Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Class Structure and Social Mobility in the Chinese Community in Singapore and Malaya 1800–1911

  • Yen Ching-Hwang (a1)
Extract

The social history of the Chinese community in Singapore and Malaya in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries cannot be fully understood if aspects of class structure and social mobility are not examined. Of course, the social relations of the Chinese were principally determined by kinship and dialect ties, but they were also affected by class affiliations. Class status, like kinship and dialect relations distanted Chinese immigrants from one another. This paper seeks to examine the nature and structure of Chinese classes, class relations and the channels of social mobility in the Chinese community in Singapore and Malaya during the period between 1800 and 1911. The findings of this paper may be applicable to other overseas Chinese communities in the same period outside this region.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Class Structure and Social Mobility in the Chinese Community in Singapore and Malaya 1800–1911
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Class Structure and Social Mobility in the Chinese Community in Singapore and Malaya 1800–1911
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Class Structure and Social Mobility in the Chinese Community in Singapore and Malaya 1800–1911
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
References
Hide All

1 See Gungwu, Wang, ‘Traditional Leadership in a New Nation: The Chinese in Malaya and Singapore’, in Wijeyawardene, G. (ed.), Leadership and Authority: A Symposium (Singapore, 1968), p. 210; see also Gungwu, Wang, Community and Nation: Essays on Southeast Asia and The Chinese (Singapore, 1981), p. 162.

3 This term is still popularly used in Singapore and Malaysia. The association of mining proprietors is called ‘K'uang-shang kung-hui’, and the term ‘K'uang-shang’ is frequently used by local Chinese newspapers to refer to those mining proprietors.

4 For a discussion of the impact of Confucianism on traditional Chinese class structure, see Chu, Tung-tsu, ‘Chinese Class Structure and Its Ideology’, in Fair-bank, J. K. (ed.), Chinese Thought and Institutions (Chicago, 1967), pp. 235–50.

5 Sing Po editorial commented that more and more Chinese merchants were interested in acquiring Ch'ing official titles because of their increasing consciousness of status and prestige. See Sing Po, 9/8/1892, pp. 1 and 8. For a discussion of the motives of acquiring Ch'ing titles by the Chinese in Singapore and Malaya during this period, see Ching-hwang, Yen ‘Ch'ing's Sale of Honours and the Chinese Leadership in Singapore and Malaya 1877–1912’, in Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, vol. 1, no. 2 (Singapore, 1970), pp. 2032.

6 See Ho, Ping-ti, The Ladder of Success in Imperial China (New York, 1964), pp. 18ff.

7 The wearing of Chinese jackets and robes can be seen from photographs of some wealthy Chinese in Singapore, in particular the photograph of Hoo Ah Kay, Tan Beng Swee, Ong Sam Leong, Wee Ah Hood, and Lee Cheng Yan, see Siang, Song Ong, One Hundred Years' History of the Chinese in Singapore (London 1923; Singapore, 1967, reprint), pp. 52111; I guess that most of the jackets and robes of these wealthy Chinese were made of good quality silk, partly because a large quantity of Soochow and Hangchow silk (the best produced in China) was imported and sold in Singapore. Chop Mei Jui Ho, for instance, was famous for its dealing in Soochow and Hangchow silk. See Huang Shan-ju, ‘Wu-Shih chiu nien te hui-ku’ (Reminiscence of My Past Fifty-Nine Years), in Chai-ning, Huang (ed.), Hsin-chia-po Ning-yang hui-kuan i-pai san-shih chou-nien chi-nien t'e-k'an (Souvenir Magazine of 130th Anniversary Celebration of the Ning Yeung Association of Singapore) (Singapore, 1952), ‘lun-chu’ column, pp. 912.

8 In February 1869, some wealthy Chinese merchants issued a circular requesting their friends to distinguish themselves from the members of the lower classes by wearing stockings. See Siang, Song Ong, Chinese in Singapore, p. 153.

9 See Chin, Siah U (Seah Eu Chin), ‘General Sketch of the Numbers, Tribes, and Avocations of the Chinese in Singapore’, in Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia, vol. 2 (Singapore, 1848), p. 288.

10 In 1907, a skilled worker (fitter, moulder or brass worker) employed by the Messrs Riley Hargreave & Company Ltd earned at least $1.4 per day. He worked 6 days a week or more, so his income must have been at least $36 per month. A junior officer, such as clerk or draughtsman, earned between $40 and $50 a month in 1890. See Evidence given by C. E. F. Saunderson, Acting Managing Director of Messrs. Riley Hargreaves & Co. Ltd., on 10th August 1907’, in Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States Opium Commission 1908, Proceedings, vol. 2, p. 34; The Perak Government Gazette, 1890, vol. 3, no. 14, p. 284; The Perak Government Gazette, 1891, vol. 4, no. 4, p. 64.

11 Chin, Siah U, ‘General Sketch’ (see n.9), pp. 288–9; in 1847, Dr R. Little interviewed a group of opium smokers in prison in Singapore and found that most of them (29 out of 35) were coolies who spent most of their income on opium. The average monthly income was about S$4. See Little, R., ‘On the Habitual Use of Opium in Singapore’, in Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia, vol. 2 (1848), pp. 41–2.

12 At the turn of the present century, tin-mining workers in Malay earned between S$5 and S$8 per month. In 1911, the agricultural workers were paid from S$5 to S$g in Singapore and from S$6 to S$ 12 in Penang. See Straits Settlements Blue Books, 1911, p. W3; Jackson, R. N., Immigrant Labour and the Development of Malaya, 17861920 (Kuala Lumpur, 1961), p. 89.

13 Gan Ghoh Bee was the head of a syndicate which controlled the Penang Opium and Spirit Farms between 1901 and 1903. The net profit of the Farm was $700,000. Gan held one-fourth share of the syndicate which amounted to $ 150,000 for those three years. See ‘Correspondence regarding the Reduction in the Rent of the Penang Opium and Spirit Farms’, in Straits Settlements Legislative Council Proceedings 1905, appendix no. 10.

14 See Lat Pau (The Straits Daily), 1/9/1888, p. 2.

15 Lat Pau, 14/2/1889, p. 2.

16 Under Hong Lim's name, a sum of S$4000 was donated, his son Jim Hean donated S$1725, another son Jim Kheng $795, and another son Jim Chwan S$1450. See The Straits Times, 3/1/1890, p. 2; Pau, Lat 5/2/1890, pp. 56.

17 See Siang, Song Ong, Chinese in Singapore, p. 169.

18 Ibid., p. 184.

19 Obviously that donations for various relief funds in China were the payment for the purchase of Ch'ing honours. For details, see Ching-hwang, Yen, ‘Ch'ing Sale of Honours and the Chinese Leadership in Singapore and Malaya 1877–1912’, in Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, vol. 1, no. 2 (09 1970), pp. 2032.

20 This practice still can be seen in shops in Singapore and Malaysia.

21 See Chin, Siah U, ‘General Sketch’ (see n. 9), p. 288.

22 See Selangor Journal, vol. 4 (Kuala Lumpur, 1895), pp. 27–9.

23 See the ‘Petition of House-Owners in Singapore to the Governor and the Members of the Legislative Council of the Straits Settlements dated 29th October, 1875’, in Straits Settlements Legislative Council Proceedings 1876, appendix no. 9.

24 See Siang, Song Ong, Chinese in Singapore, p. 20.

25 See a court case involved in the dispute over inheritance of the estate of Seah Eu Chin (Siah U Chin) between Seah Liang Seah and Kiat, Seah Eng, in Straits Settlements Law Reports, vol. 4 (1897), p. 28.

26 See ‘Annual Report on the State of Selangor for the Year 1885’, in Straits Settlements Legislative Council Proceedings 1886, appendix no. 22, p. 284.

27 See Chin, Siah U, ‘General Sketch’ (see n. 9), p. 284.

28 For instance, a wealthy Chinese capitalist, Cheng Keng Kuei, once a Chinese Kapitan of Perak, had several wives and concubines; another wealthy Chinese in Penang, Hseuh Tseng-i also had at least five wives and concubines. See Kuo-hsiang, K'uang, Ping-ch'eng san-chi (Anecdotes of Penang) (Hong Kong, 1958), pp. 113, 120.

29 A number of mansions were built in Singapore in the second half of the 19th century by these wealthy capitalists. One of the mansions which was built by a well-known Teochew, Ch'en Hsu-nien, still exists in Singapore. See Ch'ing-chiang, Chang, ‘Ch'en Hsu-nien yu tzu-cheng ti’ (Ch'en Hsu-nien and his Mansion), in Lin Hsiao-sheng and others, Shih-le ku-chi (The Historical Relics of Singapore) (Singapore, 1975), pp. 225–30. Apart from mansions, the rich also built villas and gardens for enjoyment of their life. Cheang Hong Lim had a famous ‘Ming Yun villa’, Wu Chin-ch'ing, also known as Wu I-ting had a villa named ‘Teh Yuen Garden’. But the most famous garden was built by Hoo Ah Kay named ‘Nam Sang Garden’ which impressed many European and Chinese visiting dignitaries. See Pau, Lat, 5/6/1888, p. 1; Po, Sing, 3/5/1892, p. 1; Sung-t'ao, Kuo, Shih-hsi chi-ch'eng (The Record of an Envoy's Journey to the West); see also Frodsham's, J. D. English translation, in Frodsham, J. D. (trans.), The First Chinese Embassy to the West: The Journals of Kuo Sung-t'ao, Liu Hsi-hung and Chang Te-yi (Oxford, 1974), PP. 1314.

30 See Lat Pau, 10/12/1890, p. 1; see also Ching-hwang, Yen, ‘Ch'ing Sale of Honours’, p. 28.

31 For instance, a wealthy capitalist in Singapore, Choa Chong Long, celebrated his forty-fourth birthday by giving a grandiose dinner to all influential residents in the island, including many Europeans. European dishes and Chinese luxuries were served. See The Singapore Chronicle, 9/6/1831; Buckley, C. B., An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore 18191867 (Kuala Lumpur, 1965, reprint), p. 215; Siang, Song Ong, Chinese in Singapore, pp. 2930.

32 For instance, a wealthy capitalist in Singapore, Wu Hsin-k'o (or known as Wu Chin-ch'ing, or Wu I-ting, and in Song Ong Siang's work romanized as Goh Sin Kho), celebrated the occasion of receiving a tablet deed from the Ch'ing court in June 1888. A big party was thrown in his villa, Teh Yuan Garden, with fireworks. Among those invited were other wealthy capitalists and the Ch'ing Consul, Tso Ping-lung. Wu was the proprietor of the firm Goh Guan Loo and Company owning several saw-mills at Kallang and owner of steamships. Another wealthy capitalist, Khoo Seok Wan, in October 1901 celebrated his acquisition of the Chu-shih title and the Fourth Rank, and more than five hundred guests were invited. See ‘Teh-yuan yuan t'i-ch'in chi’ (The Gathering in the Teh Yuan Garden), in Lat Pau, 5/6/1888, p. 1; Siang, Song Ong, Chinese in Singapore, p. 318; Thien Nan Shin Pao, 26/10/1901, p. 9, 29/10/1901, p. 2.

33 See Sing Po, 3/5/1892, p. 1.

34 This practice is still common among shopkeepers in small towns in Malaysia.

35 See Vaughan, J. D., The Manners and Customs of the Chinese of the Straits Settlements (Taipei, 1971, reprint), p. 26.

36 Coolie is the transliteration of a Chinese term ‘K'u-li’ which means labourers. The term coolie became so popular in the West because of the massive number of Chinese labourers shipped to the new world. For a discussion of this term, see Irick, R. L., ‘Ch'ing Policy Toward The Coolie Trade, 1847–1878’ (an unpublished Ph.D. thesis of Harvard University, 1971) vol. 1, P. 3.

37 The term ‘sinkheh’ seems to be the romanization according to a Southern Fukienese dialect of ‘Hsin-k'e’ which literally means new guests.

38 See Jackson, R. N., Immigrant Labour and The Development of Malaya, p. 51.

39 Both official and private records have indicated that gambling and opium smoking were rife in the overseas Chinese community during this period. See Vaughan, J. D., ‘Notes on Chinese of Pinang’, in Journal of The Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia, vol. 8 (1854), pp. 25–7; Vaughan, J. D., The Manners and Customs of the Chinese of the Straits Settlements, pp. 5862; Pau, Lat, 27/11/1887, p. 1; C.O. 273/257, p. 625.Annual Departmental Reports of the Straits Settlements, 1904, pp. 108–9; Annual Departmental Reports of the Straits Settlements, 1908, pp. 8798.

40 The need of this large number of single male workers was reflected in the number of brothels and prostitutes. In 1905, there were 383 brothels in Singapore, 144 in Penang and 21 in Malacca; and there were 2710 prostitutes in Singapore, 1201 in Penang and 158 in Malacca. This gives a total number of 548 brothels in these three cities, and the total number of prostitutes was 4069. Apart from these registered brothels and prostitutes, there were also many illegal brothels and prostitutes. See Annual Departmental Reports of the Straits Settlements, 1905, p. 631; Lat Pau, 24/12/1887, p. 2, 13/12/1888, p. 1.

41 See Chin, Siah U, ‘General Sketch’, p. 285.

42 See Ching-hwang, Yen, ‘Early Chinese Clan Organizations in Singapore and Malaya 1819–1911’, in Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, vol. 12, no. 1 (March 1981), p. 81; Vaughan, J. D., ‘Notes on Chinese of Pinang’, p. 15; ‘Hsueh-lan-ngo Char-yang hui-ch'un kuan shih’ (A History of the Char Yang Recuperation Centre of Selangor)’, in Hsueh-lan-ngo Char-yang hui-kuan yu Char-yang hui-ch'un kuan pai-nien ta-ch'ing t'e-k'an (Souvenir Magazine of Centenary Celebration of the Char Yang Association and the Char Yang Recuperation Centre of Selangor) (Kuala Lumpur, 1977), p. 8.

43 For instance, a charitable organization named Chung-hua chi k'un-chi hui (The Chinese Charitable Association of Malacca) was founded by a British Missionary, William Milne, in 1819. Most of the recipients were crippled, old men and women. See Milne, William (ed.), Ch'a-shih shu mei-yueh t'ung-chi chuan (The Examiner), vol., 1st year of Tao-kuang reign (1821), pp. 5a–5b.

44 In September 1849, there was a report in The Singapore Free Press about a serious problem created by beggars in Singapore streets. They become visible in Market, Malacca and Hill Streets. They became more active on Sundays in Brass Bassa Road, Queen, Victoria, Church, Bencoolen and Middle Streets after divine service. Presumably they begged from Europeans and created a great nuisance for the general public. See The Singapore Free Press, 28/9/1849; for others reports on beggars, see also Pau, Lat, 23/1/1908, p. 1.

45 For instance, a coolie in Jelabu, Negri Sembilan, named Lim Nyun died in Jelabu hospital as the result of cutting his own throat. He was an old man emaciated by disease and opium smoking. See ‘Negri Sembilan Secretariat Files (British Resident's Office)’, 1902, no. 4413.

46 See Fatt, Yong Ching, ‘Chinese Leadership in Nineteenth Century Singapore’, in Hsin-she hsueh-pao (Journal of the Island Society) (Singapore, 1967), vol. 1. pp. 610.

47 See Ching-hwang, Yen, ‘Early Chinese Clan Organizations in Singapore and Malaya’, pp. 73–5.

48 For instance, Raffles placed greater value on merchants than ordinary Chinese, and prepared to give merchants special treatment in the allocation of areas for their residence. See Notices of Singapore’, in Journal of Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia, vol. 8 (1854), p. 102.

49 For instance, on the Po Leong Kuk Committee in Singapore for the year 1898, wellknown capitalists such as Tan Jiak Kim, Lee Cheng Yan, Gan Eng Seng and Ngo Siu Tin (Goh Siew Tin), Wee Kim Yam and Seah Song Seah were among those who were selected to represent different dialect groups. See Annual Report on the Chinese Protectorate for the year 1898’, in Straits Settlements Annual Departmental Report 1898, p. 115.

50 For example, Hoo Ah Kay and Tan Jiak Kim were conferred both British honours of C.M.G. and M.L.C., Seah Liang Seah, M.L.C., Lee Choon Guan, M.L.C., Eu Tong Seng, O.B.E., in Siang, Song Ong, Chinese in Singapore, pp. 55, 112, 194, 213, 332.

51 For instance, Hoo Ah Kay was made a member of Executive Council in 1869, later an extraordinary member of the Executive Council; Seah Liang Seah was appointed a member of the Legislative Council in 1883; Tan Jiak Kim was appointed a member of the Council in 1889. Ibid., pp. 55, 194, 213.

52 See ‘Annual Report on the Chinese Protectorate, Singapore, for the Year 1889’, in Straits Settlements Annual Departmental Reports 1889, p. 188.

53 For instance, in the 1899 Chinese Advisory Board of Singapore, well-known capitalists such as Tan Jiak Kim, Lee Cheng Yan, Tan Cheng Tuan, Go Sin Kho represented Hokkien group, while Seah Liang Seah, Wee Kim Yam, Chua Tzu Yong, represented Teochew group. See ‘Report on the Chinese Protectorate’, in Straits Settlements Annual Departmental Reports 1899, p. 302.

54 See ‘Annual Report of the Chinese Protectorate, for the year 1894’, in Straits Settlements Annual Departmental Reports 1894, p. 349.

55 For instance, the Penang Chinese Advisory Board in 1894 expressed its strong disapproval of the Women and Girls' Protection Ordinance Amendment, and insisted upon the necessity for a Reformatory. Ibid.

56 Since 1874, the Penang government had appointed some respectable Chinese as Jurors of the local court, many of them were clerks of foreign firms, on the Penang Juror list for the year 1882, Cheah Hay Seang was a cashier, Charter Bank; Lee Ah Seng, clerk of the Chartered Bank; Goh Quan Leam, clerk to A. M. Watson; Hoh Tek Cheong, clerk S. Kustermann & Co., Hoh Tek Keng, clerk, Brown & Co.; Koh Ah Fat, clerk, Brown & Co.; Neo Choo chye, cashier, Mercantile Bank; Pan Ah Fat, clerk, Chartered Bank; Soh Teng Gan, clerk, Mercantile Bank, and others. See ‘List of Penang Jurors for 1882’, in Straits Settlements Legislative Council Proceedings 1881, appendix no. 35. In 1881, eleven Chinese were appointed Jurors by the Malacca government for the year 1882, three of them belonged to the upper ‘Shih’ group. They were Chua Cheng Wee, clerk, Chua Kim Swee, auctioneer and Kho Choon Seng, Shroff of the Treasury Department. See ‘List of Malacca Jurors for 1882’, in ibid., appendix no. 36.

57 For the power and influence of the Yamen clerks and runners in Ch'ing China, see Chu, T'ung-tsu, Local Government in China under the Ch'ing (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1962), pp. 3673.

58 For factors leading to the founding of the Chinese Protectorates in the Straits Settlements, see Thio, Eunice, ‘The Singapore Chinese Protectorate: Events and Conditions Leading to its Establishment, 1823–1877’, in Journal of the South Seas Society (Singapore), vol. XVI, pts 1 and 2 (1960), pp. 4080.

59 The office of the Singapore Chinese Protectorate was opened on 1 June 1877. See ‘Annual Report of the Protector of Chinese for the Year 1877 by W. A. Pickering dated 12th January 1878’, in Straits Settlements Legislative Council Proceedings 1878, appendix no. 6.

60 In Kinta district, Perak, for instance, the Chinese Affairs office consisted of 5 people, the Acting Protector of Chinese, a Junior officer and 3 Chinese clerks. See The Perak Government Gazette 1891, vol. 4, no. 26, p. 765.

61 See ‘High Commissioner's Office Files (Federated Malay States)’, 105/1896.

62 See ‘Selangor Secretariat Files’ (British Resident's Office), 6746/1900.

63 See Pau, Lat, 23/1/1908, p. 1.

64 See Chin, Siah U, ‘General Sketch’ (see n. 9), p. 285.

65 See Pao, Thien Nan Shin, 15/5/1900, p. 2.

66 See Siang, Song Ong, Chinese in Singapore., p. 96; see also Ching-hwang, Yen, The Overseas Chinese and the 1911 Revolution: With Special Reference to Singapore and Malaya (Kuala Lumpur, 1976), p. 4; for a similar situation in the Chinese community in the Philippines, see Wickburg, E., The Chinese in Philippine Life (New Haven and London, 1965), p. 172.

67 Kapitan Yap Kwan Seng of Selangor, a Hakka, employed mostly Hakka coolies in his mines. In 1889, he had 7000 coolies on his pay roll. See ‘Evidence given by Yip Kim Sheng (Yap Kwan Seng) to the commission on 10th January 1891’ (Evidence 174), in ‘Report of the Commissioner Appointed to Enquire into the State of Labour in the Straits Settlements and the Protected Native States, 1891’, C.O. 275/41, also in Straits Settlements Legislative Council Proceedings 1891, appendix.

68 Sung Tzu-chiang, an employee of Wu Hsin-k'o, of Chop Teh Yuan in Singapore, appealed against Wu for his failure to pay verbally promised wages. This took place in 1888 or earlier. See ‘Petition of Sung Tzu-chiang to the Protector of Chinese of the Straits Settlements’, in Hare, G. T. (ed.), Text Book of Documentary Chinese, pt 1, vol. 1, pp. 1314.

69 See ‘Chinese Labourers in Province Wellesley: a Report by G. C. Wray, Acting Assistant Protector of Chinese, to the Resident Councillor of Penang dated 2nd June, 1890’ in Straits Settlements Legislative Council Proceedings 1890, appendix no. 21.

70 This was the evidence given by the Acting Senior District Officer of Province Wellesley, W. Egerton to the Labour Commission on 18 December 1890. Egerton stated that ill-treatment of Chinese coolies took place in both Chinese and European estates, and some coolies were tied up and beaten. See ‘Report of the Commissioners Appointed to enquire into the State of Labour in the Straits Settlements and the Protected Native States, 1891’, in C.O. 275/41.

71 See Stenson, Michael, Industrial Conflict in Malaya: Prelude to the Communist Revolt in 1948 (London, 1970), pp. 110.

72 See Ken, Wong Lin, The Malayan Tin Industry to 1914 (Tucson, 1965), p. 74.

73 See ‘Annual Report for the State of Jelabu for 1890’, in British Parliamentary Papers: Accounts and Papers, C. 6576, 1892, p. 79.

74 See ‘The Administration Report of the State of Selangor for the year 1893’, in British Parliamentary Papers: Accounts and Papers, C.7546, 1894, p. 27.

75 In 1899, the continued high price of tin created a great competition for labour in Selangor. High wages had been demanded by the coolies in tin mines. See ‘Annual Report of the Chinese Secretariat of Selangor for 1899’, in ‘Selangor Secretariat Files’ (British Resident's Office), 905/1900.

76 See ‘Chinese Labourers in Province Wellesley: a Report by G. C. Wray, Acting Assistant Protector of Chinese, to the Resident Councillor of Penang dated 2nd June, 1890’, in Straits Settlements Legislative Council Proceedings 1890, appendix no. 21; ‘Evidence given by W. Egerton, Acting Senior District Officer, Province Wellesley, to the Labour Commission on 18th December, 1890’, in ‘Report of the Commissioners Appointed to Enquire into the State of Labour in the Straits Settlements and the Protected Native States, 1891’, C.O. 275/41.

77 See The Perak Government Gazette 1899, vol. 2, no. 6, pp. 190–1.

78 See ‘Evidence given by Kho Bu Ann to the Labour Commission on 27th November, 1890’, in ‘Report of the Commissioners Appointed to Enquire into the State of Labour in the Straits Settlements and the Protected Native States, 1891’, C.O. 275/41.

79 See ‘The Administration Report of the State of Selangor for the year 1890’, in British Parliamentary Papers: Accounts and Papers, C.6576, pp. 3940.

80 According to a report, the British Colonial officer took the initiative to organize a meeting in September 1888 to discuss the question of absconding. Those invited were the Chinese Kapitan Yeh Chih-ying, prominent Chinese leaders Chao I-yung, Yeap Kwan Seng and Yeh Li-wang; the leader of Teochew group, K'o Ch'un-po; the leaders of Hokkien groups, Chao Shih-chu, Ch'iu Lien-ch'i, Ch'en Hsiang-p'u and Ch'en Chin-Ian; the leader of Ta P'u Hakka group, Chang Kao-ying and the leader of Chia Ying Hakka group, Li Ch'i-jen. The meeting resolved to raise money among Chinese merchants, and a fund-raising committee was formed. See Pau, Lat, 10/10/1888, p. 1.

81 See ‘The Administration Report of the State of Selangor for the year 1890’, in British Parliamentary Papers: Accounts and Papers, C.6576, p. 40.

82 Ibid.

83 In giving evidence to the Labour Commission on 10 January 1891, the Chinese Kapitan of Selangor, Yap Kwan Seng (Yip Kim Sheng), stated that no Chinese coolie could leave the state unless provided with a pass issued by him. See ‘Report of the Commissioners Appointed to Enquire into the State of Labour in the Straits Settlements and the Protected Native States, 1891’, in C.O. 275/41.

84 See ‘The Administration Report of the State of Selangor for the Year 1890’, in British Parliamentary Papers: Accounts and Papers, C.6576, p. 40.

85 Ibid.

86 See Butcher, John, The British in Malaya 1880–1941: The Social History of a European Community in Colonial Southeast Asia (Kuala Lumpur, 1979), pp. 67–8.

87 See Ken, Wong Lin, The Malayan Tin Industry to 1914, p. 73.

88 According to Song Ong Siang, Tan Che Sang was a Cantonese born in Canton in 1763. But Professor Hsu Yun-ts'iao claims that Tan Che Sang's real name was Tan Sang (Ch'en Sung), the word ‘Che’ was the transliteration of a Southern Fukien term ‘Shu’ (uncle) which was a title of respect given to an older person, and Tan Sang was a Southern Fukienese. Strong evidence given by Professor Hsu to his claim is that Tan Che Sang was buried in the Heng Shan Cemetery which was controlled by the Chang Chou and Chiuan Chou people of southern Fukien. I think Professor Hsu's claim can be supported further by the fact that ‘Tan’ is the romanization of the surname ‘Ch'en’ of Southern Fukienese or Teochews. If Tan Che Sang was a Cantonese, his surname should normally be romanized as ‘Chan’ rather than ‘Tan’. See Yun-ts'iao, Hsu, Ma-lai-ya ts'ung-t'an (Anecdotal History of Malaya) (Singapore, 1961) pp. 27–8; Siang, Song Ong, Chinese in Singapore, p. 13.

89 Song Ong Siang, ibid.

90 see Buckely, C. B., An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore (Kuala Lumpur, 1965, reprint), p. 216; Yun-ts'iao, Hsu, Ma-lai-ya ts'ung-t'an, p. 28.

91 It was reported in Singapore Chronicle that Che Sang was asked to settle a dispute involving three Chinese men who struck down a poor woman into the gutter. With the permission of the government, he sentenced the three men to receive a dozen lashes each, inflicted on them publicly with a ratan. See Singapore Chronicle, 3/3/1831.

92 Siang, Song Ong, Chinese in Singapore, pp. 1920; ‘She Yu-chin hsien-sheng’ (Mr Seah Eu Chin), in Hsing-nung, P'an (ed.), Ma-lai-ya Ch'ao-ch'iao t'ung-chien (the Teochews in Malaya) (Singapore, 1950), pp. 7880.

93 Song Ong Siang, ibid.; P'an Hsing-nung (ed.), ibid.

94 See ‘letter from Yang Chan-wen to the Directors of the Singapore Teo Chew Poit Ip Huay Kuan and the Ngee Ann Kongsi dated 28th October 1965’, in Hsing-nung, P'an (ed.), Souvenir Magazine of 40th Anniversary of the Singapore Teo Chew (Poit Ip) Huay Kuan and the Commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Founding of Singapore (Singapore, 1969), p. 164.

95 In May 1873, leaders of the three powerful dialect groups in Singapore petitioned the government to suppress the kidnapping of new immigrants in Singapore. Tan Kim Cheng and Cheang Hong Lim represented the Hokkien group, Seah Eu Chin and Tan Seng Poh represented the Teochew community, and Hoo Ah Kay (listed as Hoo Ah Kee) represented the Cantonese group. See ‘Petition from Chinese merchants relative to the Treatment of Chinese Immigrants dated 30th May, 1873’, in Straits Settlements Legislative Council Proceedings 1873, appendix no. 33.

96 Siang, Song Ong, Chinese in Singapore, pp. 1920; Fatt, Yong Ching, ‘Chinese Leadership in Nineteenth Century Singapore’, in Journal of the Island Society (Singapore), vol. 1 (1967), pp. 46.

97 See The Singapore Free Press, 1/3/1849.

98 See Blythe, Wilfred, The Impact of Chinese Secret Societies in Malaya: A Historical Study (London, 1969), p. 156.

99 See Straits Settlements Law Reports, vol. 4 (1897), p. 28.

100 Hsiu-ts'ai was the title given to those who had passed the first stage of the imperial examination in Ch'ing China.

101 See Kuo-hsiang, K'uang, ‘Chang Pi-shih ch'i-jen’ (The man Chang Pi-shih), in Kuo-hsiang, K'uang, Pin-ch'eng san-chi (Anecdotal History of Penang) (Hong Kong, 1958), pp. 98–9

102 See ‘Chang Pi-shih’, in Boorman, H. L. and Howard, R. C. (eds), Biographical Dictionary of Republican China (New York, 1967), p. 90.

103 See Reid, Anthony, The Contest for North Sumatra: Acheh, the Netherlands and Britain 18581898 (Kuala Lumpur, 1969), pp. 194, 260.

104 See Anonymous, ‘Chang Pi-shih’, in K'e Chia: P'i-li K'e-hsu kung-hui k'ai-mu chi-nien t'e-k'an (Hakka: Souvenir Magazine of the Opening Celebration of the Hakka Association of Perak) (Penang, 1951), p. 506.

105 See Fu-ch'eng, Hsueh, Ch'u-shih kung-tu (Correspondence of My Diplomatic Mission), vol. 2, pp. 25a–25b.

106 Ibid.

107 See Sing po, 1/11/1895, p. 8.

108 See ‘Memorial of Governor-General Wang Wen-shao and others to the Court dated 26th day of 2nd moon of 29th year of Kwang-hsu (24th March, 1903)’, in Yu-chi hui-tsun (Collected Records of Imperial Decrees and memorials) (Taipei, 1967, reprint) vol. 51, pp. 1487–8.

109 Directors and Sub-Directors of the Court of Sacrificial Worship were generally designated as ‘Ching-t'ang’. See Brunnert, H. S. and Hagelstrom, V. V., Present Day Political Organization of China (Taipei, reprint).

110 See Ta-ch'ing te-tsung ching-huang-ti shih-lu (Veritable Records of the Emperor Kuang-hsu of the Great Ch'ing Empire) (Ch'ang ch'un, 1935), vol. 516, p. 5b.

111 Ibid., vol. 535, p. 6b; Cheng Kuan-ying, Chang, Pi-shih hsien-sheng sheng-p'ing shih-lueh (A Brief Biography of Mr Chang Pi-shih), p. 14.

112 See Godley, Michael R., ‘Chang Pi-shih and Nanyang Chinese Involvement in South China's Railroads 1896–1911’, in Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, vol. 4, no. 1 (03 1973), pp. 1630; see also Godley, Michael R., The Mandarin-Capitalists from Nanyang: Overseas Chinese Enterprise in the Modernization of China 1893–1911 (Cambridge U.P., Cambridge, 1981), pp. 149–72.

113 See Middlebrook, S. M., Yap Ah Loy, published as an independent copy of the Journal of the Malayan Branch of Royal Asiatic Society, vol. 24, pt 2 (07 1951), p. 12; Loy, Yap Ah, ‘Yeh Ah-lai cha-chi’ (Miscellaneous Records of Yap Ah Loy by his Subordinates, trans, by Hsu Yun-ts'iao), in Nanyang Hsueh-pao (Journal of the South Seas Society) (Singapore, 06 1957), vol. 13, pt 1, p. 70.

114 See Chih-yuan, Wang, Yeh Teh Lai Chuan (A Biography of Yap Ah Loy) (Kuala Lumpur, 1958), pp. 1920.

115 Loy, Yap Ah (trans. by Hsu Yun-ts'iao, see n. 113), pp. 22–5; Middlebrook, , pp. 1415.

116 Kapitan Sheng Ming-li was deified after his death to become Hsien shih-yeh who has been popularly worshipped by the Chinese in Kuala Lumpur and Seremban areas. For a biography of Kapitan Sheng, see Ching-wen, Chang, ‘Hsien shih-yeh chia-pi-tan Sheng Ming-li kung shih-lueh’ (A Brief History of Hsien shih-yeh Kapitan Sheng Ming-li), in Ku-t'ing, Yang (ed.), Chi-lung-po Hsien-ssu shih-yeh kung ch'ang-miao shih-lueh (A Concise History of the Founding of the Hsien-ssu shih-yeh Temple of Kuala Lumpur) (Kuala Lumpur, 1959), n.p.

117 See Chih-yuan, Wang, Yeh Teh Lai Chuan, pp. 30–1.

118 Ibid., pp. 44–7.

119 See Middlebrook, , Yap Ah Loy, pp. 2636; Loy, Yap Ah (trans. by Hsu Yun-ts'iao), p. 71. Official recognition of Yap Ah Loy as Kapitan China by the Sultan of Selangor took place in 1873. See a short biographical note of Loy, Yap Ah in ‘Annual Report on the State of Selangor for the Year 1885’, in Straits Settlement Legislative Council Proceedings 1886, appendix no. 22.

120 Yap Ah Loy (The Chinese Kapitan) was reported to be the main producer of tin in Selangor in 1879. See ‘Report on the Revenue and Expenditure of the State of Selangor for the Year 1879 by the British Resident dated 12th May, 1880’, in Straits Settlements Legislative Council Proceedings 1880, appendix no. 15.

121 For a good discussion on political and economic setting of this civil war, see Kim, Khoo Kay, The Western Malay States 1850–1873: The Effects of Commercial Development on Malay Politics (Kuala Lumpur, 1975), pp. 53143

122 Chih-yuan, Wang, Yeh Teh Lai Chuan, pp. 69171; Middlebrook, , Yap Ah Loy, pp. 3696; ‘Hsueh-lan-ngo chia-pi-tan Yeh kung teh-lai fen-chan shih-lueh’ (A Short History of Battles of Yeh Teh-lai, the Kapitan of Kuala Lumpur), in Yang K'u-ting (ed.), (see n. 116), n.p.

123 Chih-yuan, Wang, Yeh Teh Lai Chuan, p. 189.

124 For a short biography of Shin, Yau Tat, see ‘Yao kung teh-sheng’ (Mr Yau Tat Shin), in P'i-li chia-ying hui-kuan ch'i-shih chou-nien chi-nien, hsin-sha lo-ch'eng k'ai-mu t'e-k'an (Souvenir Magazine of 70th Anniversary Celebration of the Chia Ying Association of Perak and the Opening of its New Club House) (Ipoh, 1974), pp. 512–14.

125 In 1898 Yau appeared in the government records as tin miner and farmer (opium and liquor?). See ‘High Commissioner's Office Files (Federated Malay States)’, 454/1898.

126 See Siang, Song Ong, Chinese in Singapore, pp. 33, 46, 52, 102, 168.

127 See Turnbull, C. M., The Straits Settlements 1826–67 (London, 1972), pp. 31–3.

128 This can be found in ‘The Kwang Chao (Kwong Siew) Records’ (unpublished, kept at the Kwang Chao Association (Kwong Siew Hui Kun), Kuala Lumpur). Many of these partnerships led to continuous disputes. Part of this ‘The Kwang Chao Records’ was published in Chi-lung-po Kwang Chao hui-kuan ch'i-shih chou-nien chi-nien t'e-k'an (Souvenir Magazine of the 70th Anniversary Celebration of the Kwong Siew Association of Kuala Lumpur) (Kuala Lumpur, 1957), pp. 42–4.

129 This process of transformation can still be found in country towns in Malaysia and other Chinese communities in Southeast Asia today.

130 See Little, R., ‘On the Habitual Use of Opium in Singapore’, in Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia, vol. 2 (1848), p. 20; Chin, Siah U, ‘General Sketch’ (seen. 9), p. 295; in September 1846, The Singapore Free Press reported that a large number of coolies from gambier and pepper plantations used to visit the town for the purpose of indulging in gambling, and spent their surplus cash in the different shops in town. But their visits ceased probably because a better opportunity for amusement had been provided in the jungle. See The Singapore Free Press, 17/9/1846.

131 See ‘Evidence given by W. E. Hooper, Registrar of Hackney Carriage, Jinrickishas, Singapore on 10th August, 1907’, in Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States Opium Commission 1908, Proceedings, vol. 2 (Singapore, 1908), pp. 28–9.

132 It appears that at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, many Ying Chun immigrants (southern Hokkien dialect speakers) became transient peddlers between trading centres and distant villages; they also started small shops ‘kedai’ in the Malay kampongs for trading. See Soon, Tan Tek, ‘Chinese Local Trade’, in The Straits Chinese Magazine, vol. 6, no. 23 (09 1902), p. 90.

133 See Vaughan, J. D., The Manners and Customs of the Chinese of the Straits Settlements, P. 15.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Modern Asian Studies
  • ISSN: 0026-749X
  • EISSN: 1469-8099
  • URL: /core/journals/modern-asian-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×