The Samsui Women of Singapore

samsui women
Samsui women Statue

Samsui women played a major role helping in construction work carried out in Singapore. This is why samsui women plays a major role in in Singapore’s unique history.

Well, as a Sri Lankan living in Singapore, I am curious to know the unique history of Singapore and its culture. I explore and experience the country day by day. Sadly, until recent I didn’t know about Samsui women and their contribution to the Singapore’s construction sector.

Recently when I spent a day in Chinatown, I came across the samsui woman statue in front of the Chinatown Heritage Centre. This statue of hardworking woman labour aroused my curiosity to search more about them and their contribution to the country. Finally, I gathered some details and it is time to pen down as a tribute to the Samsui women who shed their energy mostly for the construction sector.

Samsui Women
Statue of Samsui Woman in Chinatown Singapore

Who are Samsui Women?

As per Wikipedia Samsui women are Chinese immigrants who came to both Singapore and Malaya in 1920s and 1940s in search of jobs. They worked as labourers in construction industry and other heavy industries contributing to the development of the country. They came from Sanshui (Samsui) in Guangdon province, Shunde and Dongguan of China. As per historical records, 90% of Samsui women were Cantonese and others were Hakka.

Contribution of Samsui women to Singapore’s development

samsui women

Samsui women worked as general labour in construction projects and their day started early in the morning. They wore a red cloth hat while they are at work. This was a reason to call them as Hong Tou Jin which is Red Banana.

Contribution of Samsui women to the development of Singapore is remarkable. They worked in construction projects in labour work such as digging the earth, disposing debris or any other labour activities that requires hardworking.

Although life of Samsui women sounds like full of work, they were also admired in many national level programs and celebrations. Samsui women were invited to the first MRT ride on 7th November 1987 from the Toa Payoh MRT which was the first MRT station of Singapore.

30 COMMENTS

  1. I always love to learn about history. This is so cool, all those women working those laborious jobs and having statues built in their honor.

  2. This is interesting. The workers are women? I have always thought that women in Singapore are strong, but I never knew that they did construction work! By the way, do they still do?

  3. Great post on Samsui Women! I am going to find where this statues is in China town. The red color cloth on the head make the Samsui women a unique icon in Singapore.

  4. I’ve never heard of Samsui Women before, but it was really interesting to get to know about them. It seems they had an enormous impact on Singapore’s deveoplment. 🙂

  5. The history of women there is so rich. I am glad you are sharing that knowledge with us. And working construction is no small thing. That’s hard work!

  6. Wow, this is interesting piece of Statue. Honestly I didn’t see it last time I was there. Am going back in a few weeks and I will not miss it this time. Thx!

  7. Wow, such a nice story. Honestly, this is my first time to read that story about Samsui women I awe these industrious women and this story is the proof that even in a hundred year ago women proof that they can do what men can do.

  8. I just love interesting unique facts like this!! Now, when we visit Singapore and come across this statue, I can share the knowledge with my kids and think of you!!! Thanks for this interesting read!

  9. Our early Ah Ma’s (or grandmothers) are very industrious for a living and to achieve their children’s’ dream. They are a huge foundation of Singapore and the whole Asia.

  10. Thank you for provided history about the women of Singapore. I’ve never heard the term “red banana” before, but I’m happy to hear that the term is positive. These were very hard working women, thank you for sharing their story.

  11. Its a really interesting article. Its the first time I am reading the story about Samsui women. I can share the knowledge with my friends and family.

  12. Your awesome article reminded me of the story tellers in the 60’s. http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_795_2005-01-18.html

    I visited in Singapore Chinatown Heritage Centre four years ago. I don’t remember seeing the Samsui statue. I guess it must be erected recently.

    It has been at the back of my mind to visit Shuntak ( aka Shunde ) for a long time. Just unsure where to find my mother’s ancestral village. Hope you can share the info and travel if coming across any tips.

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