Where are you from?


What was it like growing up?

Growing up in Singapore was exciting – racial riots, communist insurgency, independence, British withdrawal, industrialization, urbanization, rapid modernization, rigorous school system, compulsory military service, law and order, growth of an international financial center, one of the busiest ports in the world.

What brought you to Cleveland?

Cleveland is a small city and its suburban school system was good for my daughter.

What were your first thoughts about coming to America? Did those change?

America is the center of the universe. It is heaven on earth. Everybody still wants to come to America, its dynamism, self-renewal, innovation and creativity through immigration keeps America young.

What challenges did you face as an immigrant transitioning here?

Recognition of foreign law degree. Outdated system that makes it difficult for foreign law degree holders to stay. My degree was from United Kingdom. Still it was difficult.

What is your occupation?

Legal Assistant/Community Outreach Representative with Margaret Wong Immigration Law firm

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?

Generally, my fellow Clevelanders are very warm and welcoming. As a former elected official, I have made a number of house visits. They were all good.

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

Cleveland hosts two Gurudwaras, Sikh places of worship, in its suburbs of Bedford and Richfield. Richfield is the oldest in Ohio and Bedford is the largest. Interestingly, I became a born-again Sikh in Cleveland.

What do you love about Cleveland?

What is there not to love about Cleveland – RNC Convention, access to great lakes, Rock & Roll Museum, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, one of the oldest Chinatown in America, Cleveland Cavs, Lebron James, no traffic, snow.

Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?

Cleveland needs immigrants, refugees and international students – our population has gone down from 1 million to less than 400k, also its aging; we need immigrants to reverse the increase in dependency ratio – more seniors depending on a declining workforce, we also need immigrants to attract high-tech industries, we need investors to create jobs for Americans, we need entrepreneurs to create jobs, we need international students to work in our STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics based industries. Look at the city’s regrowth in University Circle in a few years – expansion of CASE University with the recruitment of international students.

What suggestions do you have to make Cleveland a more welcoming community?

Cleveland needs more international events like Indian International Film Festival to attract the biggest movie industry in the world, its Bollywood not Hollywood, which produces 1,000 movies per year to do location shooting here/we need international flights connecting to Asia, if we don’t want to miss the fruits of globalization/we need to hold events to attract immigrants like Cleveland International Soccer Competition and promote foreign languages in our school systems like Punjabi, Hindi, Mandarin, Arabic, Russian, Korean, Japanese, Urdu, Farsi, Pashtoo, Tamil, Vietnamese, Thai.