British Empire Article


William Pickering, Protector of the Chinese 


William Pickering was appointed in Singapore in 1877 to attempt to act as a liaison between the British government and the Chinese immigrant community. His good relationship with the Chinese meant that their problems were brought to the attention of the government and so avoiding the bloodbaths that occured when Chinese secret societies took the law into their own hands. Additionally, his job included protecting new coolies from becoming coolie trafficking victims, and freeing prostitutes from brothels. His actions inevitably angered the Chinese secret societies who saw his good intentions as interference in their business practices. In 1887, a purported triad member attempted to kill Pickering by flinging an axe at his head. The assassination attempt was unsuccessful but it forced him into early retirement in 1888.


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