Friday, 13 November 2015

The adventures of an Intrepid Immortal Explorer in Ayutthuya, Thailand!

Bangkok: an old fashioned 'authentic' city?

For someone living in Singapore's pristine and orderly (and recently haze infested!) environment, the chaos, color and confusion of Bangkok is a welcome respite. Walking on broken pavements, exchanging smiles with strangers, crossing roads without waiting for the 'Green Man' and at great peril to one's life just feels wonderful!

Then there is the Thai rail system. Not the subway or overhead BTS Skytrains, but good old fashioned 1970s style trains going 'clickety-clack' as they take you - mostly at excruciatingly slow speeds - from one city to another.

Recently I boarded one such train at Bangkok's main station to take me to Ayutthuya.

No bullet trains in Thailand - the State Railways of Thailand operates comfortable, old fashioned trains of the sort novelists love to write about!

The main hall at Bangkok's Hua Lamphong Railway Station, first opened in 1916. The station has a separate counter for foreigners where staff speak English. The station is accessible by Bangkok's subway system. 
Regal Ayutthaya

Ayutthuya is a historic Siamese (Thai) city. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Ayutthuya (1351-1767). Despite almost constant warring with Burma (now known as Myanmar), the Ayutthuya Kingdom was a regional economic powerhouse. The city was home to a multitude of foreign traders, some from as far as Europe.

As the train pulled into Ayutthuya, I only had a vague idea of my action plan. I knew I must see the magnificent temples and ruins sprinkled across the city but I had no idea how to get to them. As I was alone I decided would 'improvise' as I went along: no need for any detailed Grand Master Plan!

A view of Ayutthaya Railway Station. It was raining when my train arrived and the middle platforms had no canopies protecting passengers from the rain or sun. 
The adventure takes shape

At the Ayutthuya train station, a suburban size station with perhaps four lines running through, I paused to gather my thoughts. Luckily, there was a tourist guide map posted at the station. After taking a look at the map, I realized most of the sites were concentrated in one area of the city across the river. The map was not drawn to scale so I couldn't gauge how far the ruins were from the railway station. Nonetheless, I decided I had time and could walk the distance.

A self-guided walking tour meant I must diplomatically extricate myself from the clutches of the umpteen 'Tuk Tuk' drivers offering their services as expert guides. Their sales pitch included statements intended to create fear such as, "The temples are many kilometers away from here" and "the river is very wide, cannot cross!"

Being the Intrepid Immortal Explorer I ignored the scare tactics and decided to try my luck anyway.

I ventured out of the station – there is only one direction to exit the station. Upon leaving the station, I walked towards the area where Thai food stalls - of the usual sort found all across Thailand - were located and found myself at the mouth of a small street.

With the railway station behind me there was only one way to go: forward!

A few hundred meters and several small hotels later I came across a sign for a boat crossing across the river.

The jetty for the boat across the river. 
Across the river and into Ayutthaya's deserted streets

After paying my five Baht - about USD 0.15 - I boarded a small boat at a wooden jetty to cross the river. Accompanying me on the boat were a few other travelers along with some locals going about their daily business. Based on my cursory reading of the city map at the train station (I was distracted by the tuk tuk drivers harassing me) after crossing the river I must continue to head 'forward' until 'a visible sign' indicating otherwise.

So, once on the other bank of the river, I headed 'forward' hoping for a sign it was the right direction.

As the glaring Thai sun burnt a hole in the top of my head, I started doubting my initial bravado thinking, "What an idiot?! Wouldn't it have been easier (and wiser) to have hired a tuk tuk driver, see the sights and not walk around like a crazy 'farangi' in a foreign land?!" Another part of me said, "Relax. The only way to see a country is on foot. I have time. Walking is the best way to experience a foreign land. If I get lost I can always pay an extortionate fee to the next tuk tuk driver and get myself back to the Ayuttuya Railway station. Besides, no one ever got good photographs sitting in the back of a tuk tuk!"

In an age before Google Maps led pedestrians to destinations, there were pagodas! The tall structures act as landmarks for fearless travelers.

Pagodas from heaven

Then it happened, as if I had stolen a glance at heaven I saw the pinnacle of a stupa! After spotting the pagoda, all doubts quickly receded and the Intrepid Immortal Explorer in me was revived!

Based on my precise calculations, the stupa which was hidden behind buildings, was located up ahead (forward, forward, it's always forward!) and slightly to the left. So I walked in a slightly forward leftish direction towards the pagoda.

Success was not long in coming.

Behold Ayutthaya's glory?

This is it? No, it couldn't be. Yes, it's ornate and historical … but, it's one temple, slightly small and certainly not as majestic as I expected in the grand, wealthy, regal capital city of Ayutthaya!

Two views of the first historical structure I came across. It was outside of the main excavation site. 
I soon realized this temple was an appetizer. It is a secondary site and not a part of Ayutthaya's major excavations. Despite the disappointment I took as many photographs as possible. After all, if I didn't find the city's major sites I should at the very least have something to show for my trip?!

Hope keeps humanity alive. After tasting minor success, major success must be around the corner! So onwards I went. In the only direction I know: forward.

Those who don't believe in an Omniscient Power should enlist as soldiers to fight in the latest global war. (There are no atheists in trenches.) If the thought of death in uniform doesn't quite take your fancy, then the next best thing is a walk around the deserted streets of Ayutthuya with neither an online nor a paper map. Either experience is enough to make a person believer!

Then providence smiled for me once more.

I saw another, this time more imposing, pagoda like structure in the distance! Again, my choice was clear: forward, forward towards the pagoda.

Behold Ayutthaya's glory part II!

As I got closer to the site I noticed a few visitors milling around the area. There were ruins spread out over a large area. The main structure was undergoing restoration. I was encouraged by the sight of a ticket office collecting an entrance fee from all visitors. The ticketing booth was a sign I was getting closer to the main event.

I paid my fee, went inside and explored. The overcast lighting was not supportive for photography but I went crazy anyway. This might be the best set of ruins I come across today. So I explored every ruin, pagoda, broken Buddha sculpture and anything else I could find at the site.

At the time I was unaware this site was Wat Ratchaburana, one of Ayutthaya's main Buddhist temples. After I climbed atop the main structure I observed multiple pagoda and stupa like structures to my left. My 'go it alone and leave the tuk tuk behind' decision was being vindicated with each passing minute!

Several views of a major excavation in Ayutthaya from the heyday of the city as capital of a flourishing Buddhist Kingdom. It is alleged the heads of many Buddha statues were decapitated by Burmese invaders when they ransacked the city in the eighteenth century.
After completing my methodical review of Wat Ratchaburana, I scurried across the road to the area of the multiple pagodas. It was an enclosed location and I couldn't find the entrance. There weren't many people around. 

Success comes to those who sweat (and walk the lonely road)!

After walking a little farther the whole world suddenly seemed to open. There were tourist buses, traders manning little stalls and tourists everywhere.

This has to be the place. The average tourist is not bussed to any old historical attraction – only significant ones. Tourists are on a busy schedule, taking 'selfies' at multiple locations requires using time efficiently!

I bought my entrance ticket and proceeded inside.

The temples were amazing. Surely, Ayutthaya's temples will give Angkor Wat a run for its money. (I recently learned Angkor Wat once was part of the Siamese Empire and, in case Cambodians forget the fact, there exists a scale model of Angkor's temple complex inside the Bangkok palace.)

Inside the Ayutthaya Historical Park: scene of the majority of remains associated with the Kingdom of Ayutthaya.
A short while later, I found myself staring at the famous 'Buddha Head in Tree Roots' and several other 'vintage' Ayutthaya structures. It is easy to understand why the ruins enclosed inside the Ayutthaya Historical Park were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.

The Buddha Head in Tree Roots, a landmark Ayutthaya attraction.
By the time I started my walk back to the railway station I was a content traveler.

To experience a foreign land travel like a peasant not a prince

At the railway station I bought my ticket and waited for the train. Only this time I decided to travel in a non-air conditioned, third class carriage without a reserved seat.  After my success in navigating Ayutthaya, traveling 'like a local' seemed the most fitting way to cap my day.

I was not mistaken.

Once the train pulled into Ayutthaya Station I scrambled aboard the Third Class carriage. It was not easy finding a seat but I squeezed onto one across from a Thai gentleman who epitomized an ageing rock star of yesteryear. He had the tattoos and pony tail to prove it. On the other side of the aisle was a mother with her young five-six year old daughter.

The rest of the carriage was crammed with all variety of goods and people. One woman seemed to be travelling to Bangkok with enough items to fill up an entire shop. (I suspect she was traveling to the big city to do exactly that, i.e. set up shop.) Occasionally, a man or woman would walk through the carriage offering food for sale. The carriage was a veritable Thai village on wheels!

Over the course of the ninety minute journey I got a few nice smiles from the little girl across the aisle – enough to liven up an otherwise lethargic journey. Though I didn't have the nerve to ask the rock star for his autograph!

A happy ending!

Despite the poor light conditions for photography, my Ayutthaya experience was thoroughly enjoyable. A return visit is definitely on the cards. Although on my next visit I may hire a bicycle to help me move around. The roads are not busy and the city is compact enough to conveniently cycle between the main sights.

For visitors to Bangkok, Ayutthaya is an easy and convenient day trip out of the city's urban sprawl. Taken holistically, Ayutthaya is a worthwhile escape especially as it gives a glimpse into 'non-Bangkok' Thailand. Bangkok is another country altogether ….
Imran is a Singapore based Tour Guide with a special interest in arts and history. Imran has lived and worked in several countries in his career as an international banker. He enjoys traveling, especially by train, to feed his curiosity about the world and nurture his interest in photography. Imran can be contacted at Follow Imran on twitter at @grandmoofti and Instragram at imranahmedsg.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Europe can accept large numbers of immigrants – a lesson learnt in yesterday's Malaya!

Recently, television screens are filled with pictures of a stream of mostly Arab refugees wandering into Europe. Many Europeans are disturbed at the images of sheer desperation but are also worried about the future impact of accepting these refugees.

One may argue these refugees are simply 'collateral damage' from the various invasions and wars (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria) waged by Western powers in the name of freedom and democracy. One may also pontificate about the moral obligation Europe, particularly NATO member states, have towards refugees from war torn regions of the Middle East.

Note the countries accepting the largest refugee populations in the world, based on UN data, are not wealthy, e.g. Lebanon, Pakistan, Turkey.
Let us not do either and, instead, take a look at a few numbers.

According to the CIA, Iraq has an estimated population of 37 million people and Syria 17 million. Simple mathematics suggests that if Europe hypothetically accepts and relocates the entire living populations of both Syria and Iraq, i.e. 54 million souls, they will Europeans will still account for just about ten percent of Europe's current population of over 500 million people. In other words, 'existing' European residents will comprise 90 percent of the population even after such a large (and unrealistic) dislocation of populations.

Undoubtedly, there are issues of geographic concentrations, etc. but then these refugees are 'Yuppie Migrants.' They are better educated than the average economic migrant of the last few centuries.

Refugees march through Hungary in August 2015
Now take a look at some historic numbers from Southeast Asia.

Singapore and the broader Malaya region (today's Malaysia) was virtually exclusively inhabited by various Malay speaking peoples from the region in 1819. Then in 1819 the British East India Company established its presence and colonized the island for king and country. Subsequently, British colonial authorities opened up the floodgates to new arrivals (this is not the place to analyze the reasons for such a policy).

Immigration from China and India was so intense that Malays are a minority in Singapore. Malays now account for less than fifteen percent of Singapore's population. In Malaysia, non-Malays constitute approximately forty percent of the country's population. The demographics of Singapore and Malaya have changed indescribably since the advent of colonialism.

Here is an account of events from Singapore published in 1846. It reads much like events pertaining to the European Refugee Crisis of today.

Incessant Chinese migrant arrivals stretch colony's infrastructure

Singapore's authorities are overwhelmed by the daily arrival of thousands of economic migrants from China and India. The wave of immigrants, primarily from China's southern Fujian province, arrive at a make-shift jetty on Telok Ayer Street. Thence, the fortunate souls who survive the perilous weeks long sea journey immediately proceed to the nearby Thian Hock Keng Temple to give thanks to the Goddess of the Seas – Ma Zhu. Most Chinese immigrants believe their safe arrival is due in large part to Ma Zhu's helping hand.

While speaking to this correspondent about the difficulties of accommodating such a large number of immigrants, social worker John Doe said, "To add to our problems, a steady stream of migrants from the Tamil speaking Coromandel coast of India are also arriving in large numbers. Both groups are fleeing instability and poverty in their homelands and believe Singapore to be the new Promised Land."

Authorities are concerned at the impact the newcomers will have on the ethnic mix of the predominantly Malay-Muslim population of Singapore. Already, some Malays have expressed discomfort at the changing racial and ethnic mix on the island. The disgruntlement about the changing character of the island is compounded by the religious and cultural traditions of most new migrants. These Malays suggest the large influx of idol worshipping foreigners will create tensions among an otherwise harmonious complex of diverse Malay communities.

Authorities have established cells to register the migrants, though most simply make their way to the nearest Chinese clan association for assistance. The lucky ones knock on the doors of a distant relative or friend who is already residing in Singapore.

Medical practitioners are alarmed at the crowded conditions in streets surrounding South Bridge Road and are urging authorities to designate special buildings as refugee camps for the wary, hungry and often sick refugees.

Excerpt from "Incessant Chinese migrant arrivals stretch colony's infrastructure." The Straights Times, August 14, 1846.*

First port of call for many Chinese refugees arriving in Singapore was the Thian Hock Keng Temple, now a popular tourist attraction
Singapore not only survived the onslaught of migrants from foreign lands but perhaps the island thrived as a result of the new migrants!

Europe, too, has an opportunity to reinvent itself and emerge a stronger and more dynamic continent. European nations may either do this willingly by helping integrate the current wave of refugees or, alternately, these nations may swim against the tide of history by erecting physical and psychological barriers against the new entrants.

Let us see whether European values extend beyond the continent's own borders.

* Please note this article is a fictional account of events written by the blogger in 2015. It is not a genuine excerpt from any newspaper of other publication.


Imran is a business and management consultant. Through his work at Deodar Advisors and the Deodar Diagnostic, Imran improves profits of businesses operating in Singapore and the region. He can be reached at

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Singapore General Elections 2015: ten key takeaways

With the 2015 General Election results now confirmed, here are ten 'quick and dirty' takeaways.


1.   GE 2015 was a genuine general election. Every constituency was contested and every Singaporean cast a ballot. There were no walkovers.

2.   Singaporeans made politicians work hard to earn their votes. No vote was taken for granted. Even the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) made an effort.

3.   The Workers Party (WP) consolidated its role as the only credible opposition party in Singapore. The new talent brought in by the WP is ostensibly of well qualified and of high quality.

4.   A natural narrowing of the political arena is occurring with other opposition parties beginning to fade away thus, ultimately, leaving the field clear for the possible evolution of two party system.

5.   Singaporeans are developing a taste for accountability from its leaders. This may translate into unpredictability of voting patterns, something that should keep the PAP leadership on constant alert and sensitive to voter concerns.


1.   The PAP's margin of victory may influence its leadership to revert to the party's past leadership style, often perceived as arrogant and condescending.

2.   Singapore has no worthwhile opposition to speak of, at least not presently. If the WP can survive and 'professionalize and corporatize' itself over the next few general elections then it has a chance.

3.   All the other (not WP) opposition parties are perceived by the electorate as amateurish with no genuine leadership capability or platform. None was able to make a significant mark among voters in any constituency.

4.   Given the strength of the PAP's mandate, it may now attempt to 'strangle' and discredit other political parties through 'political-administrative' measures to 'cleanse' the political arena.

5.   Singaporeans must wait five more years if they want to make a change!

Imran is a business and management consultant. Through his work at Deodar Advisors and the Deodar Diagnostic, Imran improves profits of businesses operating in Singapore and the region. He can be reached at

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Hat Yai: Southern Thailand's frontier market town

Hat Yai is the capital of Thailand's Songkhla province. The city is perhaps best known for being the last major Thai settlement on the route to Malaysia's Georgetown / Penang. However, Hat Yai deserves to be much more than just a dot on a map or a passing sign on an express train journey from Bangkok to Malaysia.

The Hat Yai train station which connects the city with other parts of Thailand, including Bangkok as well as the Malaysian city of Butterworth
Hat Yai is a travel destination in its own right. If the number of Malaysian voices one hears around Hat Yai is any indication, Malaysians seem to agree.

The city is a combination of street markets and many cultural attractions. The reclining Buddha, the Guan Im Temple and the Four Faced Buddha are just a few of the monuments sprinkled around the city.

A view of the 'small' reclining Buddha
The Reclining Buddha Temple, said to be the second largest in Thailand

A lazy visitor relaxes at the steps of the Guan Im Temple, dutifully guarded by a golden royal dragon
Note there are no mosques in the above list. Odd, given Hat Yai's population is approximately 40 percent Muslim (it's hard to find accurate statistics online). Nonetheless, for Pakistani (or Pakistani origin!) visitors, there is a particular place of worship in Hat Yai not to be missed: the aptly named Masjid Pakistan or Pakistani Mosque!

The notable Masjid Pakistan or Pakistani Mosque located near Hat Yai's main train station
According to a local inside the mosque, the Masjid Pakistan was originally constructed about 50 years ago by three wealthy Pakistani merchant residents of Hat Yai. The philanthropists bought the land and funded the mosque's construction. Subsequently, in the early 1990s, a major expansion of the mosque was carried out, also spearheaded by the descendants of the Pakistani families but with the larger community's involvement.

Perhaps the greatest part of Hat Yai's charm lies in its small town feel coupled with a unique demographic mix. The city's population is less than 200,000 and includes sizeable Chinese and Muslim populations. In fact, Hat Yai is unique among Thai cities in that the combined Muslim and Chinese populations outnumber the 'traditional' Thai population.

Colorful examples of Peranakan architecture on a Hat Yai street
The mixed population results in a unique cuisine blending Malay dishes with the Thai penchant for chilli. As with the rest of Thailand, the food alone is enough to entice a traveller into Hat Yai.

A wall mural of a dragon painted on the walls of a Chinese temple
Since the start of a low level Islamist insurgency in 2001, many travellers have stayed away from Thailand's southern provinces for security reasons. Certainly, there have been scattered incidents of violence in the past. But Hat Yai is much too enchanting to avoid simply because of the activities of a few misguided souls!
Imran is a Singapore based Tour Guide with a special interest in arts and history. Imran has lived and worked in several countries in his career as an international banker. He enjoys traveling, especially by train, to feed his curiosity about the world and nurture his interest in photography. Imran can be contacted at

Monday, 17 August 2015

Singapore’s strategic challenge: SG50 to SG100

SG50 celebrations are quickly fading from Singapore's collective memory. The mutual self-congratulations and laudatory speeches are a thing of the past. Indeed, the political focus has shifted decisively towards the future with the official announcement of general elections expected imminently.

While Singapore's 'usual suspects' (e.g. immigration, public transport, cost of living, etc.) will command most attention during the forthcoming election campaign, it is Singapore's welfare over the next 50 years which demand more focus.

Arguably, the 50 years nation building period since 1965 may prove easier to navigate than the coming 50 years. Why? Several reasons come to mind.

Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) is the most obvious answer.

Singapore was fortunate to have firm, visionary leadership for several post-independence decades – a luxury denied most newly decolonized nations. Leadership best symbolized by LKY, but also includes other cabinet members (e.g. Goh Keng Swee, Rajaretnam et. al.) influential in their own right in shaping critical national policy frameworks.

Singapore circa 1965 was a typical third world city: undeveloped, unclean and riddled with crime. Arguably, things could not get much worse – only better. Certainly, development is easier when started from a low base - improvements are more visible and impactful.

Singapore took a free market, export led approach to generating economic growth in an era when many decolonized countries practiced and preached economic self-reliance. China was well and truly a People's Republic. Deng Xiao Ping had not yet worked his magic. India was a socialist country firmly implanted on the Soviet Union's side during the Cold War. Both China and India were off limits to international investors.

For ASEAN's Asian Tigers it was a sunny period as they received large doses of direct foreign investment from wealthy industrialized nations. There was far less competition for the international investment dollar. Fast forward to 2015 and things are different.

Singapore no longer starts from a low economic base.

On the contrary, Singapore is now one of the wealthiest nations in the world. It is hard, if not impossible, to generate and sustain (say) seven percent annual GDP growth with GDP per capita at USD 56,000 versus the 1965 per capita income of USD 516. Put simply, seven percent growth equals an annual increment of USD 36 in 1965 versus a yearly increase in income of almost USD 4,000 today (a monthly wage increase of approximately SGD 450).

Suddenly one pillar of Singapore's historical social contract looks a bit wobbly?

Like other Asian Tiger economies, a key factor in Singapore's early economic success was its low cost structure. Contemporary Singapore is no longer cost competitive for traditional businesses. Quite the reverse, recent surveys suggest Singapore is now a frightfully expensive place for international companies.

That's not all. Singapore's economic success brings with it other concerns.

A wealthy, literate population has different expectations from the country's political leadership.

Having achieved success, some Singaporeans believe they are entitled to a 'cradle to the grave' social welfare structure, often citing various European countries as appropriate models. The increased demands by citizens coupled with the power of the social media – think Arab Spring – has on occasion forced the government's hand towards populist polices.

Undoubtedly, Singapore can afford higher social expenditure but if the 'entitlement' trend continues then Singapore becomes closer to Europe in other ways too: high taxes, poor delivery of government services and a rigid labor market. Or Singapore heads towards unsustainable social expenditure (think Greece)?

Unfortunately (or fortunately) ASEAN is not the European Union and no one owes Singapore a living!

Politically, no single leader has the gravitas and respect accorded to LKY and his team.

The political contract was simpler in 1965: the government improves economic conditions and the citizenry don't ask too many difficult questions. In contrast, today's electorate is keen to question the leadership and flex its muscles at the ballot box. The upshot: despite the ruling People's Action Party's achievements for Singapore over the last 50 years, the city's long standing rulers cannot take the popular vote for granted.

Consequently, the government cannot enact unpopular policies with the same bluster as before. A literate, connected and wealthy (entitled?!) electorate is not as easy to boss around as the less well-off, kampong dwelling Singaporean of the past.  

History is for historians and the future is for the next generation (or, PAP, what have you done for me lately)?!

Despite all the challenges face in an uncertain world, there are many reasons to argue for Singapore's continued success in the next 50 years.

Governmence structures are solidly in place.

Public service and the bureaucracy continue to attract talent due to competitive compensation structures. In an often unstable region, Singapore's educated and English speaking society provides a haven of stability which allows the country to charge a 'Singapore Premium.'

Currency reserves – effectively savings squirreled away for a rainy day - are sizeable.

Between GIC and Temasek, Singapore's two sovereign wealth funds, GIC and Temasek, contain a massive USD 538 billion in assets. A sum equivalent to approx. USD 161,000 for each of Singapore's 3.4 million citizens! These savings provide a limited insurance policy for increased social welfare expenditures.

Singapore's new found wealth also makes the country ideally placed in a capitalist world.

The Republic is a global investor in its own right with large investments, particularly in developing ASEAN and China. In time these investments will generate significant positive income for the country.

But let's forget logic for a moment. After all, human society is a collection of human emotional endeavours?

Singapore's future is about survival for its resourceful and creative population. So if necessity is the mother of invention (or re-invention is this case) then the odds suggest that this small (non-secular!) island republic will succeed in for the next fifty years!

Imran is a business and management consultant. Through his work at Deodar Advisors and the Deodar Diagnostic, Imran improves profits of businesses operating in Singapore and the region. He can be reached at

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Are there any Malays in the audience?

Undoubtedly, many Singaporeans have seen the above message. It is doing the rounds on social media.

Am I alone in believing the message is offensive? And I am not even Malay.

"Do not provoke the Malays people."

I guess it is fine to provoke Malays in normal times but not these days. However, if one feels aggressive then go ahead and provoke the Chinese. It seems they will not react to unnecessary provocations!

"Be friendly and keep a distance from them [Malays]."

If one happens to be a Malay Singaporean (odds are about one in seven) planning to visit family in Malaysia to celebrate Hari Raya, cancel your visit immediately. There is no telling what these fanatics might do – best to just stay at home and spread rumours instead!

"Malays are string [stirring] members and are planning a rampage to slaughter the Chinese becos of the LowYat incident."

So if you happen to be a 'normal' [aka non-Malay] Singaporean don't visit JB or any other part of Malaysia during the coming long weekend. It's not violent crime that should worry us; it's the possibility of being slaughtered for being Chinese.

I am normally not one to give credence to conspiracy theories. However, even if the message is well intentioned - which I suspect is not the case - it is alarmist, racist and certainly falls prey to negative stereotyping. It may create ill-will among Singaporeans.

Perhaps I have yet to come to terms with being a minority living in a Chinese majority (multi-racial) Republic? Or perhaps I am simply overreacting to an otherwise innocent message?
Imran is a business and management consultant. Through his work at Deodar Advisors and the Deodar Diagnostic, Imran improves profits of businesses operating in Singapore and the region. He can be reached at