The world we live in: A photo essay by Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin

Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin launched his first solo photography book, The World We Live In, yesterday at the National Library. The book is a compilation of his travel photos and includes images taken in Singapore. Mr Tan, who had been working with the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) on fund-raising, is seeking to raise money for the NKF, Minds, Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society and Cheng Hong Welfare Society - the idea being to encourage people to donate a little more and receive the book as a gift. Through the national Care & Share programme, the Government will match donations dollar for dollar. The book had raised about $660,000 as of yesterday afternoon, before the matching funds. The text below is from the book's Introduction.

Red Square, Moscow, Russia. -- PHOTO:TAN CHUAN-JIN
Red Square, Moscow, Russia. -- PHOTO:TAN CHUAN-JIN
Statue of Liberty, New York, the United States. -- PHOTO:TAN CHUAN-JIN
Defending our own. -- PHOTO:TAN CHUAN-JIN
Berlin Cathedral, Germany. -- PHOTO:TAN CHUAN-JIN
Joo Chiat Terrace, Singapore. -- PHOTO:TAN CHUAN-JIN
Victoria Peak, Hong Kong. -- PHOTO:TAN CHUAN-JIN
Geylang Serai Market, Singapore. -- PHOTO:TAN CHUAN-JIN
Seven Sisters, Sussex, Britain. -- PHOTO:TAN CHUAN-JIN
Jerusalem, Israel. -- PHOTO:TAN CHUAN-JIN
Montmartre, Paris, France (above). -- PHOTO:TAN CHUAN-JIN
Montmartre, Paris, France (above). -- PHOTO:TAN CHUAN-JIN
Preah Khan, Siem Reap, Cambodia. -- PHOTO:TAN CHUAN-JIN
Golitha Falls, Bodmin Moor, Britain. -- PHOTO:TAN CHUAN-JIN

My interest in photography started while I was in the army. In 1988, I was an officer cadet undergoing my training at Sandhurst in the UK. My fellow officer cadets and I were digging trenches in Salisbury Plains one rainy, dreary evening. Suddenly, the rain stopped as rays of sunshine pierced through the grey clouds. A glorious sunset emerged amid a sky that was a deepening shade of purple. As the sun sank lower into the horizon, billowing mists began rolling across the plains. It was breathtaking. There and then, I just knew that I needed something "better" than my point-and-shoot camera!

For me, photography is about trying to capture the essence of the moment. I know I will never be able to record the full sense and emotions of a particular experience, but it is certainly worth trying, even if what has been captured is only a sliver of the full experience. But I have also learnt that some moments are so unique that feeling and enjoying the unfolding spectacle trumps the need to photograph it. While this is true of nature, it is even more so with people.

We pass by so many people every day that we often forget that etched in every one of these faces is a whole life's story. In a way, taking pictures of people helps to remind me that every individual matters and each has a unique story to tell. Taking photos has taught me to not just look at people, but really see them.

It has been a tremendously enriching journey, and I hope that through these few pages, I can share some of my experiences with you.

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