Alan Soh

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

An Interview with Alan Soh – Part 2

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Alan SohNote: The replies given below may differ slightly from what I had given in late July 2014 when the interview was conducted.

Participation in National Day Parade

Qn: When and how did you realise you were hearing impaired?

I was all along a quiet boy and kept a lot of things to myself.
Ever since I was 4 or 5 years old, I’ve already sensed something amiss with my right ear. Because I wondered: “Why is it that everyone can listen and talk on telephone on both ears when I can only do so on my left ear?” However I did not have the guts to tell my parents and family doctor.

I have been communicating with people using my left ear. I attended normal schools.
Things started to get worse when I was a student of ITE Bishan in 1997. I couldn’t hear well on my left ear. Sounds I heard become faint.  I did not see doctor nor even declare this condition when I did the compulsory pre-National Service medical check-up at CMPB (Central Manpower Base).

So I was presumed to be combat fit. My NS PES status was B. Due to fact that I failed my NAFA physical test, I was posted to 2SIR @ Amoy Quee Camp, and was supposed to do my one-month PTP (physical training program) prior to Basic Military Training (BMT). It was during one marching drill session that my platoon commander think that I have trouble listening to drill commands (yes I was!), and so after the session, he dropped me a hint, suggesting me to see the medical officer.

I heeded his advice.  The medical officer @ 2SIR referred me to Tan Tock Seng Hospital to do more check-ups. All medical treatment fees will be borne fully by Ministry of Defence so I was determined to “find out the truth for once and for all”.

My right ear was an inborn dead ear; on the other hand my left ear had suffered hearing loss due to an unknown bacteria infection.

I was later posted out to Sembawang Air Base where I finished serving my National Service. My PES status was downgraded from B to E, and I was exempted for NSman liabilities and IPPT tests.
It was around year 2001 when I purchased a hearing aid from a private vendor.

As for my right ear, I did a cochlear implant surgery in 2011, with the help of Medifund from Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

For anyone’s info, I did not learn any sign language.

Qn: How did you overcome the thought of being different/at a disadvantage?

Thankfully so far nobody has discriminated against me due to my hearing issue.
I still go out to mingle with people.
It is mainly about how I conduct myself and work along with others.
In fact I studied mass communications to learn how to communicate effectively with people around me.

Since National Service, it has always been my habit to make known to anyone whom I will be working with, for the first time, about my hearing issue and take initiative to discuss how to resolve any possible communication barriers.

I realise a lot of things can be discussed and worked out if you are honest about any challenges you might experience.

And that was what I did when I took part in the NDP 2014 PAYM Marching Contingent.

Qn: What is one thing that you think you have missed out on in life that is a direct consequence of your hearing problem?

Rather than missing out anything, I would say I hope to be more daring. I hesitate to try out new things because very often I wonder how others might perceive me. I also wonder: Do I have the ability to do it? Can I really do that?


To be brutally honest, I am self-conscious about my hearing impaired issue, even till today.
Being older now, I start to be more open and lose that self-consciousness.
Life is short, so why should I bother so much?
If I want to do that something, just go for it! Yes, jump in first, talk later! LOL.

Qn: Do you have any quote or principle that you live your life with?

It is your disabled attitude that determines your disability, in which it determines life success. Given our limited lifespan on earth, so we should just get out of our comfort zones to go do what we want to do!

That wonderful feeling of accomplishment when you realise that you are capable of doing that something which you at first initially think you can’t do. This is where your self-confidence starts to grow. =)


Author: alansoh79

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