2021 年 23 巻 p. 33-61
A distinctive feature of Singapore Chinese society from the 19th century to the first half of the 1900s was its division into five major Bang groups (social and economic communities based on their dialects and birthplaces) and loose segregation. The Chinese locals lived their social and economic lives according to the structure of the Bang groups to which they belonged, and most of them communicated only in their local dialects. The literature on the history of Singapore Chinese society has emphasized that the foundation of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce (SCCC) in 1906 significantly changed these social circumstances. The main function of the SCCC was to control the commercial and economic activities of Chinese locals; additionally, it had a social function, that is, to get several Bang groups to harmonize and cooperate and thus to gain leadership over the entire Singapore Chinese society. Several studies pointed out that the foundation of the SCCC, because of the establishment of the social function of this organization, created the new social structure of Singapore Chinese society that the SCCC can bridge the division between Bang groups and mobilize them for several social activities of the SCCC. The research questions are: How was the social function of SCCC constructed during its establishment in 1906, and what was the social and historical background to this? What were the differences and commonalities in the social circumstances of Singapore Chinese society between, before and after the foundation of the SCCC in 1906? To answer these questions, it is necessary to distinguish the main functions of the SCCC from its social function, and to only focus on the latter and analyze it in detail from the perspective of the social transformation of Singapore Chinese society during this period. This paper discusses the process of establishment of the SCCC and its social activities in its early years as an attempt to bridge the division between Bang groups. These discussions reveal the social and historical background that allowed the SCCC to perform social functions to gain leadership over the entire Singapore Chinese society. This sheds light on the process of the social transformation of the Singapore Chinese society and the importance of the SCCC in the latter half of the 1900s.