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This paper focuses on the intellectual contributions of an outstanding Chinese Singaporean community leader, Lim Boon Keng. Lim looked to Confucianism as a source of national pride for the diasporic Chinese community living under British colonial rule in Singapore. Directly contradicting Western assumptions about the rigidity and authoritarianism of Confucianism, Lim offered an interpretation which highlighted its dynamic, progressive political potential. In particular, he developed the case for Confucianism as a source of democratic political impetus, and thus as a challenge to the autocratic, elitist nature of the British system of colonial rule. In Singapore the period from 1890 to 1920 was one of marked demographic shifts, social change, rapid economic development and intellectual ferment. At that time Singapore was a British colony, ruled as part of the British Empire according to policies laid down by the Colonial Office in London. From the time of its acquisition as a colony in 1819, the British had adopted a policy of welcoming unrestricted immigration from a wide variety of sources. The result was a multi-cultural population, numerically dominated by Chinese, with Indians and Malays making up the two other main ethnic groups. By 1891 the population numbered about 180,000, with Chinese representing approximately two-thirds of the total.