An institutional study of secret societies in Singapore : late 19th to mid-20th century
Mak, Yin Kar
Date of Issue2016
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
The account of Chinese secret societies in Singapore is a rich but shrouded history. Common portrayals of secret societies included images of violence as well as clandestine activities they were involved in. However, they took up a great deal of roles; law enforcers, protectors, leaders and businessmen – all in their very own way. It is thus intriguing as to how such ‘social groups’ could remain in function and significance for at least a century. Were they purely a social group? What made them come together? With these questions in mind, it is necessary to revisit this topic so that the history of secret societies can be further unraveled. This dissertation will argue that secret societies in Singapore must be regarded as a type of institution, and not just a social group. The institutional features of these societies as institutions in their own right include having a hierarchy, structure as well as social and cultural roles. It will also be demonstrated in this thesis that between the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, secret societies in Singapore experienced institutional changes. Such institutional changes include the fission and fusion of societies as well as a weakening in their cultural significance and social presence.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University