Chinese secret society gangsters in the early 1900s. There was no apparent incongruity between the sartorial attire of these men and their unsavoury lifestyle. Observe the presence of a little boy, a pet dog, cups of alcohol and the forced body postures.
Source: Irene Lim. Secret Societies in Singapore: featuring the William Stirling Collection
The genteel attire worn by these gangsters underline the wide range of activities of the secret societies, ranging from the legitimate and legal to the unlawful and distinctly illegal. In 1889, it was reckoned that there were some 68,000 members in the ten most infamous secret societies, with the largest and more feared being the 19,000 in the Hokkien Ghee Hin. This gang controlled the China Steet area. Next was the Ghee Hok in the River Valley Road area. Other societies maintained a tight grip on daily life at Beach Road, Victoria Street, Upper Chinchew Street, South Bridge Road and Havelock Road.