Alan Soh aka Humourboi

I am my own columnist, publishing my thoughts!


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YTSS 30th Anniversary Homecoming Dinner

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Established since 1986, my alma mater turns 30 years old this year. A buffet-style alumni dinner was held at the air-conditioned school hall of Yishun Town Secondary School (YTSS) on Saturday 30 July 2016.

I am humbled and honoured to be appointed as the Organising Chairman of this homecoming dinner. 500 tickets were sold out completely within a couple months of ticket sales announcement via the Yishun Town Alumni (YTA) Facebook Page at end February 2016.

An older male cousin, a former student of whom is now based in Indonesia, even flew back to Singapore to attend this dinner specially with his 2 classmates.

Like the rest of my organising team members, I reported in school early at about 4pm.

Many graduates turned up early for the school tour segment at 5.45pm before the dinner commenced at 7pm.

This is a dinner truly for the alumni, by the alumni. A reunion dinner of sorts. Food, games, photo-takings, lucky draw prizes, video slides, singing of school song, and cutting the birthday cake. It was a memorable night for everyone present. 🙂

Current and past YTSS students can see the photos via the open photo album links given on the timeline of YTA Facebook Page -> facebook.com/YishunTownAlumni.

Below is my welcome speech written,  addressing distinguished guests, principals, teachers and former students who attended the dinner.

Current principal Ms Sharon Yeo delivered hers before mine.


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Speech 1

 

 

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Singapore Armed Forces Day (SAF) 2016

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Parade Square @ Amoy Quee Camp, 2SIR

Looking back, it was only during my 2-year National Service period that I did not take any photos at all. Year 2000. That was about 15 years ago. All I had was my SAF 11B ID photo which I still kept today.

My most memorable period of NS was during the 1st two months at Amoy Quee Camp, 2nd Battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment (SIR). Physical trainings and marching drills. Among hundreds of recruits, little did I expect to be chosen to be my Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM)’s personal assistant. He was a stern teacher yet a fatherly figure. Although I am no officer cadet, he still taught me to think and behave like one. Integrity and self-discipline. RSM quite doted on me wheras his subordinates – the CSM (Company Sergeant Major)/S1 and S4 sergeants loved to come “disturb” me time to time. 

I used to slouch my back. It was my company platoon commander who trained me to develop and maintain a good habit of walking and sitting up-straight. He said, “You are now RSM’s PA. You ought to walk like one. Walk like a positive young man. More importantly, you will not suffer from any posture issues when you grow old one day.” Yet he was also the one who always tricked me into doing more chin-ups when doing IPPTs. My lousiest station. :p

As for my platoon sergeant, he was the first sergeant who reached out for my friendship during 1st or 2nd day of my NSF life. He made the first move. I didn’t want to talk to anyone at that time, so I wondered “Among all people, why does this sergeant come to me? I am only a NSF recruit. He likes me?”

He thawed that little iciness in me, made me understood what brotherhood is about. We are of about the same age. He offered to help whenever I encountered any problems. He liked to slow down, running alongside with me when doing 2.4km morning runs. Liked to chill out with me after last parade and routine order. Ate together during mealtimes at the cookhouse. We may sometimes even exit the camp together when we booked out on Saturdays. We became quite close eventually. Although I was later transferred to Sembawang Air Base (SBAB), I went back to 2SIR once to look for him about a year later, to see if he is still there. I couldn’t find him, thought he wasn’t around in the camp, hence I left my contact number with HQ S1 office. Yes, he was around – that was when he called me on my mobile phone when I was just out of the camp gate, telling me to u-turn back to go find him at the HQ Officer Mess. I ran back.

My platoon sergeant taught me to reach out, extending friendship to others first, which I do today. I followed doing what he has done. 🙂

Thank you Sir. My hearing impairment has had not in a way or another, stop you people from believing in me, giving me selfless guidance.

How have you guys been? I also missed my then Platoon 4 mates at Bravo Coy.

Every July 1st, it is Singapore Armed Forces Day. Happy belated SAF Day.

We are young lions, second to none! 🙂

Extra reading note: Here was what I wrote previously -> Singapore Armed Forces Day 2014


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Quick Thoughts on LBGT

Pinkdot Singapore

He could not tolerate 2 men kissing, so the 29-year old man became angry and went on a shooting spree killing 49 fellow human beings who were in a gay bar in Orlando with a rifle gun. It happened this week.

What wrong did these people do to end up being killed tragically?

It chills me when I see there are people among us who cheered the shootings made by the American killer, thinking along the line that “oh these LGBT people really deserve to die, if only we can do the same to the same group of people here in Singapore”.

Why do we have people in this world who just could not accept differences among us?

 
Please allow me to see things in an objective viewpoint.
Who started the “war” in the first place? Very often, I think it is the non-LGBT group especially the very conservative ones with a religious perspective.
 
Group A don’t offend Group B, yet Group B keep attacking Group A.
It is natural that Group A would rebut back, seeking equal treatment actively.
 
This is because Group B cannot tolerate the existence of Group A.
(Of course I don’t deny the fact that there are some LGBTs who keep pushing the boundary line.)
 

Come on, we are all not saints.

 
Among people in the LGBT group, they could be our brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunties, sons, daughters, or very close friends. They did not offend you but are you going to end the relationship simply because of their sexual orientation?
 
Ask ourselves – are we willing to sit down and talk openly with them in the first place, seek to understand them without any pre-judgement? Are our eyes blinded by misconceptions? More importantly, do we respect and accept them for who they are? Are they friendly to you? Do you still love them the same as before?
 

It is regrettable that there are people in this world who just don’t understand the simple saying – “Treat others as how you would like to be treated”.

 
Many of us are not patient, and don’t listen enough to understand the other party. Some of us simply look at matters from our own perspective. Cannot give and take.
This explains why conflicts or wars still exist in many parts of the world today. 😦


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Inclusiveness. Perception.

A recent survey commissioned by Lien Foundation reveals that in these 1000+ respondents, only 1 in 10 Singaporeans is confident of interacting with a child with special needs. 50% of the adults polled are comfortable with having a child with special needs in their children’s class. And finally, only 8% of the people polled are willing to make a child with special needs feel welcomed.

What does it say about us? Why? Why this discomfort? Is it because of misconception, pre-judgement or stereo-typing? Thinking that people with special needs among us are “stupid”, “unable to contribute to society”, “always depending on others for help”, “can’t achieve much in life” or “better not to be seen and heard”? Why are there Singaporeans not walking the talk about inclusiveness in the Lion City?

In my course of work, my interactions with Singaporeans with special needs often made me go awe. Because I discovered some of them have hidden talents. Most importantly, these people are easy to get along with. They are very friendly people. I feel at ease talking to them.

We should focus at what these people can do, NOT what they cannot do. Like anyone of us, some of them are born with different gifts. From there, we can redesign job-scopes to cater to their strengths. They are a hidden pool of potential talents, if we give them opportunities to develop their abilities. They are raw diamonds.

I always believe disability happens only if I am disabled in the mindset, not my physical limitations. Of course people are entitled to their own opinions at the end of the day.
This is beyond my control.

At the end of the day, it is about our perceptions. How we see this special group of people. It is a matter of our willingness to understand these fellow Singaporeans with special needs.

Let us open our hearts and minds.  They might just surprise you with their abilities. 🙂


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One Year On..Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s departure

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Just a couple days ago, the Singapore Government and many fellow citizens remembered our Founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew, of whom has passed away at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) on 23 March 2015, at 3.18am.

With deep sadness, his son, of whom is also the current Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong announced his father’s passing away via mass media later that morning. The news of his death has rocked the nation and many other countries worldwide.

Mr Lee’s health was deteriorating, however many Singaporeans had hoped that he would be able to recover and join in the upcoming SG50 National Day celebrations in August. Heard that he last stepped into his office in April 2015 before hospitalisation.

I believe some Singaporeans were bracing themselves for his impending death. I was one of them. However I didn’t expect the news to come suddenly that Monday morning.

On this day 25 March, exactly a year ago, there was a procession of the gun carriage bearing Mr Lee’s body along a 2 kilometre long route from the Istana, through the Civic District, to the Parliament House where his body was laid in state – for Singaporeans, and for foreign friends, far and near, to come paying their last respects to him, round the clock. 24 hours. For 5 days. His State Funeral took place on Sunday 29 March 2015.

As you can see, a Singapore state flag was drapped around his coffin as a gesture of highest respect and honour for this great man.

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Thousands of Singaporeans including myself went to queue, just to pay respects to him. It was a historic moment because many people including the elderly were very much willing to go the extra mile, bracing the hot sun to queue. This is where the Singapore Spirit came alive – strangers stepped forward to do something for their fellow citizens, offering free drinking water, fans, umbrellas, mini seats to people who were queuing. Taking initiative to do something.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew and other founding fathers made the Singapore Story a legend. He unified all Singaporeans as one, even in his death.

On Wednesday evening, I went to one of the remembrance events held at the steps of the National Arts Gallery (former Supreme Court building). It was held from 6.30pm till 8.30pm.

Penned my thoughts on the electric candles provided. And worn the red/white ribbon given, onto my tee shirt.

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If you ask me for one Singapore national day song to play at Padang for us Singaporeans to remember Mr Lee Kuan Yew, I personally think the 1986 song “Count on me Singapore” is the best choice.

The song lyrics are appropriate and meaningful, especially on this 1-year death anniversary day. Talking about rallying Singaporeans together to keep Singapore going till and beyond SG100. I believe this is the biggest concern or worry which Mr Lee Kuan Yew have had before he passed on.

We will continue to write the Singapore Story until the day the island state turns 100 years old in year 2065.


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A random Sunday thought

On top of my hearing impairment condition, I always make it a point to mingle more and try to understand people from their point of view. Especially from the best smart ones. Although I admit that my critical thinking ability may not be very good. Okay, perhaps it means I need to read up more?

It is another separate issue if people are not willing to share.

At my current age, I already learnt not to pre-judge people first. These days, I understand things by listening and observing, and then try to understand why things are done in a certain pattern.

Until today, I am still trying to understand what is my unique standing position in Singapore and this world. Why am I born in Singapore? Why am I in this current state? Why do I exist? What is my purpose? Is there something I can help to change in this world? How do I go about doing it?

I somehow think that purpose is getting more clearer and clearer to me.

The challenging part is often about how one can look beyond surrounding naysayers say and follow what he or she wants to do wholeheartedly.

I think sharing perspectives can help to broaden my mind further.
I like talking to people, to understand their thoughts on an issue.

Hmm..maybe it is time to come up with my own version of MediaCorp Channel 5 “Let’s Think About It” conversation with some friends over coffee?


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Taiwan Trip 2015

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I made 2 trips to Taipei in 2015, the first was made on 25 November and the second on 29 December.

The first trip was made with Charles tagging along. I spent 4 days in Ximending, Taipei while he continued staying on till 1 December 2015.

The second one was a solo trip. I spent my NYE holidays there also in Ximending, aiming to see Taipei 101 fireworks at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day. I met up with a fellow Singaporean friend Billy Loh, who was there for a Chinese Buddhist Temple retreat activity from 24 to 28 December.

I felt that doing solo travel is quite liberating, as I have full control over where and when I want to go. It gives me an opportunity to be even more self-dependent, and at the same time, be more observant of my surroundings. More importantly, I step out of my comfort zone to discover new things. Hmmm so I say, it is quite enjoyable. 🙂

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Civic mindness. This is what I observed when I spent my NYE holidays in Taipei.
Many people including myself were sitting on the closed roads near Taipei City Hall area, waiting in anticipation for the Taipei 101 fireworks to take place. Many were seen with their DSLR cameras or smartphone cameras. I expected people standing up immediately at the stroke of midnight snapping photos of the fireworks.

It never happened. Except for a few people using tripod stands, I was so surprised and amazed to see people continued sitting snapping photos of the fireworks! The Taiwanese perfectly understood that if they are to stand up, they would obstruct the view of others who are sitting down behind them.

This would not happen in Singapore.

The metro trains were running 24 hours on New Year’s Eve. After the fireworks, people were queuing to take train at Taipei City Hall Station. A stampede could happen any time if crowd control measures are not implemented. The train station was shut down temporarily. Using a microphone and a friendly tone, the station master (I presume) urged public members waiting at the station entrance not to push one another while going down the elevators to take train when the station reopens. To further lighten the mood among the waiting crowd, he even cracked some friendly jokes. Party revellers laughed. People also made way automatically for a wheelchair-bound individual, for him to be wheeled to a safe spot outside the station, with the kind assistance of a train station staff. A few other train station officers were also present, professional yet patient to answer any public queries.

As usual, the Taiwanese queued on the right side of elevators.

That human touch. A sense of inclusiveness. 人情味。体谅与关怀。This is one positive aspect of Taiwan, which I REALLY like about her. 🙂