The early history of Singapore saw significant contributions by coolies who left their homeland and headed south by sea. Most worked as physical labourers in the sawmills, shipyards and piers, and stayed in hostels known as coolie houses—a microcosm of the lives of early Chinese immigrants.
With the tides of time, coolie houses have faded into history. Surviving coolies are currently in their 80s or 90s. Stories of the coolies’ lives remain an important chapter in our country’s history. Last year, Chinese clan association Chin Kang Huay Kwan edited and published a book titled “Jiang He Qing Yuan” (Love of the rivers—the stories of the coolies from Jinjiang in the coolie houses). This is a collection and record of the stories of the early immigrants from Jinjiang. The speaker will share about the contribution of coolies to our nation.
Peng Lee Er, editor of “Jiang He Qing Yuan” (Love of the Rivers), a book on coolies in Singapore