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A Death in Hong Kong: The MacLennan Case of 1980 and the Suppression of a Scandal, a recounting of the death of John MacLennan, a policeman in late-colonial Hong Kong, won the 2017 Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong History Book Prize. The Chamber is delighted to present Mr Lt Col Nigel Collett, the author of the book, who will talk about this fascinating case and the light it shines on this period of Hong Kong's recent history.

In January 1980, a young police officer named John MacLennan committed suicide in his Ho Man Tin flat. His death came hours before he was due to be arrested for committing homosexual acts -- still, at that point, illegal in Hong Kong. But this was more than the desperate act of a young man, ashamed and afraid. Both his death and the subsequent investigation were a smokescreen for a scandal that went to the heart of the establishment.

MacLennan arrived in Hong Kong from Scotland during a time of social unrest and corruption scandals, and when the triads still held sway. It was also a time when homosexuality and paedophilia were often conflated and both offered easy targets for blackmail.

The governorship of Sir Murray MacLehose was a time of reform and progress, but with that remit came a determination among many to suppress scandals and silence those who stirred up trouble. Both the life and death of John MacLennan seemed to many of those in power to threaten the stability of one of Britain's last colonies.

The book will be available on sale at the event and members will have the opportunity to have their copies autographed.

Speakers' presentations at this event are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed during this event are those of the speakers and participants and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, its members, or its committees. The Chamber does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented. Attendees should note that, with the approval of speakers, this event may be recorded, and possibly published on the Chamber's website in audio and/or video formats without further notice.

Recording, duplication or distribution of the contents of the online event is prohibited without prior written permission from the Chamber.

Speaker(s) Mr Lt Col Nigel Collett is also the author of Firelight of a Different Colour: The Life and Times of Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing (Signal 8 Press, 2014) and the definitive biography on the brigadier-general who perpetrated the Jallianwala Bagh massacre: The Butcher of Amritsar: General Reginald Dyer (Bloomsbury Academic, 2006).

Mr Collett is a former lieutenant-colonel in the British forces in Hong Kong and Brunei and a thirty-year Hong Kong resident.
Language English
Date and Time 2018/07/04 12:30 to 14:00
Venue Chamber Theatre, 22/F United Centre
Media Closed to media
Enquiries Caleb Cheung
Tel: 28231297
Fee Members @ HK$190 / Non-Members @ HK$400
+$50 for booking offline
This event accepts Chamber Coupon (terms and conditions)
Members enjoy 30% discount with BOC HKGCC VISA Card
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- Members paying with their BOC HKGCC Visa Card will enjoy a 30% discount on their reservation. The discount is only applicable to the card holder, and does not extend to their guests. The discount cannot be used in conjunction with Chamber Coupons.
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