I spent the last two weekends in Bangkok, Thailand. The Thais are observing their new year or Songkran, which they celebrate - among other things - by splashing water on those around them.
When I left, many loved ones questioned, "You sure it's safe to go?"
When I returned, many friends expressed, "Oh, you know, I was really concerned about your safety."
I asked both groups of individuals what made them say such things. They shared it was because they had read various negative articles on Thailand in the local newspapers.
They had read about flash floods; they had also read about protests on the streets; and they had even been informed about an impending coup!
The more I hear these things, the more strongly I feel Singapore's newspapers go out of their way to make Singapore's neighbours look negative. In fact, I had the opposite experience of what people had read in our newspapers.
I was not caught in any flash floods but I did come back wet to my hotel daily - as a result of others consistently throwing water at me!
I was neither involved in street protests nor saw any such thing occur. And the current political leadership is the same one as the one in place over two weeks ago!
Yes, there was a visible police and army presence in the city to ensure that party-goers looking to have a good time did so in a safe and secure environment, much like the presence one sees in Singapore's train stations or city centre.
Perhaps, this is the Singapore media's unique way of writing in the national interest and making Singapore look like the best place to live in Southeast Asia.
Of course, I would not disagree that Singapore is a good place to live in Southeast Asia.
But best? Debatable.
What shocks me even more is the number of people who treat these stories in Singapore's media as the ultimate truth, and hardly take any steps to verify the information they receive.
I am not, however, suggesting that the Singapore media is guilty of spreading lies about what happens beyond the Singapore shores. There may be some element of truth in these stories but, more often than not, it does not convey the full picture of what is happening overseas.
This is partly due to the limited space one finds in any media to share information. And in such a limited space one finds "bad news is often good news for the media".
The onus is then on the reader to receive this information with a pinch of salt. People, especially those who see themselves as part of a knowledge-based economy, should really verify what they read, see or hear.