The office of a Protector of Chinese was created following the enactment of the Chinese Immigration and Crimping Ordinances of 1877. The Chinese Protectorate was a government department that administered all matters relating to the Chinese community in the Straits Settlements. Its main concerns were the regulation of Chinese immigration, specifically the elimination of abuses in the coolie trade and the trafficking of women and girls for prostitution, as well as the suppression of Chinese secret societies. The protectorate also sought to establish and develop a pool of qualified Chinese-speaking European officers who were crucial to the effective management of affairs pertaining to the Chinese community.
William A. Pickering was appointed as the first Protector of Chinese in Singapore on 3 May 1877. Pickering, who was conversant in several Chinese dialects and had mastered the Chinese written language, previously served as Chinese interpreter to the Straits Settlements government, a post he had held since 1871. The office of the Chinese Protectorate in Singapore opened in a shophouse along North Canal Road on 1 June 1877.
1. Straits Settlements. Government Gazette. (1877, March 30). Chinese Immigrants Ordinance (Ord. 2 of 1877, p. 228); Crimping Ordinance (Ord. 3 of 1877, p. 230). [Microfilm: NL 1006]. Singapore: [s. n.].
2. Ng, S. Y. (1961, March). The Chinese protectorate in Singapore, 1877–1900. Journal of Southeast Asian History, 2(1), 82. Retrieved from JSTOR.
3. Ng, 1961, pp. 81–82.
4. Straits Settlements. Government Gazette. (1877, May 4). Government Notification No. 98. [Microfilm: NL 1006]. Singapore: [s. n.].
5. Jackson, R. N. (1965). Pickering, protector of Chinese (p. 16). Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press. Call no.: RCLOS 959.503 PIC.J; Ng, 1961, p. 80.
6. Lee, E. (1991). The British as rulers governing multiracial Singapore 1867–1914 (p. 71). Singapore: Singapore University Press. Call no.: RSING 959.57022 LEE.
The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.