Tag Archives: final exhibit

Wall Text – Rubber Tree – Final

7The Rubber industry in Singapore can be traced all the way back to 1876 when the first group of rubber seeds stepped ashore from Kew in poor condition. It was not until September 1877 when the rubber plants managed to be planted successfully in Singapore. These rubber seeds was planted in the Singapore Botanic Garden. In this exhibition, we explore the journey and the significance it has on our economy and the region.
Contrary to the story that these seeds were smuggled out from Brazil to the rest of the world, an official statement in 1913 reported that these exports were made in goodwill and co-operation of the Brazilian government. The early years of the rubber trees in Singapore was not welcoming by the people and the authority . It was only when Mr. Ridley took over as Director of the Botanic Gardens that the rubber trees began to see the light again.
At first, the rubber trees in the Gardens was used for experimentation and research to discover the rubber tree’s fullest potential as a commercial plantation crop. The results and techniques found in 1904 are still relevant and currently still being employed today. Keeping in mind that over in Malaya, there was also a parallel timeline where rubber seeds were being planted along the Straits Settlements more specifically in Kuala Kangsar. All the various botanic gardens in Malaya were then under the direction and leadership of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
By the late 19th century, the demand for rubber increased because tyres and motoring companies were establishing out in London and the United States. Automobile companies like Ford and Goodyear began manufacturing more automobiles which make it affordable to more people. Rubber was now needed in greater and ever increasing demand. Entrepreneurs and investors started coming in, in a form of large rubber plantings in the Malay Peninsula and Singapore. From large corporations to small local farmers, practicing the growing of the Rubber tree, rubber was suddenly in abundance and prices fell from over-supply.
8 9
Despite being one of the earliest and important game players in the rubber industry of the region, Singapore’s limited land area sees Singapore serves as a rubber milling centre to serve the plantations in Malaya and Indonesia. Furthermore, Singapore’s strategic location and port facilities makes it an essential part of the economic chain in the importing and exporting of rubber to different parts of the world.20As a result, Chinese rubber exporters blossomed and became rubber tycoons overnight. Right after the Japanese Occupation in 1946, these tycoons were on the forefront of resolving post-war industry issues. The government saw the importance of the rubber industry’s continued contribution to Singapore’s economy and the nation’s infrastructure. This lead to the conversion of the Rubber Association of Singapore (RAS) into a government Statutory Body by an Act of Parliament.



  • Singapore Rubber Tree – an Economic Heritage by Peter W.C. Tan
  • The Rubber Industry, A Study in Competition & Monopoly by P. T. Bauer
  • Rubber In Malay 1876 – 1922, The Genesis of The Industry by John Drabble


  • The Singapore Botanic Gardens and Rubber in Malaya by P.R. Wycherley