Alan Soh

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


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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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“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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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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Social Media Influencers & Singapore Budget 2018

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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..


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A little note of self-encouragement

self loveI was updating my LinkedIn profile when I came across this note written by a career strategist. Which I think it would be good for me to share it here with everyone.

Not just for myself.

The first post should be a positive one.

I believe the importance of self-love because we are our own best friend till the end of our lives.

 

2018 has just started. Happy New Year! Hope it has been a good start for you so far. 🙂

I’ve always believed that any person with a little bit of talent, a little bit of passion, a little bit of courage, some drive, and some perseverance could achieve whatever he or she could dream of.

Nothing is impossible unless you close the doors on your own.

Don’t let the whole staircase scares you, just focus on lifting up your leg to the next step. And then the second, and then the third.

Each of these steps is a completion of your milestone. And once a step is completed, give yourself a pat on your shoulder.  

This pat is actually a physical recognition of a job well done and it is a form of subtle encouragement to trigger your inner-motivation. Try it. 

Start to discover yourself a little bit more, and you will be amazed on how these little actions you take will eventually lead you to the dream you want to achieve.

Take each challenge as it comes and celebrate the successes along the way. No matter big or small. Celebrate our abilities. Work out something to overcome our weakness.

We are in control of our own efforts. Have a growth mindset.

We strive to be better persons hence we shall not compare ourselves with other people unnecessarily.

Do rest if necessary but please do not give up.

A self note – You will continue to grow if you can take whatsoever life challenges in your stride on one day, one step, one action at a time.

You are a start-up….The next great business is you —– Hugh Howey


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PeaceJam Singapore 2017

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Started in Feb 1996, PeaceJam Foundation is a global movement whose mission statement is “to produce young leaders committed to positive changes in themselves, surrounding communities, and the world”. With its 2 co-founders Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff, 14 Peace Prize Laureates came together to create an educational programme to teach youths across different countries the art of peace.

There is an ongoing global campaign titled “One Billion Acts of Peace”, which aims to tackle tough issues facing mankind such as inadequate access to public education, environmental awareness, extreme poverty, violence to children & women etc.

The first one was held here in Singapore last year.

The second one was held earlier this month.

I managed to take time off studies to participate in this activity.  (Coming to Term 2 of my 9-month course.)

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Happy and privileged to be among the 15 PeaceJam Mentors to share knowledge about social change to a bunch of 70+ youths coming from different schools in Singapore, locals or foreigners.
I guess I am the only tertiary student who is a non-NUS undergraduate.

I mingled with them, taking interest to find out more about the course of studies they undertake.

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Tapping on past training and experiences gained during Young ChangeMakers (YCM) stint, I broke ice and facilitated an exchange of viewpoints with my group of bubbly youngsters on social impact, partnering with Ms Aishwary, who is an NUS biomedical engineering PHD student.

My hearing issue isn’t much a problem to communicate with these youngsters.

Last but not least, I’m grateful to be able to listen to speech made by Nobel Prize 1996 Peace Laureate, Mr Jose Manuel Ramos-Horta, former President of East Timor.

To National Youth Council (Singapore), I thank you for this great opportunity to allow me to be part of it. 


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Quick thoughts – Exams

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For someone like me, a young working adult who is back at textbooks after a good 10-year+ hiatus, it is definitely not easy. I believe this happens to many of us who are in similar circumstances. Familiar?

I had my first paper yesterday.

Yes, I do pay attention in class and do my assignments diligently but somehow the anxiety sets in during moments before entering the examination room. The mind may go half blank. A sentiment shared by a few of my course-mates in our Whatsapp group chat.

Tackling 4 out of 7 essay questions are quite a challenge.

You should be able to write fluently if you understand the lesson concepts well.

Keep cool and calm. Use pencil to scribble quick notes on question paper to remember facts.

Have sufficient rest the day before.

Oh yes, I think it is advisable to have a half-full meal before the exam paper. You would not want to have that heavy urge to go toilet halfway during the exam time-slot right?

Good luck to all those of us who are having exams during this year-end period! Fight on! Don’t give up! 🙂