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Explain how the choice of Singapore as the location of an East India Company trading outpost was more of circumstance than of design. Would you say that also about the subsequent growth of the outpost as one of the Straits Settlements?

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EC2202 Global Economic Dimensions of Singapore Essay Topic 1 Semester 2, 2003/2004 Ng Sui Lin Marie U010602J Art10602@nus.edu.sg DW9, Mon 12-1pm Explain how the choice of Singapore as the location of an East India Company trading outpost was more of circumstance than of design. Would you say that also about the subsequent growth of the outpost as one of the Straits Settlements? Introduction In the 21st century, Singapore is an economically stable and vibrant country, and it is one of a global player today. There is certainty a good number of factors behind the rapid growth of Singapore as it has emerged from a sleepy small fishing port to a global center in less than two centuries after founded as a trading outpost of the East India Company (EIC) in 1819. However, to understand the present, we must look at our past. We have to explore the reason of why Singapore was chosen by the East India Company as their trading outpost, and not other neighboring countries in the same region. In the first part of this paper, we are going to discuss if the choice of Singapore as an East India Company trading outpost was more of circumstance than of design. In the second half, we will continue our discussion if the subsequent growth of Singapore is also more of circumstance than of design. Why the formation of EIC? The East India Company, EIC was set up in 31 December 1600 by the British Merchants who received a royal charter from Queen Elizabeth I. Under this charter, EIC has granted a monopoly of trade between England and all places lying between the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn. As this is a royal charter, it forbids other parties other than EIC to enter into trade. The EIC set up 'factories' in India, headquartered in Calcutta. The reason being Calcutta is at the middle of a basin where the river enters the sea and accessible to both land and sea trade. ...read more.


The London authorities disowned all the activities by local British officials to try to counter the Dutch and secure some British footholds along the sea routes to China. This is so as London wanted to trade in peace with the Dutch. Circumstance than of design Stamford Raffles did eventually win the support of the Governor-General, Lord Hastings, for his objectives of keeping the sea-lanes to China and the Archipelago trade open. Hastings revived the old scheme of securing a free passage of the Straits of Malacca, while leaving implicitly to the Dutch the command of the Sunda Straits. Raffles was instructed to try again to conclude a treaty with Acheh (at the north of Sumatra), and to secure 'the establishment of a station beyond Malacca, such as may command the southern entrance of those Straits'. Riau, once again was the priority site, about which both Raffles and Hastings agreed. If Riau could not be secured, Raffles will try for another site within the Johore Empire. At Acheh, Raffles succeeded, but he was forestalled in Riau, and, finally, in January 1819, landed on Singapore after finding the Kerimun Islands, at the southern end of the Straits, and Siak, on the east coast of Sumatra, not suitable. Raffles traveled about a week from Britain's naval station at Penang to Singapore. As Raffles understood the Malay language, he had read in the Malay Annals and knew about the suitability of the water in Singapore. Therefore, the choice of Singapore as a British settlement was more the outcome of circumstance than design due to the numerous factors that lead to it. Growth of the outpost The subsequent growth of the settlement is more of design than of circumstance. One week after the founding of Singapore by Raffles, he signed a treaty on the 6 February 1819 with Tengku Long, a claimant in a succession dispute whom Raffles invited from Riau and recognize as Sultan Hussein of Johore. ...read more.


Many Chinese immigrants, called sinkheh, bonded themselves to work for a fixed period for their employers who had paid for their cost of passage to Singapore, a system of indentured labor that smacked of slavery but significantly helped to populate Singapore with hard-working and enterprising Chinese. Chinese traders found it profitable to move to Singapore from other places. Other than Chinese immigrants, Indians and Indonesians also migrated from their country to Singapore. The technological change in the 19th century such as the use of steamships and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 also contributed to Singapore's growth. With steamships, despite improvements in technology, it will still require frequent replenishing of coal and fresh water. Hence, the set up of a stretch of coal-depots along the Suez route was feasible. The new route made the Straits of Malacca even more important than the Sunda Straits. Singapore eventually became another coal-depot, thus acquiring a new strategic and economic significance in the trade between Europe and the Pacific. It was Singapore's good fortune to lie on the natural routes of both sailing and steam vessels. In 1870, Singapore was linked by telegraphic communication with the main industrial nations of the west. With that, goods can be bought and sold while in transit across the oceans, resulting in larger volume of business with the same capital. The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 returned Malacca returned to the British, which ran Penang, Malacca and Singapore as one administrative unit from Calcutta. The capital of the Straits Settlements transferred from Penang to Singapore in 1836, although still subject to the British government of India.1858, the EIC was abolished by an Act of the British Parliament. From 1867 onwards, an India Office ran India but the Straits Settlements was transferred to the Colonial Office in London. Clearly, all the above factors contributed more or less to the economic development of Singapore. Therefore, the subsequent growth of the outpost was more of design than of circumstance. ...read more.

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