Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/148084
Title: A RESEARCH PAPER ON THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF WORK DONE IN SINGAPORE FOR THE WELFARE OF MERCHANT SEAMEN
Authors: S. R. NATHAN
Issue Date: 1954
Citation: S. R. NATHAN (1954). A RESEARCH PAPER ON THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF WORK DONE IN SINGAPORE FOR THE WELFARE OF MERCHANT SEAMEN. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The term "merchant seaman", as understood in ordinary language, means an individual below the rank of officer employed in navigating ships of the Merchant Navy. However, the Straits Settlements Merchant Shipping Ordinance defines a seaman as "every person except masters, pilots and apprentices duly indentured and registered, employed or engaged in any capacity on board any ship". The same section of the Ordinance defines a ship as "every description of vessel used in navigation not propelled by oars". In view of the many legal provisions relating to the welfare of seamen, and of the inter-relationship between officers and men, other than masters, pilots and apprentices, in the sharing of welfare facilities available in the Oolony, it has been found advisable in this study to define "seaman" according to the Singapore Merchant Shipping Ordinance rather than using the common language connotation. The term "welfare" also necessitates clarification. Generally, it denotes well-being, and this is the meaning adopted in this study. Thus, the title of this Report could read: "The nature and extent of the work done in Singapore to foster the well-being of Merchant Seamen." Welfare work could then be discussed under three headings: (a) Preventive measures against the development of problems of social significance; (b) Remedial measures, introducing corrections of and relief from maladjustments; and (c) Rehabilitative measures applicable to those seamen who, for various reasons, cannot return to seafaring. A study of the problems of seamen welfare seems to show that the inter-relationship of certain welfare facilities available in the Colony has tended to create instances of overlap between the three main objectives. Therefore, an examination of any distinctive single aspect becomes difficult. Whenever possible the attention of the investigator has been directed to each of these aspects singly, but where such examination would have involved also that of inter-relationships, a study of the facts only has been made, leaving the reader to draw his own conclusions. Difficulties were also experienced in subdividing merchant seamen under various categories. The question would normally be one of separating locally domiciled from transient seamen. However, the problem confronting the investigator was not one of definitions, but of correct terminology so that a large proportion of the local seafaring community should not be left unstudied. Whether or not a person is a locally domiciled person is a question which can only be decided by a legal authority. Halisbury states: "There are only two types or kinds of domicile - a domicile of origin and a domicile of choice. A domicile of origin is received by operation of law at birth and a domicile of choice is "acquired later by the actual removal of an individual to another country accompanied by an intention of remaining there. A domicile of origin is retained until acquisition of a domicile of choice and cannot be divested by mere abandonment. A domicile of choice is however lost by abandonment." In a Malayan Divorce suit, a High Court Judge ruled that "residence for the purpose of employment is insufficient to ascertain domicil". However, the adoption of the term "locally domiciled" in the light of this legal opinion would tend to leave outside the scope of this study a large proportion, by far the majority, of Asian seamen who use Singapore as their place of employment. Very few of the Chinese, Pakistani and Indian seamen who hold registration papers issued in the Colony, would come within the legal definition of "locally domiciled seamen". Yet by the nature of their engagement and employment, they cannot be termed "transient". The Malay seamen include Indonesians who fall automatically under the same definition. Lastly, many Malay seamen have their homes in Malacca, while using Singapore as their labour market. Singapore addresses must be given at the Seamen's Registration Bureau in order to obtain employment. As explained, many seamen do not live in Singapore and it is therefore impossible to assess how many of the total number of seamen are actually domiciled on the island, and how many elsewhere in Malaya. Thus, many seamen who reside in Malaya and obtain employment in Singapore cannot, under the terms of the legal definition, be stated to be locally domiciled. They should, therefore, be considered under the same category as Asian, but not Malayan, seamen. The Attorney-General, Singapore, has suggested that a person cannot be legally domiciled in Singapore and the Federation at one and the same time. In view of the foregoing argument, it has been found advisable to divide merchant seamen in Singapore under two main categories: (I) All seamen of whatever nationality who – holding registration papers issued by the Seamen's Registration Bureau, Singapore, and habitually using Singapore Island as their base for purposes of employment, discharge and stay during their seafaring career - would be free to remain in the Colony of Singapore for any desired period without having their period of residence restricted under the Colony of Singapore Immigration Ordinance, 1953; (II) Transient seamen including - (a) seamen who are not holding registration papers issued for seamen at Singapore; (b) foreign seamen discharged locally and awaiting repatriation to their port of recruitment; (c) seamen left ashore for medical attention and awaiting to join ship or to be returned home; (d) distressed British seamen awaiting return to their home-port; (e) all other seamen stepping ashore whenever their ship stops at Singapore, or finding themselves in Singapore for other reasons. Under this last category are included certain groups of Chinese seamen, such as those employed in oil tankers, whose entry in Singapore is restricted under the terms of the Colony's Immigration Ordinance, 1955, "but who are allowed to land on a guarantee or bond subscribed by the employers. In this study the term "local seamen" means those seamen defined under category (I), and "transient" means those defined under category (II). Furthermore, the study is limited to facilities for seafarers within the meaning of the Merchant Shipping Ordinance of 1910. It does not cover the large number of persons sailing native vessels, such as junks, tongkangs, sampans and other small launches or boats.
URI: http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/148084
Appears in Collections:Bachelor's Theses (Restricted)

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