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By meWATCH Published: 27 Sep 2019 Audio: English
The year was 1825 and convict labourers streamed into Singapore from Bengal, Madras and Bombay presidencies of British India. Singapore began to receive Indian convicts from British India to serve out their sentences, as well as assist with the labour shortage and development requirements. The colonial government’s classification of these convicts were very liberal, with some of the 6 classes of convicts allowed to live at liberty. The idea to use convict labourers for public purposes was conceived by George Drumgold Coleman. Singapore soon became the major convict centre in the straits settlements, known by some as “the Sydney Convict settlements of India”. The use of convict labourers changed the face of the city to have beautiful public buildings and infrastructure to match the island’s economic reputation. They were responsible for paving some of the major roads and landmark buildings that still existed today. This stopped in 1873, and the convicts were either sent to other British colonies or given freedom and allowed to settle down here in Singapore.
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