Alan Soh

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


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Helping people take flight in 2017!

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It is a brand new year.

It is time for us to take charge of our lives, and strive to equip ourselves with new skills so that we can be independent and fly high.

A friend of mine has founded a new social enterprise called Taking Flight 启飞, which aims to help provide fair employment opportunities and personal development for disadvantaged youths in Singapore (which includes physically challenged, at-risk and those below the poverty line).

This is achieved through business process consultations with small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) to clearly identify portions of the value chain that could be undertaken by these Singaporean youths.

 

Together with the job match, Taking Flight will look to value-add to the persons in the following areas:

i) Personal Development (such as On-boarding, Workplace training, Continuing Education)

ii) Financial Development (such as Coaching/ Mentoring by experienced volunteers, financial literacy skills)

iii) Career Development

 

The social enterprise has currently started efforts in the financial industry to take on a few different roles starting March 2017. This pilot effort will provide part-time employment for a duration of 3 months before review and scaling.

Looking for Singaporeans or Permanent Residents who are:

– aged 18 years old and above,

– able to speak simple English with anyone outdoors,

– can be from disadvantaged families, physically-challenged, deaf, or youths-at-risks,

– IT savvy enough to use a smartphone or a tablet PC.

If you or know any fellow Singaporeans who have a keen desire to break out of their cycles to become someone strong and independent one day, would like to occupy free time slots to earn some income on part-time basis, this is the place for them to start embarking on a journey of personal transformation.

Working hours are flexible. The jobscope is doable and it pay wells.

The founder has more than 15 years of prior work experience in conceptualisation, implementation and reviewing of the Youth Sector Development Framework and establishing grant relations with many non-profit organisations in Singapore.

He is not looking at 20 individuals, in fact more than 100.

To find out more details via a non-obligatory chat over a cup of friendly coffee, or to express interest, you may e-mail me at alan.soh@hotmail.sg or Mr Yap Keng Hwee at yapkenghwee@yahoo.com.

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Thoughts on AYE Accident

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It was a traffic accident which nobody wants to see it happening.

A Mercedes Benz driver went against the flow of traffic on the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) in the direction of Tuas, at about 8am yesterday (Monday 19 December). The reckless driving of the driver has resulted in a multi-vehicle collision involving 4 cars, 1 motorcycle and 1 bus.

The 53-year old driver was travelling along the AYE towards Tuas Checkpoint, when he was believed to have made a U-turn suddenly and gone against the flow of traffic, hitting into several vehicles. As a result, a 37-year old male car driver was killed. The victim was trapped in his driver seat, and his body had to be extricated by Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) personnel using hydraulic rescue tools.

When confronted by some motorists who stopped by to help, an adult man who is said to be the son of the driver, apologized. He said that his father was “having depression”. The police has arrested the driver for causing death by a rash act.

I am saddened to see quite a number of fellow Singaporeans jumping guns at the 53-year old Mercedes driver, expressing online comments that he should go die elsewhere if he really has depression.

Yes I am angry, and certainly agree that this man ought to be punished heavily for what has had happened yesterday morning. Terrible. Someone has died. Some people are hospitalised for their heavy injuries.

However let’s be objective, giving the man the benefit of doubt – what if it is certified true that the driver really has depression? Did he know what he is doing and what has had happened? Does he have the criminal intent to drive recklessly?

More importantly, what caused the Mercedes driver to drive so recklessly? Did something made him very emotional and agitated suddenly that the son could not hold him in restraint no matter how hard he could have tried? Why are these netizens also blaming the son?

I believe the adult son who was sitting beside his driver father, is also feeling sad and horrified to see this terrifying accident happening right before his own eyes. Especially if he knows that an innocent 37-year old father has died tragically as a result of his own father’s rash action.

Just because he isn’t someone we know, it does not give us all the ultimate right to curse him to die.

Who are we to judge a total stranger?

Don’t tell me these netizens never make mistakes at all?

We are not the accused. We do not know what problems or challenges that might have arisen for the Mercedes driver to go berserk before the mishap happened.

We do not know the whole story.

We should stay calm and rational, and wait for the police to find out the entire truth.

My deepest sincerest condolences to the family of the deceased, Mr Jackie Liong Kuo Hwa.

(Note: If you happen to see photos of the AYE accident victim Mr Jackie Liong Kuo Hwa being killed and trapped in his car, please don’t circulate it online. We should be sensitive to the feelings of his family members, relatives and friends.)


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Breaking The Sound Barrier (Part 1)

It has been several months since I rejoined Young ChangeMakers 2.0 at National Youth Council, as a YCM project curator aka mentor.

I am presently the YCM Project Mentor behind a group of enthusiastic undergraduates from Nanyang Technological University, Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information.

The team is planning a campaign, titled “Breaking the Sound Barrier”, which hopes to help the deaf community in Singapore.

1 out of every 1,000 babies born in Singapore have severe or profound hearing loss, and the team found themselves being drawn to this issue and hence, would like to do something for the deaf Singaporeans.

The main partner of this project, Singapore Association of the Deaf (SADeaf) has served the deaf community for over 61 years. To the team, it has highlighted the problem of deaf Singaporeans having difficulty in searching and getting jobs despite having the same qualifications as others. As such, there is an increasing importance to help create an inclusive workplace environment for the deaf.

The objectives of this 7-month campaign are:

  1. to heighten awareness among employers of the potential of deaf community as ABLE employees,
  2. to change employers’ perceptions towards hiring the deaf,
  3. to encourage more local employers to hire the deaf.

The key message here is; to break employment barriers for deaf Singaporeans – they can be valuable employees and excellent contributors to our workorce.

The deaf are just like you and me.

By supporting and dispensing advice to this project, I am indirectly helping similar Singaporeans like myself. Therefore, I stepped forward to be their mentor, offering help.

 

Presently the team is carrying out a survey to better understand the current situation.

I will be very grateful if you could help us to spread word about this online survey to people in your network connections, of whom you know who are managers, particularly Human Resource personnel, or anyone involved in the hiring procedures.

Responses are kept 100% confidential, and the information collated will be very helpful to this campaign.

Here is the Breaking the Sound Barrier – Online Survey

I hope you can assist us, in helping this group of Singaporeans, building a more inclusive Singapore.

Thank you very much! 🙂

breaking-the-sound-barrier


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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. 🙂