Besides coming to Singapore to work and make money,
the early settlers also contributed significantly to the
development of Singapore. Together, they helped to make
Singapore a flourishing trading centre.
Trade: They brought straits produce
like coffee, birds nests, spices and rice from the
East Indies to Singapore. Straits produce are the
products that are grown in the East Indies. These Straits
produce helped to widen the variety of goods being traded
between Singapore and other countries. Therefore, trade
Education: Some Malays who were
educated worked as journalists or teachers. Among them
was the famous Munshi Abdullah.
He could speak many languages and he also wrote books
about the early Singapore.
Malays were also expert boat-builders. Besides making
boats for traders, they also served as sailors and
officers on the ships. Others worked as policemen,
fishermen and watchmen.
Some Chinese businessmen acted as middlemen
between the British and the non-English speaking
They bought straits produce from the
Asians and sold them to the British. Most of the
middlemen were Peranakans.
Among them were Tan Kim Seng and Tan Tock
Tan Tock Seng
and planters: Some Chinese were
shopkeepers who sold daily needs like cloth,
medicine and provisions. Hoo Ah Kay (Whampoa) was
a shopkeeper who supplied ships with bread and
vegetables. He also owned a bakery and an
accessories shop. He owned a large gambier
plantation and he was the first businessman who
produced cash crops in large amount.
Hoo Ah Kay
|Other than the above
mentioned, Chinese also served as skilled
labourers like carpenters, barbers and
goldsmiths. Those who were unskilled worked as
hawkers, servants, coolies and rickshaw-pullers.
North Indians became milkmen who sold milk to
other Indians or Europeans. They reared cows,
goat and buffaloes to get their milk. Others were
shopkeepers who provided daily needs like food,
cloth and laundry services.
Banking: The Indian Muslims
served as moneychangers, some served as
Police: Sikhs were good policemen and
watchmen because of their strength and body size. The
thieves were scared of their Beards and turbans.
Europeans had the knowledge of trade and
commerce. They setup companies, which had
connections with Europe with their capital. They
sold the goods that were made in Europe and
shipped the goods that they bought from Asia back
to Europe. Among them were Alexander Guthrie and
Government: The European merchants
gave their opinions and pointed out the weaknesses of the
government here. Some of them volunteered to be unpaid
judges. They helped to maintain law and order in this