In the evening of 30 June 1998, I arrived in Singapore alone with a luggage of personal belongings and some cash equivalent to S$600.

In a few days’ time, I would start a job paying S$4,000 a month. I was grateful to find employment in the midst of the Asian Financial Crisis.

The next morning I went to POSB to open a savings account. After I deposited all my S$600, I was told that I should go to a foreign bank that I had an account in my hometown in order to send money home every month to my mother and to pay my outstanding college study loan.

Stepping into the overcrowded branch of the foreign bank, I rested on a comfortable sofa, perspiring under the hot weather.

Before long, I was requested by a staff member to sit elsewhere – the area I was seating was reserved for customers …