Singapore Heritage Society and Select Books are pleased to invite you to a talk by John Hunt, on Christmas Island and Singapore, on Saturday, 27 July 2013, at 3:00pm.
Christmas Island and Singapore
John Hunt will talk about Christmas Island and its historical connection with Singapore, based on his book Suffering through Strength.
From 1899 to 1958, Christmas Island experienced labour exploitation, beri-beri epidemics, riots, a military mutiny and a bitterly-resented Japanese occupation. The Island was part of Straits Settlements and had a close connection with Singapore.
Singapore baba businessman Ong Sam Leong recruited hundreds of coolie labourers from Kwangtung Province to work under harsh conditions in the mine. British District Officers and Chinese Interpreters of the Straits Settlements Civil Service and Sikh policemen recruited from Singapore provided government services. Singapore babas formed the Island's Chinese managerial class and worked closely with the British phosphate company. The fall of Singapore to the Japanese in February 1942 led to a mutiny on Christmas Island by Indian troops of the Hong Kong and Singapore Artillery.
Suffering through Strength tells the story of Christmas Island from 1899 to 1948, with particular emphasis on the Chinese coolie experience. There are descriptions of the island in 1914, coolie life, the boom and bust years 1905-1918, the opening of South Point, and a dramatic chapter about the 1919 riot.
About John Hunt
John Hunt was Christmas Island’s first Resettlement Officer and Special Magistrate and Coroner from 1974 until 1978. He retired in 2008 and in September that year he and his family joined a charter flight to Christmas Island to mark 50 years of Australian sovereignty. The visit reawakened his interest in telling the truthful history of the Chinese coolie era.
Saturday, 27 July 2013
51 Armenian Street
Tel: (65) 6337 9319