as pro-activity in becoming more open was the way forward in the 21st century. He added there are many misconceptions and myths surrounding Freemasonry which need to be addressed by modernising the jargon.

Last week’s grand reopening of the historic Freemasons’ Hall in Singapore was overseen by Mr Brown, with Nick Jacobs, a British-born Australian Freemason, stating new expats are attracted to the association for its brotherly friendship. Of course, he added, there are many older Freemasons, but the new members are changing the face of the association.

Lodges in Asia are all about social activities as well as charitable works, with pub quizzes and inter-lodge paintballing games a popular addition to the calendars. Singapore district extends as far as Thailand and Malaysia, with eight English lodges in total under its umbrella.

Many Asian countries’ lodges are seeing a rise in membership, particularly those long- established since the colonial era. Briton Dennis Heath, a Singapore Freemason, puts the increase down to the history and traditions of the movement offering comfort in this fast-paced, digital world, but adds that the many false myths associated with joining need to be addressed.
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