As the UK agonises over Brexit and in particular immigration, it is interesting to the look back on the impact in the nineteenth century as waves of immigrants also arrived on the shores of this city to build it's foundations despite huge odds.

Most owned almost nothing on arrival and then toiled for a lifetime in abject poverty eking out barely enough to keep emaciated body and soul together.

Those with some skills worked as tailors or carpenters, those without as hawkers or coolies, shifting people, goods or even human excrement, the accumulation of large families crowded into stifling and cramped shophouses. The Chinatown Heritage Centre provides an only too real impression of life in those days in a shophouse salvaged before the bulldozers arrived 30 years ago.

But my point is through toil and hope and a fierce commitment to education and a strong vision of its future, the country has even survived an exodus from the security within the Malay Federation to forge it's own future in today's globalised world, so maybe there is a lesson for us as we contemplate striking out on our own.

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