Alan Soh

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


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Military Training Safety

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I am saddened and shocked when news broke out on Wednesday night (23 Jan) that actor and fellow Singaporean, Aloysius Pang had died due to his crush injuries at an military exercise in New Zealand. It has sent shockwaves across the island state.

It is the 4th military-related training death occurred in 18 months since 2017.

The Chief of Defence Force Melvyn Ong Su Kiat , and Chief of Army Major-General (MG) Goh Si Hou held a press conference shedding light to media on its preliminary investigation findings on Thursday 24 Jan.

At the time of incident, what were the other 2 personnel doing?

If all three could see each other in the cabin, then the two men should reasonably be able to answer the 2 burning questions which everyone is now asking – who was the one who pressed the button, and why was it not clearly communicated in the cabin and getting the “all clear” before the button push was made, causing this unfortunate trauma to Aloysius?

I am not pushing blame on the other two but I feel strongly that they are the ones who probably are the best people to provide these answers.

A young life has been taken away mercilessly.

I firmly believe Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) had already gotten the answers from the two men. Perhaps SAF probably feel that it is not the right timing to reveal the real truth, or simply wants to craft their so-call PR speeches or worse, hoping that time will pass, Singaporeans will forget and it will be another day for everyone? I hope not, and I believe SAF would not do this.

SAF can provide PR-crafted answers but honestly speaking, Singaporeans expect transparent answers. This is what we all want to hear. Not beating around the bush and go back to square one.

As such, I sincerely hope that SAF can be truthful, transparent and honest in the upcoming Committee of Inquiry (COI) findings in Pang’s case. If personnel are proven negligent which directly or indirectly cause the death of Aloysius Pang, please mete out appropriate punishment penalty.

To be fair and objective, the fault does not lie with National Service (NS) policy. NS is here to say. Given our small country size, I support the notion that we must have a strong, effective military force to create deterrence for any group, or any country which harbour thoughts to attack us. NS is important because we Singaporeans are the only ones who can protect ourselves, our possessions and loved ones.

Rather, I believe the fault lies more of negligence, disregard of safety rules, peer pressure, lack of vigilance, not exercising check, care and concern for one another, miscommunication, poor attitude towards safety, and false assumptions.

Heavier punishments should be imposed. It seems to me that current levels of safety awareness among national servicemen may not be high enough. What is the point in calling for more doctrinal change if safety rules are not followed seriously by national servicemen at bottom levels? How would senior NS officers know? How many NSFs (Full-time National Servicemen) do not something properly but then tell their NS superiors that they claimed having followed all safety guidelines?

It can be just another day for you and me but not for his parents, family, girlfriend (actress Jayley Woo Jiaqi), relatives, friends and even unrelated strangers of Pang.

This case hits home harder, partly due to Aloysius’ celebrity status. It hits the heart of every Singaporean Son and even more so for parents who have growing-up boys.

Safety is paramount in SAF. There must be stronger safety culture. Encourage a whistleblower/feedback policy on anyone who is suspected flouting safety rules, regardless of NS ranks. Otherwise, Singapore could face a worrying scenario of having worried parents who hesitate to send their boys for National Service and subsequently, reservist duties (till the age of 40 years old for NS ranks below officers).

It is the people at the bottom who end up suffering the most for the lack of safety awareness, who among us cut corners on it in the first place.

Regrettably, the 28-year old boy was flown home to Singapore but in a lifeless state. He will be accorded a full honours military funeral at Mandai Cremation Centre today (Sunday 27 Jan).

I went to pay my respects last night (Sat 26 Jan).

Given his age, he can be my younger brother.

His young life is cut short abruptly. This shouldn’t have happened, at all.

No words now can relieve the pain of his parents and loved ones.

I hereby express my deepest condolences to his Noon Talk Media manager, Dasmond Koh, his parents, family members, relatives, colleagues and fans.

To our fallen brother, rest in peace Aloysius.

We will miss you deeply.

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Touch of the Hearts 2018

This is a project which I am curating/mentoring at Young Changemakers 2.0 (National Youth Council) which require public support.

It is my 3rd consecutive mentorship for this flagship project which is organised by undergraduates of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Residential Hall 4.

I have done theirs in 2016, and in 2017.


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Does the Good Old Days sound like a long time ago? How about reliving those moments with Touch Of The Hearts (TOTs) on the 11th and 12th of August at Bedok Town Square?

TOTs, alongside with Rainbow Centre, would be organising an Awareness Charity Carnival to raise awareness for children with special needs through exciting game booths.

These game booths takes a spin on the usual carnival games, and incorporate element of awareness to help everyone better understand these children. Take part in our workshops, or capture memories with your friends at our photo-booths!

Do not miss this carnival as we build an inclusive society from the Good Old Days!

Come join us this National Day weekend! I will be there at the carnival event.

We look forward to seeing you there!

 


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2 Projects to Support

These are 2 projects which I am curating/mentoring at Young Changemakers 2.0 (National Youth Council) which require public support.

The events take place this weekend.

VOKational Carnival 2018

Students of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Welfare Services Club Challenge ur Limits (CurL) would like to invite you to join in at its main event — VOKational Carnival 2018.

Date: Saturday 30 June 2018
Time: 12pm – 6pm
Venue: Enabling Village (Address: 20
Lengkok Bahru, 159053)
Nearest MRT Station: Redhill

VOKational Carnival is a 1-day event comprising a carnival and station games
featuring different vocations as shown on below poster.

Students from these special schools – APSN Delta Senior School, APSN Tanglin School, Eden School and clients of Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore will be participating as beneficiaries. Students from mainstream schools are partnering them in the station games.

In addition, students from Mountbatten Vocational School will be presenting song-sign and hip hop dance performances and demonstrating their skills as station masters at the vocational station games.

Look forward to fun-filled games at the carnival booths and satisfy your taste buds with food such as cup corn, hotdog bun and ice-cream! You can also look forward to a
lucky draw as many attractive prizes are up for grabs!

Through this event, we hope all participants can get to learn more about the different career paths open for employment for our special needs beneficiaries in future. Talking about inclusive employment in Singapore.

Employers are encouraged to drop by take a look at the carnival. Public members such as nearby residents can walk in too!

To find out more, please feel free to visit their social media platforms.
Facebook: NTU WSC Challenge ur Limits,
https://www.facebook.com/NTUWSCCurL/
Instagram: @challengeurlimits

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Open Concept Singapore 2018

Open Concept Singapore 2018 competition is born/conceptualised as a platform for all dancers to break boundaries of their own dance.

A dancer is only limited by its creativity and perception of themselves. Be it krumping to classical, waacking to dubstep to amazing storytelling or crazy fresh shape and lines.There is no prefix labels here. Free style!!

Dancers can join as a showcase of 2-3 person or join the battle of 7-to-smoke abstract all-styles to express themselves.

Date: Saturday 30 June 2018
Venue: Aliwal Arts Centre
Time: 3pm – 10pm
Nearest MRT Stations: Nicoll Highway or Lavender

It is a showcase competition.
Number of people in a team: 2 – 3 people a team.
Showcase time-limit: 3-5 minutes max.

If you would like to watch this dance competition:
$15 (Early-bird – deadline: 16 June)/ $20 (At-the-door)

Get your early-bird tickets via
https://goo.gl/forms/LVcLBkJMXEyKyVqZ2

For further details/updates, do check out its FB event page – “Open Concept Singapore 2018”.

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Trump Kim Summit

 

Trump Kim Summit

It has been a while since I last penned some thoughts.

The hottest topic of the town this week, is Trump-Kim Summit where President of United States of America, Donald J.Trump and Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kim Jong Un have animously chosen Singapore as the venue to hold the historic talk– the first ever between a current sitting US president and a North Korean leader.

Thanks to the summit, Singapore has gotten a tremendous amount of global attention, hoping that there is a positive outcome on the denuclearisation of Korean Peninsula issue.

Check out the rest of the article which I have written on my LinkedIn profile here.


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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!


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Social Media Influencers & Singapore Budget 2018

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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..


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PeaceJam Singapore 2017

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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.)

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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.

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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.