A Slow Ride into the Past: The Chinese Trishaw Industry in Singapore, 1942-1983
The trishaw was introduced to Singapore after the surrender of the British in 1942. After the end of the war, the trishaw continued to be a popular mode of transport as it was cheap and the service was seen to be personalised. The trishaw industry was dominated by two Chinese minority dialect groups and their ubiquitous presence could be a threat to local government in the 1940s and 1950s. By the time Singapore achieved independence in 1965, however, the trishaw was regarded as backward and public perception of the trishaw riders also changed. As the island nation embarked on a programme of economic modernisation, the trishaws were increasingly squeezed out.
Through the use of travelogues, government records, trishaw associations’ records and oral history interviews, this book studies the personal experiences of those involved in the industry and the role local and national governments play in its rise and decline.