“Welcome to Singapore!” said Chow Yun Fat in the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
Indeed, for most of the 19th century, Singapore was an archetypal pirate port and frontier town. The British provided only the minimum government they could get away with.
So who did Singapore’s people turn to when they needed leadership, security, arbitration? Who decided who got to be in charge and how?
In this episode of “The History of Singapore”, PJ Thum discusses how the 99% of Singapore worked out their own systems of government, giving birth to Singapore’s strong brand of locally-oriented, indigenous politics – and how the British responded to it.