Location: Urbane Redevelopment Authority
Artist: Liu Jilin
The term Samsui women (红头巾; 紅頭巾; hóng tóu jīn, mandarin for 'red headscarf') broadly refers to a group of Chinese female immigrants who came to Malaya and Singapore between the 1920s and 1940s in search of construction and industrial jobs. These women hailed mostly from the Sanshui district of modern-day Guangdong, a province in southern China. Other areas of origin include Shunde and Dongguan, Fujian and Chao’an, although labourers from these regions were relatively few in number. Their hard work contributed to the development of the Straits Settlements both as colonies and later as the new nations of Singapore and Malaysia. Samsui women did manual labour similar to coolies but were considered to be more independent.
“When we first came here, we thought about making some money and going home. The, after some time here, we wanted to work a little longer and a little longer after that. We forgot about going home all together.” – Loh Ah Kwai, Samsui Woman.
The three women are identified by their characteristic hats and are shown carrying the heavy loads on their backs. The Samsui women, from the Sansui Province of China, travelled to Singapore around the 1920’s and 1940’s in search for jobs to support their families back home. The women played a significant role when it came to the development of Singapore, working in mostly industrial and construction work. We believe this also holds a much deeper meaning - proving that women even in today’s society can look to these Samsui women and see that they too, can work in male dominate careers. You can find this statue by Liu Jilin outside the Urbane Redevelopment Authority.