Welcome to Unique Passions! A new segment where we interview various individuals who choose to pursue their niche interests, even if it means taking on the path less-traveled. Take a deeper look into their personal thoughts, opinions, and feelings towards life…
Is it possible to make a career out of photography in this little red dot? Or should it remain a short-term passion? Let’s hear from Paris, a budding photographer who like many, come from a humble background with entrenched aspirations of his own which may not bode well to society’s atypical definition of a successful route. Read on this post for his story and perspectives towards life, relationships and social issues.
This is the second part of the interview I’d done with Paris. You can read Part I here 🙂
“We had so many dreams as children. Where do they go when we grow? Are they swallowed up by the mundane things of everyday life? Or do we lose them, leave them behind us in the dust, for new children to find and take up?”
Does this phrase have any significant meaning?
I just feel that a lot of us are just doing things because society tells us to do these things – societal expectations. We’re not doing these things because we truly want to do them, or because we are truly happy. It is what our parents expect from us. What society expects from us. Many of the things we do are not what truly makes us happy. Even getting good grades, getting a nice car, or fighting so hard to get a HDB or Scholarship. These are not the things we really want. We were only truly happy when we were kids because those were only the times when we had the least responsibilities and expectations.
THE MESSED UP WORLD OF GROWN UPS
What are your views towards mainstream society?
It is sad man. It is an ugly world. It is just a reality created by… Let’s not go there. The beliefs, like what mainstream society stands for – Profit-making. [Manipulation?] I guess so. People, expectations placed on us. Basically, society sucks because the rich have to exploit the poor to remain in power. Everything is about money-making, commodifying everything. As a person, you are not seen as a person. But your value comes from what work experiences you have, what qualifications you have, how much money you own, what kind of house you live in, but not based on your character or personality. Everything is commodified in terms of money.
Would you say all these knowledge and perception you have now is because of what you’ve learnt in your university years? Are all these theories you’ve learnt in university essential to be aware of?
Yep, very much. I mean, if you are really interested, you can read books. You do not necessarily have to have an education to teach you these things. These are just readings my teacher told me to read, but if I were truly interested, I can just go to the library and search online for such books.
DO WE CONTROL SOCIETY OR DO SOCIETY CONTROL US?
What was your dream when you were a child?
To be a lawyer and pilot. [So it has evolved a lot?] Yup, because they were not practical dreams. I was not academically-oriented since I was young. So in Singapore’s society, there was no way I could become a lawyer. Pilot? Height restrictions.
Do you ever feel pressured to take the straight route in life?
Definitely yeah, definitely. You’re in Singapore what, you’re definitely pressured to take the straight route.
“Always easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.”
Is this quote a reference to the many structures and control placed in our lives?
I just feel that a lot of times we tend to worry too much about the decisions we make, or the things we are going to do. So just do it. Don’t be afraid. Go and try new things, and experience new things. Don’t be afraid. Cause in regards to the consequences.. You can always do damage control at the end of the day. E.g. If you want to go on a backpacking trip alone, just do it. Don’t think so much or not, your life will be so boring, mundane, and you wouldn’t be able to see things from a bigger perspective if you are always so scared to try new things. There’s always a takeaway from good or bad experiences, just how you want to perceive things. A bad experience can teach you a lot of things.
RISKS OF STEPPING ACROSS THE BOUNDARY
A war journalist may risk her life. A social activist may get into trouble with the law.
But at least, she is doing what she wants to do, which makes her happy.
So you wouldn’t mind going to jail for something that you love?
No, I don’t want to go to jail but I will fight for what I want to the extent that I probably wouldn’t go to jail unless it is something I feel strongly for.
THE RICH GETS WEALTHIER, AND THE POORER GETS POORER
Is there any cause or social issue that speaks to your heart?
Income inequality in Singapore between the rich and poor. [Any plans for that?] I can have a project on that but, I haven’t have any plans yet regarding that.
Am I right to say that you’re from the lower income family?
You can say that.
Do you face any discrimination or unhappiness from, or towards others because of the difference in socio-economic level?
I mean we all know Singapore is a first world country, the greatest concentration of millionaires but, majority of us don’t seem to be experiencing that, we are not in the receiving end. Everyday, we see transport prices going up. I have to top up my Ez-link card every 3 days? Food prices, and all the prices going up. The high cost of living doesn’t seem like a first world country. It’s so pressuring, distressing to be living in Singapore. Everyday, you have worries, checklist. Once you finish that checklist, BAMM, another checklist. It never ends. If you don’t overachieve, you’re not likely to make it.
Is there poverty in Singapore?
Definitely, I mean we do see homeless people on the streets. Well, there are a lot of people who are uncared for e.g. special HDB blocks where they live alone with strangers they do not know, elderly that do not have anyone to care for them.
RISK STABILITY FOR CHANGE?
Would you do community work in the future?
Not now, but in the future. Probably related to old people. I have a thing for them. I feel strongly for them. Most probably cause I have a grandmother I was really close to, and I don’t really like kids.
From a perspective of a university student and a young adult in Singapore, should there be changes made to our societal system, educations system, and societal attitudes?
Singaporeans should be more open-minded when it comes to things like politics and freedom of expression. Be more politically involved, and less politically apathetic. But a lot of us don’t see the importance of having a good government or a strong opposition. They choose to live in this made up reality that the government that we have now is good for us.
Choosing to stick to the old instead of trying the new?
A lot of us may not be well-versed on politics or democracy? I don’t know. But we should all be involved. [You feel youths in Singapore are apathetic?] They are too caught up with things that are more important e.g. getting good grades, the getting more likes in Facebook, or just travelling the world for the sake of looking cool? I don’t know. [When you say freedom of speech?] Like learn to speak up more, to not be afraid to voice out their opinions, or articulate their thoughts. We shouldn’t be living in fear in Singapore.
How would you personally define democracy?
Freedom to choose between something and something, and not have something forced down my throat.
SCHOOL, OPPORTUNITIES, RELATIONSHIPS
Anything you missed out before due to your hectic schedule?
Exchange, internship, travelling, working.
Do you regret all these?
Having taken up a leadership role in you University, what did you learn from it? And did it helped in your photography direction?
It helped me in building more connections, in knowing more people, and that helps in my photography. And naturally if you’re in a leadership role, people tend to assume you can do things, and they have no qualms in engaging your services.
Is your family supportive?
I guess so, there have not been complaints or anything.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Travelling. Either alone or with my other half. I want to have kids, but not in 10 years time.
What are 4 important things for a relationship to work?
Trust, consistency in showing affection, communication has to be healthy, don’t fight so much, and ideals. Must have the same [life goals, and values?] If you all believe in different things, it is very hard to live together or see a future together.
What do your family mean to you?
People that I really love and care about; regardless of how much time I spend with them.
WELCOME TO ALTERNATIVE MUSIC AND POLITICS
What kind of music do you listen to?
Rock n Roll, and maybe a bit of indie. [Why Indie?] More relatable. I can’t really relate to hip-hop because they talk about cars, blink-blink, high life. I don’t know? I don’t know what Lady Gaga or Katy Perry is doing. So indie songs are relatable to my life. A lot of indie bands start out small, so some are like me, from a lower income group. More relatable cause they are less commercialized. [Less superficial? More down-to-earth?] I guess so.
Who will you be voting for?
Opposition. Because I don’t want PAP to be complacent. It is just to make a statement to PAP, that we do not have as much faith in them as compared to last time. So many social ills and problems in society now.
You can follow Paris Chia, the handsome budding photographer Instagram’s page @parischiaphotography if you want to get his number oops I mean, explore photos from the heart with a human touch 🙂
To check out our other posts on Unique Passions, click HERE
Interviewed by: Cass
[Offbeat Perspective’s Interviews]
Category: “Unique Passions”
Category: “Unheard Voices”
Category: “Public Interviews”
Category: “Amos Yee Saga – Citizen Journalism”
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