Sikh Guard on Singapore common early trade stamps

SINGAPORE EARLY TRADE: Newly released stamps by SingPost, with one depicting a Sikh police contingent (top right). Photo: SingPost

The ‘Sikh Guard’ is one of the stamps commemorating four common trades in the early days of Singapore launched by Singapore Post (SingPost) on April 18.

The other three depict the samsui women, the orang laut and the coolies.

The Sikh police contingent was made up of Sikhs from Punjab, India who were recruited to serve as policemen and security personnel in the Straits Settlement. The contingent was established in Singapore in 1881 and was highly regarded by the British police until its disbandment in 1945, according to a CNA report.

The stamps, which are available for sale at all post offices, come in four denominations – 1st Local, S$0.60, S$0.90 and S$1.30.

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The report added that the samsui women were a common sight at construction sites in Singapore from the mid-1930s with their trademark red headscarves. Most had come to Singapore from the Sanshui district of Guangdong province in southern China and are seen to be thrifty and resilient individuals who helped build Singapore’s infrastructure.

The Orang Laut are tribes of nomadic sea people who made a living as fishermen, boatmen and rowers. They were one of the earlier immigrants to Singapore during pre-colonial days.

The coolies were unskilled labourers who formed the backbone of Singapore’s earlier labour force during the colonial era. They were often employed in mines, ports, plantations, construction sites and as rickshaw pullers, and were mainly immigrants driven by poverty in China to seek a better life in Singapore.


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Sungai Besi gurdwara on Malaysian stamp cover (Asia Samachar, 19 Nov 2016)

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