Possibly Hokkien for “newcomer’. Refers to Southern Chinese migrants, all of them men, who came to Malaya in the 1800s as indentured labourers. They came from the regions of Fujian and Kwantung to escape famine, political instability or persecution. Upon arrival in Malaya, they spent one year as indentured labourers, chained to the snakeheads, before they earned their freedom. Until the 1930s, when the migration of Chinese women into Southeast Asia was finally permitted, sinkhehs and their descendants married local women. Many also married into the Malay communities and became saudara baru. Modern politics group them together with the Peranakan Chinese – those who came as courtiers and Ming envoys during the 1500s. Today, the distinction amongst the Hokkiens, the Cantonese and the Hakkas is subtle. When they first arrived two centuries ago, the sinkhehs of Hakka and Cantonese origins were considered separate from the Peranakans. See ‘saudara baru’.

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