** boy scout uniforms: national uniforms -- Asia

National Boy Scout Uniforms: Asian Countries

Figure 1.--These Hong Kong Cubs are engaging in a kind of wrestling game. Cubs love games and games like these are one of the most popular aspects of Cubbing. Games are a part of Cubbing shared all over the world.

Asia is another region where the Scouting movement has not been particularly strong. The movement exists pfrinmarily in former British colonies like India. There is also a strong movement in areas where America has neen present like Japan and Korea, There are limits on youth groups in Japan, however, because of the enormous demands that the schools place on children by the time they reach junior high school. Of course Communist China, the world's most populce country--does not permit Scouting. Children are virtually required to join the Young Pioneers. Please have a look at available information on Scouting in the following countries and the development of the various national uniforms in each different country.


Armenia was an ancient kingdom conquered by a series of empires. In the modern era Armenians lived largely in the Russian and Ottomon Empires. I do not know if any Scout troops were organized in either area before World War I (1914-18). The large Armenian population was masacred by the Turks during world war I in a grusome Genocide designed as a massive ethnic cleansing operation. Small numbers of Armenians managed to escape to neighboring Middle Eastern and Balkan countries. Armenians in those countries formed separate Boy Scout units. The Armenians Boy and Girl Scouts in Bulgaria were called Zilia. We also notice Armenian Scouts in Egypt. The Armenian part of the Soviet Union became independent after the disolution of the Soviet Union. We do not yet know about the status of Scouting in independent Armenia.


Azerbaijan has a small Scouting movement. As part of the Soviet Union, boys in Azerbaijan participated in the Young Pioneer movement. We know llittle about youth groups since independence (1992). The Azerbaijan Scouting Association was founded in 1997. The Association, open to boys and girls from 6 to 21 years of age. The Association focus on the both the physical strengthening of youth and development of their character. The Association also promotes a range of civil improvement projects. The first group of Azeri Scouts was sounded in 1997. The first 30 Scouts had triped by 2000 and conducted various camping expeditions near Nabran, a small town some 220 kilometers from Baku in the mountains near the Azeri-Russian border. The Scouts worked on learned fire-making techniques, map and compass reading skills for countryside orientation.navigation as well as how to safely cross-mountain rivers. They also discuss public affairs issues such as human rights and conflict resolution. Like other Scouts there are evening campfires to tell stories and sing songs. One reader has forward an image showing a group of Sea Scouts.




The Chinese Scout movement was founded in 1912. Its growth was limited by the poverty and turmoil experienced in China during the early 20th century. Scouts initially came from small, relatively affluent European oriented population of China. The movement grew and by the 1940s over a half milliion Chinese boys had become Scouts. The Communists abolished Scouting in China aftter their victory in 1948, repacing it with the Party controlled Young Pioneer Movement. Scouting continued on Taiwan where the Nationlist Chinese found refuce.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Scouts since their foundation have faced many crisis. None have been more severe than the Japanese occupation. The Scouts now face a new crisis, the 1997 incorporation into the People's Republic which does not permit Scouting. The Chinese Government has permitted Hong Kong's democratic institutions to continue. The Scouts continue to function, but thevlong term future of Scouting with its British traditions, including the uniform, are unknown. The Hong Kong Scout Movement began informally in 1909, only a few years after it began in England, when groups of scouts were first established. Organized scout groups were founded in 1911 by British merchants and army officers. The Hong Kong Branch was formally registered in 1913 with the London Headquarters of the Boy Scouts Association (now the Scout Association).


I have no information on Indian Scouting at this time. India was a British colony at the time Scouting was founded and thus was intriduced to India during the British Raj. As many other asoects of British culture, the Indians appear to have took to Scouting enthusiastically.


We currently have no information on Iraqi Boy Scouts. We do know that the movement exited in the 1920s as they sent a contingent to the World Jamboree in England. The uniform at that time included rather distinctive head gear.



The Scout Movement reached Japan in 1913 only a few years after it was founded in England during 1907 by Lord Robert Baden-Powell. The Japanese National Association was organized in Japan during 1922. Japan has since had an active if small Boy Scout movement. Since then, despite a short disruption during World War II, the Movement has steadily grown on the social, cultural and traditional soil of our country, and established an eminent place for itself in social education for young people. Scoting has been seen by some as part of the country's modernization process. By others it was seen as a Western asault on traditional Japanese values. It was banned by the Japanese militarists during World War II. After the War, however, the Japese embraced Scouting as they did all things America. The national association was re-admitted as a full member of International Conference of the Scout Movement in 1950. Scouting is currently a popular activity, although Japanese boys do not have the same amount of spare time as American boys, especially boys in secondary school.


The Scout Movement of Korea (BSKI) was founded in October 1922. Sir Lee Sang-Jae is elected as the first President of the BSKI in March 1924. At the time there were many limitations on Korean Scouts. Korea was a Japanese colony and any demonstration of Korean nationalism was discouraged and dangerous. The Japanese prohibited Scouting in Korea during March 1937 as relations with western Goverments began to deteriorate as the Japanese militarists expanded their expanionist policies in Manchuria and China. Not only were the Japanese concerned about any expression of Korean nationalism, but Scouting' western image and internationalist principles were increasdingly alien to Japan's militant nationalism.



Scouts are the most important youth movement in Malysia. The Malaysian Scout association is the Persekutuan Pengakap Malaysia (The Scouts Association of Malaysia). It includes both boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 17. Persekutuan Pengakap Malaysia (PPM) is part of the global Scouting movement and national member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM). It is the only uniformed body in Malaysia to have been established and officially regulated by an act of Parliament through the Scouts Association Of Malaysia (Incorporation) Act 1968. The history of Scouting in Malaysia is a little complicated becuse Scouting was founded in the the country while it was still the British colon of Malaya. The colony was not a centalized colony, but a federation. And it included Singapore which is now an independent country. Scouting first appeared in in Singapore where the British presence was strongest (1908), but was not officially founded until 2 years late (1910). Scoutmaster Frank Cooper Sands, newly arrived in Singapore from Nottingham, organized two Boy Scout troops in Singapore for the children of the British colonists. Scouting proved popular and spread to other parts of the Straits Settlements and what were to become the states of Malaysia. Sands spent the next 40 years working with rhe Scout movement. He is considered to be the "Father of Malayan Scouting".


The Maldives are an island nation off the southern tip of India. The Scout Association of Maldives (Divehi ދިވެހިރާއްޖޭގެ ސްކައުޓް އެސޯސިއޭޝަން) was founded (1963). This seems rather a late date. We are not sure why Scouting was founded at such a late date. It became a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (1990). Divehi Scouting is now coeducational. There is also girl guiding with separte girl units. There are now more than 100 Scout units with over 5,500 Scouts. We do not have much informtion on Maldives Scouting. We believe that most if not all Maldives Scout units are associated with schools. The Maldives is a Muslim country. We do not know if Mosques also sponsor Scout units. The levels inclue: Cub Scouts (7-11 years), Scouts (12-15 years), and Rovers (16-20 years). Scout unifoirms seem to vary. Some units incorporate part bof the school uniform. We see Cubs wearing tan shirts and blue short pants. We see Scouts wearing tan shirts with black long pnts. We are not sure if the long pants are the Scout uniform or the school uniform. Boy Scout Mohammed Jaisham Ibrahim saved President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom from assassination (2008).


Mauritius is a small archepeligo country in the Indian Ocean. It is perhaps best know as one of the countries which could easily disappear if global warming raises sea level. Mauritius was dominated over time by various Arab and European powers. During the Napoleonic war, the British seized contolled and ruled until independendence (1967). We have very limited information about youth groups in Mauritius. The only group we know of at this time is the Scouts. We know the Scouts were active in the 1970s, but have no current information about Mauritius Scouting.

Myamar (Burma)



Scouting was founded in Palestine (1912) while it was still part of the Ottoman Empire. We have no information on early Palestinian Scouting. I think that it was largely Christian Arabs who were involved, but I do not have a lot of informstion at this time. Palestine became a British League of Nations Mandate after World War I (1914-18). We have no details on Scouting during the inter-war era. The Palestinian Scout Association was recognized by the World Scout Bureau in 1945. I am not sure about the religious make up of the Palestinian Scouts at the time. The post-War situation deteriorated as violence escalated between Jews ans Arabs, leasing to the First Isreali-Arab War (1948-49). The World Scout Bureau withdrew recognition (1949). Official recognition was restored by the World Scout Conference (1996). The Palestinian Scout Association serves youth throughout the Palestinian Authority. The headquarters is in Ramallah in the West Bank. We are not sure about the status of Scouting in Gaza.


Frank Sands founded the first Scout troop in the YMCA during 1910. The Association now has a Bishan headquarters.

Sri Lanka

Ceylon was a British colony ad thus the Souting movement developed as the principal youth movement. We do not know much about Sri Lanka Scouting. Scouting is started in Sri Lanka during 1912. It is very popular among many school children. Boy Scouts between the ages of 11-15 are the largest, the Cub Scouts ages 7-11 comes second, and the Rover Scouts ages 15-24 comes third. The Scouts between 15 and 18 are referred to as Senior Scouts. In Sri Lanka all scouts should wear a standard uniform and the uniform varies according to their ages/levels. We notice some information on Cubs.


Following the birth of the Republic in 1912, the first scout troop was organized in WuChang on February 25th of the same year. The movement spread rapidly all over the county. The General Association was formally established in Nanking in 1934 and became a member of the International Scout Conference in 1937. The registered membership reached 570,000 in 1941. However, all Scouting activities were interrupted in 1949 when the Chinese communists took over the Mainland China. The Association was reorganized in 1950 in Taiwan, and resumed the membership of International Scout Conference. Since then it regained its vigorous momentum and became more active than ever. the membership is approaching 70,000 in 1997.


Thailand has one of the most unique Scouting programs in the world. Scouting is part of the school curriculum. One day a week Thai students come to school in their Scout uniforms and engage in Scouting instructional and recreational activities.


We have no current information on Scouting in Turkey. We note a 1915 account showing photographs of Turkish Boy Scouts, who are being turned into a military training corps in 1915 as Turkey entered World War II. Some scouts are shown drilling with Bulgarian weapons captured from Bulgaria in the Balkan War. ["Turkey fllows ...]

Figure 3.--Scouts and Cubs in the Islamic world often wear long pants, or like this UAE Cub, very long short pants.

United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emriate Scouts rather like British Scouts wear teal colored long pants. Cubs wear very long short pants. Note the length of the shorts. Although in the modern longer style, it should be remembered that on religious grounds, Sharjah is strict over the wearing of shorts in public by men, and by women is a no-no. In the case of boys, a compromise is reached by allowing them to wear shorts but they must be of a longer length to just knee length.


There was a Boy Scout movement in French Indochina. The Scouting movement was founded in the French schools for French children and very well-to-do Vietnamese children attending the French schools. They were essentially French Scouts in Indochina. Most would s hsve been Catholics. Two Vietnamese athletes, Tran Van Khac and Ta Van Ruc, founded the "Dong Tu Quan" (Scouts) youth movement (1930). This was the foundation of the Vietnamese Scouting movement. Tran Van Khac is generally accepted as the founder of Vietnamese Scouting. This first Vietnamese troop pursued standfard Scouting actibities, but with a heavy emphasis on athletics. Other troops were founded before World War II. French Pioneers and the French Scouts assisted with the organization of the Viernamese troops. The boys were organized in three units: Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Senior Scouts. Andre Lefevre, a French Scoutmaster and chief of the French Freedom Scout Association, played a makjor role in the Vienamese Scout movement. He set set up a training camp and prpogram for 60 Vietnamese scoutmasters. The Federation of French Scouts sent Scoutmaster Raymond Schlemmer to help organize the Scouting movement in Indoichina (Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia). The Scouting movement at this time was much more developed in Vietnam than the rest of Indochina. Schlemmer help set up the Indo-Chineese Federation of Scouts. World War II disrupted the growth of the Scouting movement. After France fell to the Germans (June 1940), the Japanese seized control of first north Indochina and then the south. The French not only lost control, but a Communist independence movement grew in strength. The Scouts disbanded during the Japanese occupation (1940-45). The French reintroduced Scouting when they retuned (1945), but were defeated by the Viet Minh (1953). The Geneva Conference divided Vietnam. (1954). Many Cathlocs fled south and the Scouting movement continued there. The Viet Minh seized power in the North and establoshed a Communist government. The Noirth Vietnanese Communists banned Scouting. There were both Buddhisdt and Catholic Scouts in South Vietnam. We note Buddhist Boy Scouts protesting the South Vietnamese Government (1963). The Budhists saw the Government as dominsated by the Catholics. The Budhists seem to hsve thought that they would be better off under the Communists. The Communists banned Scouting and founded the Young Pioneer Movement. Of course this meant that there was no longer any protesrts against the Government.



HBU has obtained a number of images of Scout uniforms, but can not identify the nationality. If you can figure out what country these boys are from, please let HBU know.


"Turkey folows the Goose-step of Kaiserism, The War, unspecifdied 1915 edition. The War was an illustrated magazine with articles about the fighting published in Britain during the War.


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Created: February 9, 2001
Last updated: 11:14 PM 4/8/2010