Alan Soh

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

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An Interview with Alan Soh – Part 2

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. =)


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An Interview with Alan Soh – Part 1

This is the prior interview done whereby the production house used my voice as a voice-over accompanying the video snippet produced.

Note: 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

Imagine a Parade with no little sounds. Mr Alan Soh marched in the Parade with just that. Being hearing challenged did not deter him to march in this year’s Parade. He overcame odds and difficulties to be on the parade, which is a feat itself definitely, representing the People’s Association Youth Movement (PAYM).

Qn: What motivates you into joining the NDP 2014 despite your hearing disability?

I have attended National Day Parade as a spectator for about 4 times, the last one being 2011. Was one of the performers with PA (People’s Association) at NDP 2006 which was held at the old National Stadium.

Sometime in April, I received an email from YM office about the recruitment of PAYM Marching Contingent Members for this year’s Parade. I would like to try something different – marching. It has been a good 12 years or so since I last did military marching during my National Service (NS) between 2000 and 2002. I am exempted from NS liabilities upon ORD. Being older now  and given my current hearing conditions, I just want to see whether I am still capable of marching well. Most importantly, I joined NDP 2014 to satisfy my own curiosity as in whether I can hear the Parade commander on stage and execute the marching commands without any hiccup.

In addition, I am currently serving my very last Youth Executive Committee (YEC) term which ends officially in July or August 2015. This could be my very last involvement in a big-scale event in the capacity of a YEC member; therefore I decided to grab this opportunity to take part.

Qn: Who inspired you to join the NDP?

No one. Just myself. I just want to do it.

Ms Karen Foo, Assistant Director of PAYM told me that I am free to opt out if I can’t do it after the first 3 training sessions. There is nothing to lose. So why don’t I give it a try?

It is a matter of now or never…so jump in first, talk later. Hee.

Qn: What are the difficulties you face when rehearsing or during the NDP?

It has been so far so good. Fortunately, no hiccups.

Whenever I embark on a new project or joining a new workgroup, I always make it a habit to be upfront honest about my hearing problem, working out solutions on how we (together as a team) can overcome this problem and minimize any possible misunderstandings that might occur.

My concern is always about effective communication with people around me.

So I make this issue known to everyone including the MINDEF trainers and YM officials when I joined the marching contingent on Day 1.

Difficulties? I was more concerned about deciphering the marching commands and doing it right. It was like doing a refresher course on NS marching.

Many of us especially the younger ones are clueless about NS marching. Nevertheless, our 5 trainers were very patient in teaching everyone the basic marching commands, and how to hold the banner flag pole correctly.

But I do admit that it is quite tough physically to undergo training under the hot sun during the component trainings as well as the combined rehearsals.

Fyi, we rehearsed twice per training session.

Qn: How did the people around you react when they realize that you are hearing impaired?            

No big reactions.

We are all youths. I still look like a normal person and talk normally just like anyone of you.
I tell myself I should be a friendly approachable person who is a co-operative team-player!

Qn: How long have you been doing this for the NDP?

About 5 months. Since Saturday 26 April 2014.

Qn: Will you be doing this again for the following years?

I don’t really know if I have another opportunity like this next year or in future. I hope so.

Maybe something different if I have another chance again? Such as an NDP singer? Hahaha…

To be continued..on my hearing impairment aspect.