Ever since the immigration of the Chinese into Southeast Asia in the nineteenth century, they had started grouping themselves into different types of traditional organizations. In even a small country like Singapore, a respectable number of organizations were set up. There were clans, dialect associations, hui kuans, guilds, bangs and secret societies. These traditional organizations served a variety of functions and often overlapped one another in their roles. There are several reasons pertaining to their setup namely which were for self help, protection, leadership, identity and also continuation of their culture and tradition. This list is not exclusive and the interesting point is that not all the organizations that were formed perpetuate till today and if they do, their roles have changed over time. Throughout the history of Singapore, some were disbanded, some forgotten1, but there are some that merged to form bigger ones. One would ask, when were the more crucial times in history that when these organizations were affected to change? It is difficult to just isolate clans and associations for studies because all the other organizations are interlinked and intertwined by the social network, guanxi. Each rise and fall of the various traditional organizations would directly or indirectly affect one another. One would also have to look at the brief history of the Chinese society in Singapore and the subsequent events that unfold. Hence, the first part of the essay will briefly look into the types of organizations in past Singapore and what they have evolved into since then. The second part of the essay will examine some of the important periods in history that help paved the way for clans or associations to what they are today. The significant time frames are 1) Influx of the types of Chinese into Singapore during the British Colonization period 2) Support for China and... [continues]
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