Alan Soh

I am my own columnist, sharing my own thoughts and recent experiences!


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Military Training Safety

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I am saddened and shocked when news broke out on Wednesday night (23 Jan) that actor and fellow Singaporean, Aloysius Pang had died due to his crush injuries at an military exercise in New Zealand. It has sent shockwaves across the island state.

It is the 4th military-related training death occurred in 18 months since 2017.

The Chief of Defence Force Melvyn Ong Su Kiat , and Chief of Army Major-General (MG) Goh Si Hou held a press conference shedding light to media on its preliminary investigation findings on Thursday 24 Jan.

At the time of incident, what were the other 2 personnel doing?

If all three could see each other in the cabin, then the two men should reasonably be able to answer the 2 burning questions which everyone is now asking – who was the one who pressed the button, and why was it not clearly communicated in the cabin and getting the “all clear” before the button push was made, causing this unfortunate trauma to Aloysius?

I am not pushing blame on the other two but I feel strongly that they are the ones who probably are the best people to provide these answers.

A young life has been taken away mercilessly.

I firmly believe Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) had already gotten the answers from the two men. Perhaps SAF probably feel that it is not the right timing to reveal the real truth, or simply wants to craft their so-call PR speeches or worse, hoping that time will pass, Singaporeans will forget and it will be another day for everyone? I hope not, and I believe SAF would not do this.

SAF can provide PR-crafted answers but honestly speaking, Singaporeans expect transparent answers. This is what we all want to hear. Not beating around the bush and go back to square one.

As such, I sincerely hope that SAF can be truthful, transparent and honest in the upcoming Committee of Inquiry (COI) findings in Pang’s case. If personnel are proven negligent which directly or indirectly cause the death of Aloysius Pang, please mete out appropriate punishment penalty.

To be fair and objective, the fault does not lie with National Service (NS) policy. NS is here to say. Given our small country size, I support the notion that we must have a strong, effective military force to create deterrence for any group, or any country which harbour thoughts to attack us. NS is important because we Singaporeans are the only ones who can protect ourselves, our possessions and loved ones.

Rather, I believe the fault lies more of negligence, disregard of safety rules, peer pressure, lack of vigilance, not exercising check, care and concern for one another, miscommunication, poor attitude towards safety, and false assumptions.

Heavier punishments should be imposed. It seems to me that current levels of safety awareness among national servicemen may not be high enough. What is the point in calling for more doctrinal change if safety rules are not followed seriously by national servicemen at bottom levels? How would senior NS officers know? How many NSFs (Full-time National Servicemen) do not something properly but then tell their NS superiors that they claimed having followed all safety guidelines?

It can be just another day for you and me but not for his parents, family, girlfriend (actress Jayley Woo Jiaqi), relatives, friends and even unrelated strangers of Pang.

This case hits home harder, partly due to Aloysius’ celebrity status. It hits the heart of every Singaporean Son and even more so for parents who have growing-up boys.

Safety is paramount in SAF. There must be stronger safety culture. Encourage a whistleblower/feedback policy on anyone who is suspected flouting safety rules, regardless of NS ranks. Otherwise, Singapore could face a worrying scenario of having worried parents who hesitate to send their boys for National Service and subsequently, reservist duties (till the age of 40 years old for NS ranks below officers).

It is the people at the bottom who end up suffering the most for the lack of safety awareness, who among us cut corners on it in the first place.

Regrettably, the 28-year old boy was flown home to Singapore but in a lifeless state. He will be accorded a full honours military funeral at Mandai Cremation Centre today (Sunday 27 Jan).

I went to pay my respects last night (Sat 26 Jan).

Given his age, he can be my younger brother.

His young life is cut short abruptly. This shouldn’t have happened, at all.

No words now can relieve the pain of his parents and loved ones.

I hereby express my deepest condolences to his Noon Talk Media manager, Dasmond Koh, his parents, family members, relatives, colleagues and fans.

To our fallen brother, rest in peace Aloysius.

We will miss you deeply.

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Bye bye 2018, Hello 2019!

Best Nine 2018

I am happy that I was able to achieve what I had aimed for in 2017, in terms of academic course. Went for it, stuck to it with faith, self-discipline and a positive attitude. Fortunately, I was able to juggle it with other commitments. Graduated successfully in June. To me, it was a big step forward. Of course, there is still room for greater improvement in the coming year. Thank you, SkillsFuture SG.

Service awards gained taught me lessons of integrity, diligence and commitment to the responsibilities in which you are entrusted with. I am humbled by these recognitions.

Relationships are important. Nobody can be an isolated island. Having said that, I am also aware that people change over time. Feelings/personality change. People come and go. Some may drift away slowly from me. As much as I cherish relationships, I also have to let some folks go. Well, this is life. It may be painful. I have to respect their choices. I make it a point to catch up with random people over an occasional meal or tea. I am quite a sentimental person, so that explains why I like old vintage stuff.

Being a communications graduate, I also hope to do my part in increasing public awareness of social campaigns which I believe is important. As a fellow Singaporean. For example: the SOS campaign for Suicide Prevention Week 2018. Will continue to do so this year.

Show Luo Zhixiang make it to my Best Nine list in IG? Thanks to popular China chinese drama serial “The Story of Yanxi Palace”. Did anyone watch the drama serial last year? lol.

Moving forward, I do have new plans which I hope I can execute in 2019, in which I will share over the next few months. Quick updates will be up on my Instagram as well.

I hope to travel abit this year, for I believe travelling expands my horizons. And learning more things about others and myself.

I wish everyone of you a happy smooth 2019 – success and good health! Spend more time with your loved ones! 🙂


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Anyone still using voicemail?

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Yesterday, I received a voicemail on my smartphone.

It was a number I couldn’t recognise. I simply ignored it because I think it could be a call coming from a telemarketer.

It is year 2018. Who still uses voicemail these days, I wonder.

Is it redundant?

To communicate with someone, more than 90% of people of whom I know prefer SMS texting to voicemail. If you were to use voice mail, you have to go through a few steps in order to get that message. So why the inconvenience?

I believe texting is the most preferred mode of communication among people these days, other than telephone calls.

I think there are 5 reasons why most of us prefer texting over leaving a voice mail.

1. Time-consuming

We all want to get things fast.

Voice messages are not very long yet, however the bit of extra time and the steps required to retrieve that little piece of information from the voice mailbox could be a big turn-off.

Having said that, there is still a slight chance that there is an important message waiting for you yet you turn it off before the voice message starts playing.

 

2. Impersonal

Who are the people who would leave you voice mail?

There’s your mother – maybe your grandmother – who rambles on about how she just wanted to check and see how things are going on with you? But wait, mothers these days are quite IT-savvy. They know how to text us over Whatsapp!

Or it could be that financial services consultant whom you met at a roadshow recently, hoping to do a follow-up call with you, after completing a form.

When someone close to us wants to get in touch, they either message us on social media or text us. As such when you see a voicemail, you know that the caller who left you a voicemail, is someone whom you hardly knows, and this person is outside your social circles.

At that point, so why bother getting back to that caller?

3. Difficult to hear

How many times are we self-conscious about others overhearing our calls and voice messages, or we had to leave a room because it was too noisy?

Texting is so much easier. Furthermore, it is visual communication. People understand better when they could read words.

How many times do I have to replay a voice message to understand totally what was said, or to write down an important phone number? This is a big hassle, and text messaging provides a simple EASY solution.

This is difficult for people who are hearing-challenged like myself. 

4. Still makes you write a message

A message should be something which upon receiving it, you can instantly run along with, not something which you have to replay 3 or 4 times ,and still have to take notes.

Wheras on the other hand, if somebody texts me, I already gotten a written record of everything which I need to know, and the number to contact that person. In addition, I can also keep an unlimited number of texts saved, instead of dialling the voicemail number to clear my voice mailbox messages frequently.

5. No urgency to retrieve voicemail

Haha. If it is not urgent, I think most of us are just going to forget about it. Totally.

If someone can’t answer your call, there is a HIGH chance that they won’t be listening to your voice mail soon either.

Most text messages are read within 3 minutes, and hence the receipient can decide whether to pay attention to that message immediately or leave it for replying later.

In short, I won’t be sad if voicemail goes one day. It is not helpful in our daily lives nowadays. 

 

 


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Touch of the Hearts 2018

This is a project which I am curating/mentoring at Young Changemakers 2.0 (National Youth Council) which require public support.

It is my 3rd consecutive mentorship for this flagship project which is organised by undergraduates of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Residential Hall 4.

I have done theirs in 2016, and in 2017.


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Does the Good Old Days sound like a long time ago? How about reliving those moments with Touch Of The Hearts (TOTs) on the 11th and 12th of August at Bedok Town Square?

TOTs, alongside with Rainbow Centre, would be organising an Awareness Charity Carnival to raise awareness for children with special needs through exciting game booths.

These game booths takes a spin on the usual carnival games, and incorporate element of awareness to help everyone better understand these children. Take part in our workshops, or capture memories with your friends at our photo-booths!

Do not miss this carnival as we build an inclusive society from the Good Old Days!

Come join us this National Day weekend! I will be there at the carnival event.

We look forward to seeing you there!

 


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“Bridge The Gap”: A Youth Discussion On Inequality And The Class Divide In Singapore

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Yesterday morning, I attended this discussion session on inequality at *Scape Centre to expand my thinking, and to hear more in terms of perspectives of other young Singaporeans on this current hot topic. This is good because this closed-door event is not organized by any other governmental organizations, with a “government statement”. There was no media coverage. The discussion was organised under the rules of Chatham House, where all participants and speakers involved agreed that everything that has been said during this event will not be used for reporting. Hence, everyone who turned up was able to share his/her most honest insights based on observations and growing-up experiences.

I haven’t read the book titled “This Is What Inequality Looks Like”, written by Ms Teo You Yenn. I will find an opportunity to search for it to read one day.

I believe there is a certain extent of inequality in all countries, including Singapore. The crucial point, is how do we acknowledge it, tackle it as a community of Singaporeans, and take concrete actions to uplift others who are struggling to scale up in life, due to their disadvantaged backgrounds.

During break-out group discussions, I gave my own inputs, from the angle of someone who is from a low-middle family background, neighbourhood school, Normal (Academic) stream, EM2, ITE, hard-of-hearing, late mature honours degree student-to-be-next-year.

Speaking from the point-of-view of someone who went through the education system in the 1980s, I always thought MOE had a bit hand contributing to inequality among Singaporeans as they grow up. There is some degree of educational stratification, resulting from the effects of Primary 3 streaming examinations.

I guess I must be the only one who could be from a low SES (socio-economical status) background, in a room full of university students, civil servants, academics, editors, lawyers etc. Thankfully there was one media professional who understood fully what I meant because we are the same age-group! Haha..

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There was one speaker who spoke on 3 elements which are needed to beat inequality – choice, circumstance, and community.

On personal basis, I think we must always remember this – we always have a choice to decide becoming good or bad. Once in a while, it is okay to whine but to make a complaint every time is totally pointless. Developing the resilience muscle is what we need to do. A positive outlook is essential.

Being aware of own circumstances, I say, it is a life skill. Look at where you are now, with a macro view. With a calm rational mind, I believe we can strategize with a plan, and with a never-give-up attitude, we can aim to go to where we want to go. Adversity would only make us stronger.

The odds might stack up against us. In my growing-up years, I learnt that when our parents are unable to provide us with the resources we need, we should all the more think about how we can go out to get them, using our own ability.

If you can visualize it, you can achieve it definitely. The warrior mentality.

Community wise, I think it will be good to be aware of the available avenues one can turn to, for help. A community of supporting hands. To navigate smoothly through the seas of life, it matters too when it comes to whom you know.

Your inner circle of friends.

Your inner circle of influences.

Are they able to support and challenge you intellectually, to elevate you to a higher level?

I am a firm believer of positive peer influence. I often emphasize this heavily to the younger ones – You have to be selective with friends whom you mix around with. Like that saying goes, “If you want to fly like an eagle, don’t swim with the ducks!”

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The questions posed are difficult. This should spur us all to think hard about inequality in Singapore.

What kind of Singapore do we want to see in 15 or 50 years’ time?

Kudos to Clarence and Jin Yao for doing this grounds-up initiative!

My own viewpoint is that to beat inequality, it is not a matter of how fast you progress ahead of others but more of how well you improve and soar higher in life. Do bear in mind that there are some Singaporeans among us, who are late bloomers.

To tackle this issue, for a start, I think we ourselves can really start sharing our personal stories on online media platforms about how we overcome odds/challenges to beat perceived inequality on our own, to go where we want to go, to be a source of inspiration and encouragement to fellow Singaporeans who are currently struggling at their disadvantaged backgrounds, and could fall through the cracks.

And for those of us who succeed eventually, please do give back and assist those who are now in similar situations as you were before.

 


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2 Projects to Support

These are 2 projects which I am curating/mentoring at Young Changemakers 2.0 (National Youth Council) which require public support.

The events take place this weekend.

VOKational Carnival 2018

Students of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Welfare Services Club Challenge ur Limits (CurL) would like to invite you to join in at its main event — VOKational Carnival 2018.

Date: Saturday 30 June 2018
Time: 12pm – 6pm
Venue: Enabling Village (Address: 20
Lengkok Bahru, 159053)
Nearest MRT Station: Redhill

VOKational Carnival is a 1-day event comprising a carnival and station games
featuring different vocations as shown on below poster.

Students from these special schools – APSN Delta Senior School, APSN Tanglin School, Eden School and clients of Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore will be participating as beneficiaries. Students from mainstream schools are partnering them in the station games.

In addition, students from Mountbatten Vocational School will be presenting song-sign and hip hop dance performances and demonstrating their skills as station masters at the vocational station games.

Look forward to fun-filled games at the carnival booths and satisfy your taste buds with food such as cup corn, hotdog bun and ice-cream! You can also look forward to a
lucky draw as many attractive prizes are up for grabs!

Through this event, we hope all participants can get to learn more about the different career paths open for employment for our special needs beneficiaries in future. Talking about inclusive employment in Singapore.

Employers are encouraged to drop by take a look at the carnival. Public members such as nearby residents can walk in too!

To find out more, please feel free to visit their social media platforms.
Facebook: NTU WSC Challenge ur Limits,
https://www.facebook.com/NTUWSCCurL/
Instagram: @challengeurlimits

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Open Concept Singapore 2018

Open Concept Singapore 2018 competition is born/conceptualised as a platform for all dancers to break boundaries of their own dance.

A dancer is only limited by its creativity and perception of themselves. Be it krumping to classical, waacking to dubstep to amazing storytelling or crazy fresh shape and lines.There is no prefix labels here. Free style!!

Dancers can join as a showcase of 2-3 person or join the battle of 7-to-smoke abstract all-styles to express themselves.

Date: Saturday 30 June 2018
Venue: Aliwal Arts Centre
Time: 3pm – 10pm
Nearest MRT Stations: Nicoll Highway or Lavender

It is a showcase competition.
Number of people in a team: 2 – 3 people a team.
Showcase time-limit: 3-5 minutes max.

If you would like to watch this dance competition:
$15 (Early-bird – deadline: 16 June)/ $20 (At-the-door)

Get your early-bird tickets via
https://goo.gl/forms/LVcLBkJMXEyKyVqZ2

For further details/updates, do check out its FB event page – “Open Concept Singapore 2018”.

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Trump Kim Summit

 

Trump Kim Summit

It has been a while since I last penned some thoughts.

The hottest topic of the town this week, is Trump-Kim Summit where President of United States of America, Donald J.Trump and Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kim Jong Un have animously chosen Singapore as the venue to hold the historic talk– the first ever between a current sitting US president and a North Korean leader.

Thanks to the summit, Singapore has gotten a tremendous amount of global attention, hoping that there is a positive outcome on the denuclearisation of Korean Peninsula issue.

Check out the rest of the article which I have written on my LinkedIn profile here.