Chinese Protectorate was an administrative body
responsible for the well-being of ethnic
Chinese residents of the Straits Settlements during that territory's British colonial period. Protectorates were
established in each area of the Settlements, namely Singapore, Penang and Malacca.
was headed by a Protector
institution was established in 1877 to handle all matters related
to the Straits Settlements' Chinese residents. In particular, it
sought to mitigate the human rights violations of the coolie
trade, which had expanded to notorious levels
by the 1850s in the region.
The coolie trade
Perhaps the most significant goal of the British colonial
administration in the founding of the entity was to regulate and
humanize the coolie
trade and lessen the
misery of the coolies, who were subject to merciless exploitation.
First, coolie agents were required to register with Protectorate.
Policing by the Chinese Protectorate freed up the labour market and
firms (mainly British-run) seeking to hire Chinese workers no
longer had to go through coolie brokers and secret societies. As a
result of this improvement in conditions, the number of Chinese
arrivals increased dramatically from the 1880s onwards.
Goals of the Protectorate
Likewise, agents of the Chinese Protectorate often visited domestic
servants. Those found to be subjected to especially inhumane
conditions were sent to Singapore's Home
. The Protectorate sought to have all Chinese social
societies (including the kongsi
) - many of
which were secret societies
bodies of organized crime
with the government. The institution also encouraged the Chinese to
seek the government’s help instead of going to the secret
societies, thus weakening the latter's influence among the