Alan Soh

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

Leave a comment

Chinese New Year 2018

Today (2 March) is the 15th day and final day of the Chinese New Year (CNY) — Yuan Xiao Festival.

How was your Chinese New Year holidays?

My recent instagram posts provide some insights on how I spent mine. Check it out at my IG profile @ humourboi.

For the uninitiated, Yuan Xiao Festival is also known as The Lantern Festival, marking the end of the CNY celebrations. It is called Chap Goh Mei (literally 15th evening of the 1st Lunar Month) in Singapore. For the lovebirds, this is also the chinese version of Valentine’s Day!

Note: Please do not confuse it with the Mid-Autumn Festival which falls in the 8th Lunar Month which is also popularly known as Lantern Festival.

I am now at the final lap of my current course. I hope everything goes well.

I wish you happiness, good health, prosperity and great success in the Year of the Dog. Let’s work hard for ourselves! Have an awesome Woof Woof year! 🙂

Here’s my clip of the fireworks display taken at the recent River Hongbao event. Enjoy!


Leave a comment

Social Media Influencers & Singapore Budget 2018


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..

Leave a comment

PeaceJam Singapore 2017


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.)

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.



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. 

Leave a comment

Quick thoughts – Exams


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! 🙂

Leave a comment

Back to Textbooks (My 9-month journey)

MDIS Studies

It has been quite a while since I last penned a blog entry.

I took initiative to apply for SkillsFuture Study Awards at the beginning of the year, and I had successfully been awarded a sum of S$5,000 to further upgrade myself.

For the uninitiated, SkillsFuture is a national movement to encourage all Singapore citizens to develop to their fullest potentials by taking advantage of a wide range of learning opportunities from tertiary institutions and continuing education trainers alike. This is also to motivate Singaporeans to develop a growth mindset for employability as well as a positive outlook for lifelong learning.

To be employable, I think staying nimble and having learnability skills is the way to go. Hence this is why I decided to go back to textbooks this year because I wanted to expand my current knowledge and skill-sets on media & communications.

This has been my area of interest, particularly Public Relations.

SkillsFuture Study Award

This is a photo of me with Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, former Minister for Social Development & Family (currently the Speaker of Parliament) at a post-event reception of the SkillsFuture Study Awards ceremony held earlier in May 2017.

I am presently pursuing my Advanced Diploma in Mass Communication studies at Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS), in a tie-up programme with Oklahoma City University (OCU), USA. Over a nine-month period on part-time basis. Since August 2017. 6 modules to undertake.

I may proceed onto undergraduate level programme if I fulfill all requirements of the course.

Learning is an ongoing process, ever since the day we are born.

We are never too old to learn new knowledge.

I admit I do not know many things. I reflect and learn from past mistakes made. In fact, the older I grow, the more I understand about myself. In terms of strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes etc.

So what if I have a hearing handicap?

This is something which I can overcome, if I believe in myself. 

Positive attitude, self-awareness, teamwork, curiosity to understand new things, adaptability, perseverance are ingredients needed to succeed in anything we strive to do. Not just IQ.

I realise I like to analyze social issues, and understand the contributing factors behind them. Given the knowledge gained from this course, I can value-add by generating awareness and do an effective advocating of the social causes I care greatly about.

Being an excellent communicator is one of the requisites, to be in any industry besides media & communications.

Many things on my plate now. Need to do more readings too.
Having good writing skills is important too, so I will try to blog as often as I can… 😀

*For more information about SkillsFuture, you may check out its official website here.




Leave a comment

Breaking The Sound Barrier (Part 3)


As mentiond in my earlier blog post, I was interviewed for a MediaCorp TODAY article.

The survey findings collected by my NTU student mentees are expected of sort. And that is the reason why they want to do this “Breaking The Sound Barrier” project.

There are many misconceptions about the deaf community.

There should be NO discrimination. Seek to understand them and their abilities.

I feel strongly that our employers should be open-minded to look at job suitability in accordance to abilities, and re-align work processes if possible. In fact, our Government is also trying to chip in to help, providing certain schemes to defray costs of creating an inclusive workplace.

Other than highlighting more deaf role models in press/social media, I also think it is important for these special individuals to work hard on expanding their capabilities at the same time. Learnability. Adaptability. Transferable skills. A positive attitude helps.

With confidence, aim to BLOW the minds off these employers out there –

I am MORE than what you think I am.

Here I reproduce the article:

One in two employers do not intend to hire the deaf people: Survey.

SINGAPORE — When he went for job interviews, Mr Alfred Yeo who is deaf, would be asked how he would communicate with colleagues, or if he could read lips.

Many of these companies would not follow up after.

But two years ago, the 38-year-old landed a job as an accounts assistant, and his employer made it a point to email all his workers beforehand to share details on how to communicate with deaf people.

Mr Yeo’s experience is a rare one, going by a survey of 77 companies conducted by a group of final-year students from Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Only one in 10 employers surveyed have positive attitudes towards hiring deaf people, and one in two admit they have no intention to do so.

Some of the reasons given include concerns that deaf persons would not be able to communicate with clients, bosses and colleagues. Some of them said they had not come across any deaf applicants — perhaps by design.

Born with a dead right ear, Mr Alan Soh would struggle over whether to make it known that he was hard of hearing when he applies for jobs.

Sharing his experience, he said although he has had cochlear implant surgery done on his right ear, he remained apprehensive about writing his contact number on job applications, for fear he would not be able to clearly hear what recruiters say over the phone.

I (was) worried — will it blow my chances of being granted a job interview?” he said.

Even as they see attitudes gradually changing, deaf persons and associations that work with this group did not find the survey results surprising, noting that securing a job remains a significant challenge.

Touch Silent Club senior manager Danny Loke said: “The fear of discrimination is still very real among the deaf community as they often struggle to decide if they should indicate their hearing loss in their resumes.”

Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf) executive director Sylvia Teng said the challenges facing the deaf and hard-of-hearing community can only be overcome with a “certain (level of) understanding from employers, to be willing to make minor adjustments to job requirements to engage the deaf employee in alternative ways”.

To engage with employers, SADeaf launched its job support service in January, and also found that many companies were receptive to hiring and offering equal job opportunities to deaf or hard-of-hearing persons.

Mr Soh felt that without being given opportunities, such individuals would not be able to show what they are capable of.

Many of them could be raw diamonds, having the innate potential to go far in life,” he added.

This survey was conducted by a group of communication studies students from NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information. Called “Breaking the Sound Barrier”, the group aims to encourage employers to adopt more positive attitudes towards the hiring of deaf persons.

The group had written to over 200 companies to take part in the survey. Most of the 77 organisations that responded were small and medium enterprises.

Leave a comment

Breaking The Sound Barrier (Part 2)

Breaking the Sound Barrier

Breaking the SOUND barrier. Because there is NO you or them.

Through my NTU mentees, a journalist from TODAY came to knew about this project, and approached me to seek my inputs on questions he had about employment for deaf Singaporeans today.

1. What were some of the difficulties you faced during job hunt as someone who is hard of hearing? What was some of the feedback, or comments you heard from prospective employers? Has that changed, why or why not?
My response:
First and foremost, I am not born totally deaf. Hence I am not deaf mute.
I am born with a dead right ear, which means I still go to normal schools communicating with people with my left ear until the days when I was a student of ITE Bishan when I had bacterial infection in my left ear. As such I have to wear a hearing aid.
I am effectively bilingual. I can talk to anyone normally.
I did a cochlear implant surgery on my right ear in 2011.
At that point of time, I somehow knew that it will be MORE challenging, should I apply for jobs in future.
I am thankful that SG Enable and SPD employment support division provides me help.
Often in my younger days, I struggled with the dilemma of making my condition known in my CV to be submitted to employers. Because I am worried – Will it blow my chances of being granted a job interview? Being older now, I am more accepting of my disability and thus making it known in my job applications.
Frankly speaking, till today I hesitate to include phone numbers in job applications because what if I could not hear the recruiters well over the phone? Unless the mode of contact is via mobile text messaging.
Having said so, I still have to be honest about my hearing problem.
Interview sessions are for both parties to find out more about each other pertaining the job opening.
My method is – I try to be more comfortable, and perceive the potential employer “as a friend”, which it takes away the stress of “trying too hard to impress the other party”, and just be myself. The other party would also feel more comfortable. Words will come out freely and naturally. If the other party wishes to converse in Mandarin, I am able to switch effortlessly.
I try to do some small talk first to find something in common between us.
Once there is a common interest, there is rapport built and mood becomes more relaxing.
For sure, I must of course do some research on the employer before attending the interview so that I am able to answer his questions.
This is what I learnt from my journalism module when I studied Mass Communications at MDIS. The interview technique.
I guess, the little advantage which I think I have over other Singaporeans with similar condition is that, I can talk things upfront with employers during job interviews, telling them what I can or cannot do, things which interest me, my working style, experiences which I hope to gain etc.
The first question I always asked, is about communication aspect.
Questions like – Are you open to giving work instructions via emails or whatsapp? How often should we communicate face-to-face?
The feedback I got from employers, often is that “you look normal okay”, “you worry too much”, “nothing to worry about communication part since we can have a normal conversation like this”.
If I do not get the job, I would rather choose to think that I don’t fit the requirements than about my hearing disability. 
I don’t cry over spill milk. I just move on.
I sit down, reflect and do something about my employability skills.
This year I intend to upgrade myself academically so that I can deepen my existing knowledge and skills.
The most important thing is, the deaf individual should display a keen interest to learn something new and be humble.
Having that can-do spirit.
2. What do you think employers today should change, in terms of hiring deaf persons, or persons who are hard of hearing? 
My response:
Like able-bodied Singaporeans, the deaf community have various talents and abilities.
Very often we Singaporeans tend to look at people, passing judgement first on what they cannot do. These days, we become very critical of others.
I urge everyone including employers to look at surrounding people on what they can do first.
This is the biggest take-away I gain, from my previous job at a social enterprise, interacting with special needs workers.
If we give them opportunities, they might surprise you sometimes. Many of them could be raw diamonds, having innate potential to go far in life.
There is always a solution to every problem, if we are willing to pause, and think harder.
Be open-minded.
Be willing to learn the various communication modes with the deaf and hard-of-hearing such as simple sign-language or using Whatsapp (thanks to mobile technology).
They cannot hear well. They are very visual. Employers can give simple instructions in the form of pictures.
Work processes can be redesigned in a way that these deaf employees can do what they are required to do, bypassing their limitations. 
A little job stress is however essential, to make them grow. No pain, no gain.
If they do something well, praise them publicly for job well done. This will further boost their self-confidence.
Best still after sometime, employer can send them for skills-grading courses to enhance their competencies and self-dignity; and with skills certification, they can command a higher take-home pay.
We also need more deaf role models to be highlighted in mass media.
Sharing their stories of how they overcome odds to become what they are today.
This is to change the perceptions of the deaf community in the eyes of employers and Singaporeans alike.

Singapore should be truly an inclusive society where we really LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND.

Let’s lift every Singaporean up together. 

3. Why do you think employers might not be overly keen on hiring deaf people? 
My response:
Very often I believe some employers might think that “they cannot hear, cannot listen to work instructions, need to always look after them, as such they cannot make it.”
Or they might perceive that all members of deaf community are lowly educated, have bad attitudes, cannot handle a single job well.
This is a very flawed perception of them. They can be further trained.
Many of them are nice people.
As such, “Breaking the Sound Barrier” project initiated by Wong Jia Rong and his team aims to correct any misconceptions about the deaf, hoping employers across all sectors in Singapore understand that these special Singaporeans have employable qualities too.
The only little issue is – they cannot hear you well.