Alan Soh

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

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Fragility of Life

I was watching a 20-episode chinese drama serial titled “Gonna Make It!” 《小小传奇》on Xinmsn website. It is also currently showing on free-to-air MediaCorp Channel 8.  It is showing the last episode tonight.

It is about a young girl named Su Xiao Xiao, of whom has been released from jail. She came from a poor dysfunctional family background and was led astray.
Xiao Xiao wanted to start afresh, to pursue her lifelong dream of being a hairstylist. She encountered many obstacles but she didn’t give up. Celebrity hairstylist Liu A-man (of Star Salon) saw the deep passion and potential she has for hairstyling, and decided to provide mentorship to her. However he had weird temperament. He was a difficult teacher. But it did not deter Xiao Xiao from learning the hairstyling knowledge from him.

Meanwhile, she got to know a rich young man, Oscar who owns a hair salon business. Looking beyond her poor family background, Oscar liked her stuborrn and never-give-up attitude.  He entered into a love relationship with Xiao Xiao and kept encouraging her to learn the ropes of the hairstyling business. Oscar’s female companion, Wen Ya was a jealous and vicious rich lady. She has thought that Oscar will be her future husband. She tried all ways to break up the couple.

When it comes to the 17th episode, my tears started to drop when I saw how the cancer-stricken Liu A-man struggled to doll up his favourite actresss Bao’er at the annual television awards ceremony back-stage. His energy was sapping away every single moment. His hand was shaking. Xiao Xiao had to take over the styling task to let her mentor rest. Putting myself in the shoes of Xiao Xiao, it is definitely heart-wrenching to see someone whom you respected so much, to be in such a vulnerable state yet you are unable to anything to relieve his physical suffering.

It was a regrettable moment that A-man, on his deathbed didn’t get to see his ex-wife Monica for the very last time. The latter refused to see him. That tear which flowed from his closed eyelid when he had his final 2 gasps of breath.

It was an extremely emotional moment for Xiao Xiao who was at his deathbed in hospital. As well as TV viewers who saw the drama scene. Kudos to the actor Bryan Wong for playing this role so well.

It is always such occasions which make us realise how fragile life can be. Reminding us how important it is to appreciate the things people do and care for us during our limited time on earth. No matter rich or poor, healthy or sick. Achiever or non-achiever.

From the day we are born, we are destined to die one day. It is just a matter of time. Who goes first? You or me?

Liu A-man’s death has made me ponder about the day when I die.
I read in an online article that the sense of hearing is the last to go when a person dies.

Too bad, when I close up my eyes, I think I’m already gone totally. Even though with my hearing aids/cochlear implant device, I believe I won’t be able to hear anyone whispering into my ears.

Honestly speaking, I’m “scared” about the day if I ever slip into a long coma yet in a worst state with no hopes of recovery. I have to be mentally prepared if a loved one pulls the plug off the life support machine to let me die..

Anyway, to my loved ones, just remember to cremate my body with my hearing devices. Hopefully in my next life, I can be re-born as a happy boy with normal hearing..

In meantime, I shall be forward-looking and focus on things which I can do. 🙂

Editor’s Note: It is already Feb 2014, as I write this note. I have had attended 2 relatives’ funeral wakes so far since the year begun. One in January. The other in February. Funerals are sad sombre affairs. I dislike the feeling of saying a final goodbye to someone I know. 😦


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The university degree debate

In recent months, there has been some lively debate on university education in Singapore, more on the subject of “why a university education is unnecessary”.

For many students particularly those pursuing pre-university education in Junior Colleges (JCs) or Pre-University Institutes today, getting a university degree is akin to getting a 100% guarantee in securing a good job with excellent career prospects. They want a job with high pay. In actual fact, students are more of wanting the prestige that comes with a university graduation. They thought others will feel impressed if they introduced themselves as university graduate from XXX University.

Early last month, National Development Minister, Mr Khaw Boon Wan said that “fuelled with ambition, a university degree is not vital for someone to become successful in life”.

Singapore does not have natural resources. Hence it places premium on education to build its human capital. People with tertiary education qualifications are often seen as being more capable, more desirable and “more respected members of the society” relative to other groups of people who are not-so-highly-educated.

1. For men, many of them think that getting a university degree is necessary because they want to attract potential attractive spouses. Likewise for women, some of them are more drawn to men with university degrees who have higher disposable incomes, thinking that these men are “intelligent and charismatic”. These women feel that such men are ideal husbands, for they have the capability to bring food on the home dining table.

Singapore women today want more than an average lifestyle.

To put it in plain words, it means a university graduate is able to earn more MONEY!

2. As I’ve mentioned earlier, in many Asian families, they feel that it is honour and glory to have a university scholar at home. A more respected member of the society. University graduates will then be able to enter senior management levels in companies and organisations. Asians believe that a university graduate will be given more opportunities to propel ahead in life, as compared to a typical office worker.

3. In Asian societies, there is also a common perception that with a university degree, he or she will be looked upon as a successful symbol, telling surrounding people that he or she “has the ability to excel further in society in future years.”

To me, what matters more is self-discipline, passion, honesty, integrity, diligence, positive attitude, high EQ and resilence, and the desire to keep on improving one-self. Also not  forgetting —  having the right moral values.

Lack of tertiary education qualifications should not be a deterrent to success in life.

As I’ve written in my earlier post on the PSLE Debate, people develop at different paces at different life stages. Many of us are late bloomers.

Bill Gates? Steve Jobs? Ray Kroc? Sim Wong Hoo?

These are famous personalities who have made it big in life despite not having a university degree. They made many mistakes but they did not give up. They worked hard. They persevered.

Each and everyone of us are born with unique strengths and talents. When someone is not good in academic studies, it does not mean that he is also not good in other areas.

On a separate note, I feel that Singapore would be heading for trouble IF its policy-makers (particularly Ministry of Education) do not recognise the fact that our society as a whole will prosper and flourish only when more spaces and acceptance are given for different groups of talents to develop and grow. 

Talent or intelligence comes in different forms. We should not be so narrow-minded to look at “how far in life a person can go by just looking at his/her academic grades”. Does he/she has a university degree?

Grades don’t really prove anything. It only tells me that this person is exam-smart for all those papers which he/she has sat for.

If I can have my own definition, I would put it this way –> Academic grades (15%), skills (35%) and attitude for self-improving (50%) would come together to make a person successful….