From: Singapore: A Country Study
Published by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress as part of the Country Studies/Area Handbook Series sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Army between 1986 and 1998.
"At the turn of the century, social advancement lagged far behind economic development in Singapore. While the wealthy enjoyed their social clubs, sports facilities, mansions, and suburban estates, the lower classes endured a grim existence marked by poverty, overcrowding, malnutrition, and disease.
Malaria, cholera, and opium addiction were chiefly responsible for Singapore's mortality rate, which in 1896 was higher than that of Hong Kong, Ceylon, or India.
A 1907 government commission to investigate the opium problem found that the majority of opium deaths were among the poor, who were reduced to smoking the dregs of used opium.
Campaigns by missionaries and European-educated Chinese to ban opium use were successfully opposed by tax farmers and businessmen. By 1900 the opium tax provided one-half of the revenue of the colonial government, and both Asian and European businessmen resisted its replacement with an income tax.
As an alternative, the government in 1910 took over all manufacture and sale of opium, setting up a factory at Pasir Panjang. Opium sales continued to constitute half of the government's revenue, but the most dangerous use of the drug had been curtailed."