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Chapter Seven

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  • 1. Assignment 4: SEQ
    • DEADLINE: 1 st lesson of Wk 3
    How was life like for the people under Japanese rule? Support your answer with examples from Singapore during the period of 1942 – 1945. [10m]
  • 2. chapter seven How did the British govern Singapore before WWII?
  • 3. Lesson Objectives
    • Structure of the British Government in Singapore
    • Involvement of locals in the government
    • The British treatment of Asians
  • 4. During the 1800s…
    • Singapore was first controlled by a Board of Directors of the East India Company based in London, then by the British government in India which reported to London, and finally directly by the Colonial Office in London.
  • 5. Making Boundaries: 1824 Treaty
    • The rivalry between the British and the Dutch was finally resolved when the Anglo-Dutch Treaty was signed, causing the Malay Archipelago to be divided into two spheres of influence .
    • Malacca was Dutch territory while Bencoolen belonged to the British. Under one of the terms of the 1824 treaty, the British Bencoolen was exchanged for Dutch Malacca.
    • Hence, Singapore, Penang and Malacca fell within the British sphere of influence ( north of the line of division) after this treaty
  • 6. Formation of the Straits Settlements
    • In 1826, the British decided to bring Singapore, Penang and Malacca together as a single administrative unit so as to cut costs and improve efficiency.
    • Since the Settlements were located along the Straits of Malacca , they were grouped together into a single administrative unit known as the Straits Settlements.
    • The Straits Settlements continued until the Japanese occupied Malaya and Singapore in 1942.
  • 7. Changes in the administration of the Straits Settlements
    • In 1867, the Straits Settlements were transferred to the Colonial Office in London, making Singapore a Crown Colony. This meant that it was more than just a trading settlement – it now belonged to the Queen of England .
  • 8. Structure of British Govt (1867-1942) Colonial Office in London gave orders to the Governor of the Straits Settlement Governor of the Straits Settlements was the most important person in the colony who made the final decisions in the government. He had the right to veto (reject or stop any law from being passed). He was helped by 2 councils.
    • The Executive Council
    • advised the Governor and helped run the government
      • Consisted of high ranking British officials who had the power to decide how the SS should be run.
    • Carried out tasks like maintaining law and order, collecting taxes,
    • Had lower-ranking British officials to help carry out such activities and other day-to-day administrative work,
    • The Legislative Council
    • helped to make and pass laws
      • Selected by the Governor.
    • Consisted of official members and non-official members.
    • The official members were the government officials in the Executive Council.
    • The non-official members were the European and Asian merchants.
  • 9. Structure of British Govt (1867-1942)
    • Colonial Office in London gave orders to the Governor of the Straits Settlement
    • Governor of the Straits Settlements was the most important person in the colony who made the final decisions in the government. He had the right to veto (reject or stop any law from being passed). He was helped by 2 councils. 2 councils.
  • 10. The Executive Council
    • advised the Governor and helped run the government 
    • Consisted of high ranking British officials who had the power to decide how the Straits Settlements should be run.
    • Carried out tasks like maintaining law and order , collecting taxes
    • Had lower-ranking British officials to help carry out such activities and other day-to-day administrative work
    • advised the Governor and helped run the government
    • Consisted of high ranking British officials who had the power to decide how the SS should be run.
    • Carried out tasks like maintaining law and order, collecting taxes,
    • Had lower-ranking British officials to help carry out such activities and other day-to-day administrative work
  • 11. The Legislative Council
    • helped to make and pass laws
    • Selected by the Governor.
    • Consisted of official members and non-official members.
    • The official members were the government officials in the Executive Council .
    • The non-official members were the European and Asian merchants.
    • advised the Governor and helped run the government
    • Consisted of high ranking British officials who had the power to decide how the SS should be run.
    • Carried out tasks like maintaining law and order, collecting taxes,
    • Had lower-ranking British officials to help carry out such activities and other day-to-day administrative work
  • 12. do-whatever-you-want break . your one minute begins now.
  • 13. Involvement of locals in the government
  • 14. Attitude towards the British before WWII
      • Although Singapore’s population was mainly Asian, the British government ruled Singapore with little Asian participation .
      • Up to the 1940s, most people in Singapore were not interested in the government. Their main concern was to earn sufficient money in hope of returning to their homeland.
      • They were contented to leave the running of the country to the British.
  • 15. The Legislative Council
      • Initially, the official members outnumbered the non-official members.
      • The only people who were interested in what the government did were the European and Asian traders .
      • Some of them were nominated to be non-official members in the Legislative Council.
      • The non-official members wanted more say in the making of new laws. They appealed to the government to increase the number of non-official members. By 1924, the number of official members was the same as the non-official members.
  • 16. The Legislative Council
      • Although there were equal numbers of official and non-official members in the Legislative Council, the Governor was still very powerful since he could veto any decisions made in the Legislative Council.
      • Moreover, the people of Singapore did not elect whom they wanted to represent them in the Legislative Council.
  • 17. Examples of Asian Legislative Members
  • 18. #1 Eunos Abdullah
      • He asked the government to improve the living conditions of the Malays.
      • As a result, the government set aside a very large piece of land for a Malay settlement called Kampung Melayu. Here, the Malays could get low-cost housing and make a living by growing fruit and vegetables and rearing poultry.
      • A school for Malay boys was set up.
  • 19. #2 Dr Lim Boon Keng
      • The rents of houses were high and many among the poor could not afford them. Dr Lim asked the Legislative Council to pass a law to control rents . This prevented the landlords from raising rents unfairly.
      • Many Chinese immigrants were addicted to opium. Dr Lim proposed the banning of opium. However, some non-official members did no support Lim Boon Keng’s proposal as this would affect their income.
      • Opium was not banned until 1943.
  • 20. do-whatever-you-want break . your one minute begins now.
  • 21. British Rule in Singapore
  • 22. Problems faced in maintaining law and order
      • Chinese Secret Societies: Thousands of Chinese immigrants formed gangs and secret societies that robbed, killed and took part in unlawful activities. Some ran opium houses, brothels and gambling dens.
      • Abuse of Immigrants: Many coolies who had to work and pay off their debts were often ill-treated and abused by their employers . Chinese girls were sold to brothels.
      • Piracy: Numerous trading ships were attacked by pirates and the cargo in the ship stolen. As a result, many merchants kept away from Singapore. Fortunately, piracy became less of a threat to the trade of Singapore with government action and the arrival of the steamship .
  • 23. Actions taken by the British
      • Due to the small size and ineffectiveness of the police force, the army was often called in to maintain law and order.
      • The government attempted to improve the pay of the police force by increasing salaries of policemen and providing proper training .
  • 24. Actions taken by the British
      • It also employed capable officials who could converse in Malay and Chinese dialects. One such official was Thomas Duncan , the first Police Commissioner in Singapore.
      • The Detective Branch was established to handle the activities of the secret societies. Chinese detectives were recruited to help with investigations.
      • A Chinese Protectorate was set up with William Pickering as the first Protector of the Chinese to address the problems of immigrant abuse and prostitution.
  • 25. Problems faced in the provision of social services
      • Education: The British saw little need to provide education for the locals throughout the 19 th Century. They felt that education belonged to private organizations.
      • Health: The death rate in Singapore was extremely high, with the prevalence of fatal diseases. These diseases were caused by poverty, overcrowding, malnutrition and poor living conditions.
  • 26. Actions taken by the British
      • By the late 19 th Century, there was a demand for people trained in English to fill up posts in the government and in trading companies. To meet these demands, the government provided grants and set up English and Malay schools .
      • The Queen’s Scholarship was established for top secondary school students to further their studies in British universities . One such scholar was Dr Lim Boon Keng.
  • 27. Actions taken by the British
      • However, the British did not treat all schools equally. The British were often viewed as neglecting the Chinese schools as they believed that these schools bred anti-British sentiment among their students and they preferred to concentrate more on the English schools in order to maintain loyalty among the English-speaking Chinese.
  • 28. Actions taken by the British
      • The Public Health Department was set up.
      • A malaria committee to solve the mosquito infestation.
      • Attempts were also made to improve housing conditions in places like Chinatown.
      • A General Hospital, a leper camp and lunantic asylum were built to cater for mental illnesses.
  • 29. Actions taken by the British
      • Outpatient clinics were set up to serve the public.
      • In order to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, a Quarantine Law was passed. Passengers who were found to have infectious diseases were quarantined in a separate place.
      • By the 1940s, there was an improvement in public health and the spread of disease was greatly reduced.
  • 30. British Treatment of Asians
    • Chinese and European merchants
    • Because they helped trade in Singapore to grow, the government prioritised their views and attempted to meet their needs.
    •  
  • 31. British Treatment of Asians
    •   Asians in the British government .
    • There was an invisible colour bar that prevented well-qualified Asians from taking up senior or important posts in the civil service.
    • Officials in control of the government departments were all Europeans . Many believed that Europeans were superior to Asians.
    • This was why Asians who were well-qualified were barred from high posts and had to accept low salaries in spite of their competency
  • 32. British Treatment of Asians
    • Asians in the public
    • Discrimination continued outside the government. Europeans were given a separate section when travelling by railway. This meant that there was minimal contact between Asians and Europeans.
    • At shops and hotels, Europeans were favoured over Asians.
  • 33. British Treatment of Asians
    • Asians in the public
    • The unfair treatment led to a growing dislike for the British.
    • Although some Asian doctors were as qualified as British doctors, the government still refused to let them hold senior posts in hospitals.
    • Europeans were treated far better than Asians public places.
  • 34. Comments on British Rule
    • By 1942, the British still had not done enough for education nor provided sufficient medical facilities.
    • In the government, non-official members of the Legislative Council were still chosen by the Governor and not elected through a democratic process.
    • Discrimination against Asians both in and out of the government persisted.