Many foreigners envy the living conditions in
Singapore as Singapore is safe. It is our police force
who maintained the law and order. But do you know in the
19th century, crimes such as murders and gang fights were
Crimes Were Common In The Early Days
Concern for the people in Singapore
Singapore used to be under the British
As a trading company,
their main concern was making profits. They had
done little to look after the immigrants.
They did not explain the laws that they had
passed to the immigrants, as a result, they
refused to obey the laws.
The early police force only
consisted of 8 policemen, a sergeant and a
It was too small to control a few
thousand people. Moreover, there was no full-time
police chief. The policemen did not have uniforms
and had to go on duty barefooted.
Their morale was low too. They did not have
any Chinese in the police force, so it was
difficult to communicate with the Chinese.
Immigrants also created some
problems. Malays traders and settlers from Melaka
quarrelled with those from Riau. Convicts created
troubles during religious processions. The
Chinese Secret Societies stirred up the most
problems. As the immigrants were lonely, the
secret societies promised them with friendships
Chinese Secret Societies
The members of the secret societies
forced the people doing businesses to pay
"protection money". All these
activities upset the trade and businesses in
|He was a capable and
hardworking person. He was on good terms with the
people so he could get first-hand knowledge of
what was happening in the city.
He got many
men to join the police force. He improved the pay
and working hours of the policemen. Retired
policemen also got pensions from the government.
He also setup night classes for the policemen.
The policemen were given proper training and
their morale was high. Under Thomas Dunman, the
crime rate decreased. He retired from the police
force in 1871.
The Chinese Protectorate was set up in 1877. This
Protectorate would handle the matters and problems that
were related to the Chinese. Below are some of the
Problems that the Protectorate had solved:
William Pickering, the head of the
Chinese Protectorate, wanted all the Chinese
societies to register with him.
In this way, he
got to know many leaders of the Chinese
Societies. He also encouraged the Chinese to seek
governments help instead of going to the
This weakened the influence of the secret
societies in the Chinese.
There was a great demand for
workers in Southeast Asia, America and Australia
after the mid 19th century.
the centre for coolie trade. Most of the coolies
were brought to Singapore before they were sent
to other places. The greedy coolie agents
kidnapped some of the coolies.
They were locked in crowded and dirty houses
in Singapore until the agents found employers for
them. William Pickering had all the coolie agents
to register with Protectorate.
Coolies' condition on
Coolie houses and coolie ships were often
inspected to ensure that they came here willingly
and they were treated fairly.
There was another group
of ill-treated immigrants in the 20th century.
Young girls who came from poor families were sold
to be domestic servants.
Many of them were treated badly. They received
no pay and were married off once they reached 18
The Chinese Protectorate often
visited these servants. Those who were very badly
treated were sent to the Home for Girls.
Investigation Department (CID)
|CID was setup by the
government in the early 20th century. The
detectives there worked to solve serious crimes.
avoid alerting the criminals, they were dressed
like normal people instead of uniforms.
Fingerprint system was also used to keep records
of the criminals.