Robust like bamboo, able to thrive in rich soil and stay alive in poor soil, the early Chinese immigrant had to bend and blend in to survive.
Thousands of immigrants come to Singapore attracted by the economic activity and opportunities centred here. Many of the early migrants first set foot on the banks of Singapore River. Most of these people were Chinese, but there were also Indians and Malays.
The migrants and their descendants had to learn how to assimilate into their newly adopted land. They tried to preserve their identities while nurturing a relationship with the locals. Chinatown was largely occupied by Chinese.
At the Chinatown Heritage Centre, stories told are based on the real-life stories of former Chinatown residents.
Life was much poorer and desperate. They lived in dark and cramped living quarters, which were usually overcrowded and disease-stricken. Loneliness and the hard life of the immigrants caused many of them to turn to opium smoking, prostitution, gambling and secret societies.
For some, they never get to see their homeland again. There were death houses, a place where the terminally ill and dying waited out their last days among coffins and offerings to the dead.
This coming 43rd National Day of Singapore, appreciate the spirit of adventure and enterprise of the early Chinese migrants who made countless sacrifices, seized opportunities amidst adversity, showed great fortitude and industry to make good in Singapore.
For my foreign friends, you can learn how one ethnic community can become so successful internationally.
The Chinatown Heritage Centre is a joint project between the Singapore Tourism Board and the National Heritage Board.
Special thanks to :
Chinatown Heritage Centre
48 Pagoda Street
Chinatown Heritage Centre Website: chinatownheritage.com.sg