- Three Domestic Workers, Two Internment Camps and a War: A Journey from Singapore to British India
- Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society
- Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society
- Volume 93, Part 1, No. 318, June 2020
- pp. 23-42
- View Citation
- Additional Information
On 11 December 1942, reacting to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, British authorities arrested three Chinese women doing domestic work in the Japanese Consulate in Singapore. Along with many Japanese and other members of the Japanese empire living in Malaya and Singapore, they were taken to British India and interned for most of the Asia-Pacific War. This article explores their attempts to appeal against their wrongful internment, providing a unique and personal account of individuals fighting against wartime bureaucracy. It also taps into larger issues related to colonialism, migration, identity, war, and civilian internment, and the trying conditions of wartime incarceration. The debate over how to deal with the women speaks to tensions between contemporary notions of citizenship and the fluid identities of those who migrated from China to Southeast Asia in search of economic improvement.