THE rapidly decreasing primacy of the role of the British in Hong Kong exhibits itself in many and varied ways. For example, aficionados of social chitchat may have noticed a subtle slant towards localisation in their favourite magazine, the Hong Kong Tatler. The logo of former editions of the glossy publication was decorated by an old-fashioned British figure, complete with red frock coat, wig and gaiters. That handsome gent, known as the Bystander, has now been replaced with a far more indigenous fellow in traditional Chinese robes. Dr Mahabir Mohindar, owner of the Hong Kong version of the magazine, denies the switchover was part of a legal settlement with Conde Nast, publishers of the British edition on which the Bystander also features. Instead, he says it is a move to make it more relevant to the local market. 'We are shaking off the shackles of colonialism,' he said. 'The old image was simply not relevant any more.' Dr Mohindar said editions of the 18-year-old magazine in Thailand and Malaysia would also have specially designed, locally significant figures on their logos. 'It gives the magazines a distinctive identity,' he said. The Bystander was at the centre of a row last year when Conde Nast flew some heavyweight lawyers from London to Hong Kong in an attempt to stop Dr Mohindar from using him. Local editions of the British Tatler also bore a sticker marked with the words: 'The only authentic Tatler.' Relationships between the two organisations are very harmonious now, said Dr Mohindar: 'They are absolutely excellent. We are very good friends.' Under the terms of the settlement, Dr Mohindar said his magazine would only be available in Asia. 'We are seeking to expand in Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan and China,' he said. 'It can only be bought in ki-osks in hotels in China at the moment. 'We had hoped to open an office in Shanghai but we couldn't cut through the red tape. We couldn't get permission to distribute the darn thing. They didn't give us any reasons as to why.'