When Elaine was 19, she was pursuing a degree in business administration at the National University of Singapore. “I was very excited at the possibility of having more independence and was even hoping to stay in the dormitory, but was prevented from doing so by my protective parents. They did, however, buy me a BMW 3 Series after I got my driving licence. That was when I discovered my love for driving and for speed! The ability to control and manoeuvre around corners made me feel powerful and in control,” she shares.
Her husband Kok Weng, meanwhile, was preparing to enter the Singapore Armed Forces Officer Cadet School when he was 19. The memory of it brings back a gamut of emotions. “I was not looking forward to it as I really wanted to go abroad to study medicine. But being in the army taught me to be independent, and equipped me with the skills to communicate with people from all walks of life. That was also where I picked up a few choice words and phrases in Hokkien,” he quips.
Favourite song/band/singer that year:
Elaine: Mariah Carey’s Vision of Love and Love Takes Time.
Kok Weng: Square Rooms by Al Corley. It was a very popular disco song at “functions” – the term for house parties those days!
Life plan back then?
Elaine: I wanted to travel the world so I could meet more people and learn about different cultures.
Kok Weng: I wanted to finish army and enrol in a medical course. I aspired to be a doctor since a young age; I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my late father and uncle.
Advice for your teenage selves?
Elaine: Have more fun! I missed out on many opportunities to party as I spent a lot of time studying in the library!
Kok Weng: Take time to smell the roses, and maybe consider a profession outside of medicine? My job is rewarding, but can get really tough and the hours are long.
Is there an item of clothing or accessory from that time that you still have today?
Elaine: Chokers from Guess and Baby Phat! They were in during the ’90s, made popular by the likes of Naomi Campbell and Liv Tyler. I still like them today because I think they add an edge to an outfit, especially the chic and modern ones by Dior.
Kok Weng: I still have a pair of MC Hammer-style baggy pants by Bobby Chng (a local menswear designer). That was hip back then and I’d wear them to the disco!
Art direction: Audrey Chan
Photography: Joel Low
Hair: Christvian Goh & Zoel Tee, using Revlon Professional
Photography assistance: Alfie Pan