A Singaporean humanist living in Australia has worn a strainer for his driving license, making him likely the first Singaporean to exercise his right to don pastafarian religious headgear in identity photos. This followed successful attempts in Australia, USA and Russia to do so. Dan Tang, a longtime volunteer in the Singapore humanist movement, speaks to us about his experience.
1) Introduce yourself! What do you do, and how is your life in Australia?
Dan: I’ve been volunteering for Humanist Society (Singapore) since its inception prior my arrival in Melbourne for my studies. Life is generally more pleasant and carefree here. I’m thankful to have an opportunity to learn more about life here and to make direct comparisons between the two countries. I’m concerned about the human condition: How people treat each other, how people live, and work-life balance.
2) Why did you choose to wear a strainer for a driving license photo? Did you buy the strainer yourself just for the photo, or do you actually use that to cook pasta?
Dan: I thought it’s a funny and lighthearted way to make a stand against teaching Intelligent Design and Creationism in schools in a non-offensive way. I’ve actually borrowed the strainer from my friend’s kitchen. It has been used for cooking many yummy dishes, such as making pasta dishes and draining water for vegetables.
3) How does it feel to wear the strainer?
Dan: It’s a little bit intimidating, not knowing what would happen when one pushes the boundary and with everybody’s eyes onto you. But when I did accomplish my task, I felt a sense of relief, satisfaction and elation. It really take guts to rediscover my rebel streak and make a statement.
4) How did people react to the sight of you wearing the strainer? For example, the license-giving officers and the cameraman who took your picture?
Dan: Some were just bewildered, astonished or amused at the situation. The cameraman had to refuse my request and brought me to see his operation manager. But I came prepared, showing proof that there’s already a prior precedent in the state of Victoria, that wearing a strainer as a ‘religious’ headgear is not illegal so long the headgear does not cover one’s face. In that respect, I believed I’m adequately covered and should have no problem persuading the officer to let me have my way.
5) How has your life changed since you wore the strainer? Has His Noodiness showered you with blessings?
Dan: My life is still pretty much the same, just that I now have some bragging rights that I’m a member of the Church of Flying Spaghetti Monster supporting its deeds.
6) Would you encourage other followers of His Noodiness to wear the strainer? Why is it important?
Dan: Absolutely. If there’s an opportunity for you to do so in Singapore, why not. After all, I believe that Singapore is a secular state and religion are both respected and protected. The founding ideals of the Church of FSM is noble and worth protecting, so go forth and spread the idea! Ramen.