Since you mentioned that you are an American expat working in Singapore, it won't be too far fetch to say that you are NOT the only "expat" working in the firm.
You are surrounded by colleagues who are NOT from Singapore - and many of them are from neighboring countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, China, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Those colleagues are yours might be ethnic Chinese, but if they came from Indonesia or Malaysia or the Philippines, they were taught in school systems that, as I outlined in my original message regarding countries with "brown skin folks", are in really terrible state.
Coupled with the religion problem - Malaysia and Indonesia being majority of the people are of the Islamic faith, their school curricula were/are routinely tempered with by the authority, for "religious reason" (to dumb down the students instead of making them brighter) so that when they grow up they wouldn't know how to question the authority.
I have companies set up in that region as well and I have co-workers from those places. I know the way they think (very narrow) and their timidity (never question authority) seriously damn down their real potential.
They are products of the environment they grew up in - like me, I grew up in China, but luckily for me, I escaped China when I was still in my teens and got the chance to learn from both the East and the West.