The District Grand Lodge of the Middle East (DGLME) ranks among the most multinational, multiracial and multicultural Disricts within the Grand Lodge of Scotland. At one time or another, the DGLME was spread over six nations – Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Indonesia and Laos. It encompasses a geographical area of over 3,000,000 square kilometers and a populaiton of over 268,000,000 people.
The respective governments, economies and cultures within the DGLME are so diverse and diversified, yet Scottish Freemasonry has a created a common bond within the members of the various Lodges. Bagpipes and Haggis are accepted practices at Installation Meetings and Ladies Nights. Colourful Tartans are worn. No less than seven different Rituals are worked including the Standard, Modern, McBride and a Mandarin ritual.
The DGLME was consecrated in Kuala Lumpur on 20th October 1916 by R.W. Bro. F.M. Elliot, the RWDGM of the Eastern Archipelago. It served to bring together under one local banner, Lodge Scotia No. 1003, Lodge Tullibardine-in-the-East No. 1118 and Lodge Malaya No. 1146. Bro. Sir Eric Macfadyen, RWM of Lodge Tullibardine-in-the East was installed as the first District Grand Master of the DGLME and served until 1918.
The term Middle East has often been considered to refer geographically to countries west of India, but the name was accepted by all until 1951 when Bro. John Henry Mason Summers gave notice that the name be changed to District Grand Lodge of Malaya. Bro. Jimmy Laing expressed his opposition to the proposed change stating:
“Masonically, the Middle East is a clearly defined geographical area created to care for the Brethren who were outside the scope of the Near East and the Far East, both of which Districts had been created earlier. The use of the words Middle East to describe North African territory sprang up during World War II after the whole of the East had been lost. The word Malaya has not even the merit of common usage. Tradition merits the retention of the present Middle East.”
Various definitions of Malaya and South East Asia were produced from various authorities to support the original proposition and various amendments. But daughter Lodges were not in favour of the change and the original title has remained intact.
At present, the DGLME comprises 21 Lodges.