Alan Soh

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


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Anyone still using voicemail?

voicemail

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.


WhatsApp Image 2018-07-28 at 11.04.40 PM

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.


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Chinese New Year 2018

Today (2 March) is the 15th day and final day of the Chinese New Year (CNY) — Yuan Xiao Festival.

How was your Chinese New Year holidays?

My recent instagram posts provide some insights on how I spent mine. Check it out at my IG profile @ humourboi.

For the uninitiated, Yuan Xiao Festival is also known as The Lantern Festival, marking the end of the CNY celebrations. It is called Chap Goh Mei (literally 15th evening of the 1st Lunar Month) in Singapore. For the lovebirds, this is also the chinese version of Valentine’s Day!

Note: Please do not confuse it with the Mid-Autumn Festival which falls in the 8th Lunar Month which is also popularly known as Lantern Festival.

I am now at the final lap of my current course. I hope everything goes well.

I wish you happiness, good health, prosperity and great success in the Year of the Dog. Let’s work hard for ourselves! Have an awesome Woof Woof year! 🙂

Here’s my clip of the fireworks display taken at the recent River Hongbao event. Enjoy!


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Social Media Influencers & Singapore Budget 2018

influencers

Singaporeans do it almost 24/7, particularly the millennials who are born in the 2000s.

According to a 2016 annual report compiled by social media agency We Are Social, there are 3.6 million active social media users in Singapore. There are 4.65 million internet users.

The top 3 social media platforms used among Singaporeans are Whatsapp (46%), Facebook (43%) and Instagram (18%). In terms of media consumption habits, Singaporeans spent an average of 4 hours 14 minutes on internet via computer or tablet device daily and 1 hour 39 minutes on social media via any mobile device daily.

It is no wonder many service providers, advertisers, public relations agencies are leveraging on the power of social media to promote awareness of their services, products or events among Singaporeans these days.

This probably creates a greater need for influencer marketing, of which it is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on social media personalities who have a substantial number of followers; whereby they can be “tasked” to persuade or convince their followers to buy a product or patronise a service on their social media channels. Globally, it is expected to be a growing industry projected to reach US$5billion (S$6.6million) in 2018.

Depending on their own personalities, these influencers could be into arts, sports, travelling, fashion among others.

 
Singapore Budget 2018 falls on 19 February.

Based on current economic conditions, Minister of State for Finance, Mr Heng Swee Kiat will be delivering his Budget Statement in Parliament, announcing a number of monetary measures for businesses, and for the ordinary Singaporean on the street.

In an efffort to reach out to younger Singaporeans, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) has engaged over 50 social media influencers to do an Instagram campaign to promote awareness about Budget 2018. In a press report, its spokesman said the social media campaign which lasts a month, is estimated to reach 225,000 instagram users. Its spokesman also said it paid “market rates” to the hired influencers.

 

Is it a good tactic for MOF to tap on the influencers to generate interest about Budget 2018 in Instagram?

I understand the Government is trying to do an effective outreach to young Singaporeans about budget and financial planning. But personally as a mass communications student and a former public service servant, I do not think influencers are the best people to create the right buzz for government policies.

Firstly, are they the right people with the relevant knowledge? In other words, are they qualified enough to be spreading word about Budget 2018? Seriously speaking, it sounds not convincing if say, one engages a fashion influencer with a performing arts background to spread word about budget/finance. The subject requires some knowledge in economics or a flair in analysing facts and numbers. Get what I mean?

Often, these influencers are perceived to be young people who are very much into branded items, clubbing, luxury lifestyles, looking fashionably trendy etc. For serious topics such as Budget, it will be more appropriate to go for an influencer who exerts a professional image. For example: a somebody whose real profession is an economist?

Secondly, the number of social media posts these influencers make pertaining Budget 2018 may not translate into higher levels of public awareness. Because they can just simply click a “like” because they like the influencer. Will these followers read those crafted messages pertaining Budget 2018? Very likely, no.

There is a high tendency that these messages could “fall on deaf ears”. This is because majority of their followers are of a much younger age group who may not be in tune to government policies. In terms of preferences, they are more likely into fashion, IT games, Starbucks, smartphone games than profound subjects such as GDP, economic forecast, inflation, and politics.

I agree totally with this statement made by Associate Professor Ang Swee Hoon, Business School, NUS in the ST article titled “Can influencers create the right Budget Buzz?” published on Sunday 21 Jan 2018. She said: “If the influencer’s personality is not a (right) fit, then the buzz becomes about the misalignment instead of the Budget process”.

I am aware that this Instagram campaign could be just one of the tactics in MOF’s integrated marketing communications strategy to raise public awareness about Singapore Budget 2018.

However, I’m afraid it could putting taxpayers’ monies to waste..