Kolos, A
Kitaêznavčì doslìdžennâ 2021, 2:112-123
Section: China and Its Neighbors
Language: Ukrainian

Secret societies, or as they sometimes not quite correctly called “Triads”, closely related to the history of Singapore. At the beginning of its development in the 19th century, the main influx of workers to Singapore consisted of peasant emigrants from mainland China, which at that time was under the rule of the Qing Dynasty, which was constantly suffering from uprisings, which in each turn were not least connected to Secret Societies. The secret society called Heaven and Earth Society, which emerged in the territory of Fujian province, quickly began to spread not only on the territory of mainland China, but also around the world. In the later period of the Qing dynasty, organizations similar in their rituals to Heaven and Earth Society were widely represented throughout Southeast Asia, and Singapore was no exception. Peasants, artisans and even bandits united in blood alliances for the purpose of mutual economic assistance, self-defence, and also the fight against the government. Most of economic life in colonial Singapore were penetrated by secret societies of Chinese immigrants. The main activities of the Singapore Secret Societies included gambling, opium trafficking, immigrant employment, loan sharking and human trafficking. From the first appearance of Secret Societies in Singapore in the early 19th century to their total ban, they went from simple semi-religious alliances of mutual aid between peasants, to armed and well-organized communities, that at one point were able to revolt against local authorities. Fragmented by linguistic and ethnic differences, the Chinese diaspora was divided into many groups, which often got involved in conflicts with each other. In addition to conflicts on ethnic and economic grounds, interreligious conflicts often occurred. The secret societies of the Chinese emigrants, which at first were tolerated by the colonial government, were eventually banned, but continued to exist in the form of organized criminal groups.

Keywords: China, Heaven and Earth Society, Secret societies, Singapore, Triads

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