The Significance of Mass Migration, and How to Better Talk about it, pp. 5 of 10

The second way to stress on the nature of Singapore as a melting pot for all these various different peoples would be to focus on the change in migrant profiles over time. For instance, not all Chinese migrants were the same over the 123 years before the outbreak of war in the Pacific. During the early period, the migrants were overwhelmingly male labourers, who fuelled the growing demand for dock and plantation hands. The same trend was true of the Indian migrants. However, as the 19th century drew to a close, there were greater and greater numbers of women and children moving to Singapore, reflecting the increasingly settled nature of the colony. It was further underpinned by the increasingly safe nature of the Straits Settlements, as government and community interventions led to a decrease in the worst of the secret society riots and other violent crimes. The changing profile of migrants therefore reflects a changing Singapore and a changing world.[x]

Above all, also reflects the successful settlement of migrants on the island of Singapore, and the re-creation of their societies in Singapore, hence pushing for the meeting of these different cultures.  While the textbook gave a snapshot of the people who moved to Singapore through the 1891 census, what would be more powerful is to demonstrate the diversity of migrants over time. The table below, taken from a study of Chinese migration by Lee Poh Ping demonstrates one such example.[xi] Other writers such as Saw Swee Hock had also did extensive population studies of Singapore, demonstrating the changes in relation to time.[xii]


Chinese Male-to-Female Ratio















An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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