In 2018, Singapore PR Avijit Das Patnaik for unknown reasons decided to post an online image of a Singapore flag being ripped to reveal an Indian flag. Large number of Singaporeans were incensed and accused him of disrespecting the national flag.
At the time, he was a vice-president working at DBS. With mounting public pressure, Avijit was finally asked to go by DBS over the incident. A number of police reports were also made against him since defacing the national flag is a criminal offence in Singapore.
Then few months later Jan last year, Avijit decided to give an interview to Channel NewsAsia so as to give his side of the story (‘Indian national says ripped flag image a piece of “art” and gives his side of story to CNA’).
In particular, CNA published the article under a sorrowful headline saying that his family life has been destroyed. “He’s now jobless and he, along with his wife and two young children, will now likely have to leave the country that’s been their home for the last ten years,” CNA reported.
As a PR, Avijit is allowed to buy and own a HDB resale flat. At the time of reporting, CNA said he was trying to sell his HDB executive flat in view of his circumstances.
In the interview, Avijit maintained that the online image he posted was a piece of “art” that was open to interpretation. He lamented, “It is an interpretation of art, and if we go like this, we are leaving no room for the interpretation of art. Anybody can get offended by anything.”
“On the day that I posted, I was sort of declaring that my body is Singaporean, only my heart remains Indian,” he explained. Over the years, even his friends from India have felt that he has completely changed and “become loyal to Singapore”, he said.
“That’s the interpretation that my friends have, and that day, I was actually saying yes, my body is now Singaporean,” he added.
He then blamed certain “junk sites” for stoking the fury of the netizens after he shared the image online. But he continued to tell CNA that he loves Singapore and its cultures, and that Singapore is the “best country in the world”.
“I can never imagine disrespecting any country or any religion. If you look in my house, you will see Chinese decorations. You will find many Muslim things. We visit mosques. We celebrate Chinese New Year every year, including doing ‘lo hei’ within the family. That’s how we’ve brought our kids up, that you must love every nationality, every race, every religion,” he said.
“We so deeply love the country. We always wanted to be here. We never intended anything like that.”
Avijit also told CNA he had a hard time getting a new job after leaving DBS. “Every discussion ends the moment they ask ‘What is your reason for separating from your last job?’,” he told CNA.
The police investigated his case and decided to only give him a warning.
Anyone thinking of moving to Singapore talk to me first!
Despite professing his “deep love” and “loyalty” to Singapore, and that his “body is now Singaporean”, Avijit posted a Facebook message on Tuesday (19 May) signalling a 180 degree about turn with regard to his “deep love” for Singapore.
Apparently, he now thinks Singapore is a racist and xenophobic country going by the hashtags he used: #Racist, #Xenophobic, #singapore.
He made the post in response to a TodayOnline news article reporting that police are now investigating foreigners who flouted safe distancing rules and congregated at Robertson Quay recently.
“Now even their headlines and investigation parameters are differentiating between locals and foreigners; and reduced to robots, everyone is forced to be fine with this #xenophobia,” Avijit wrote.
“If you are a foreigner there, and these days you will be made aware ten times a day that you are a foreigner; just stay more careful.. your entire job, livelihood, bank balance can get wiped off a day.”
He asked anyone who is thinking of moving to Singapore to talk to him first.
Former DBS vice-president spells ‘citing’ as ‘sighting’
And in a reply to a Facebook user, Avijit also said that the late founding PM Lee Kuan Yew would never allow racism to thrive in Singapore.
“He built that country from marshy land using expat labour only,” he said. “But now he is no more, so things have been purposely kept different to encourage local losers to troll foreigners sighting (sic) that as excuse for their own failures”
What he meant was that with the founding PM now gone, “things have been purposely kept different” presumably by the present Singapore government to encourage local losers (Singaporeans) to troll foreigners online, citing “that as excuse for their own failures”.
The sentence structure certainly looks confusing. Perhaps he is trying to say that Singaporeans who couldn’t get good jobs like a vice president position in a bank due to their own incompetence are now being allowed to troll foreign expats online so as to get them fired from their jobs?
On his Facebook page, he said that he has “retired from corporate slavery” and that he now runs his own travel consultancy and financial portfolio management firms.