I was born in 1947. That makes me 70 years old now. I became hearing-impaired in 2004 due to the side-effect of the drugs that I took for hypertension. When I became deaf I had to stop working in the advertising industry that I was attached to from the 1970’s.
In 2005, I started working as a portrait-artist and offered my service to passers-by at the road-side: first at the Bukit Bintang Walk area in Kuala Lumpur, then I moved to the Batu Ferringhi night market area in Penang. Throughout all this time (around 12 years), I have been constantly harassed by opportunistic and manipulative ‘bad-hats’. They ranged from gangsters, thugs to self-styled mini ‘taikos’ as in the B. F. night market. I persevered and resisted them with forbearance and courage. Despite my advanced age, I am still strong in my body and mind. This is due to my strong spiritual belief and self-discipline. I do not drink excessively, gamble, smoke or do drugs. I am also a vegan.
In my line of work, I have to constantly work till past mid-night. Even right through till the morning hours. Most of my customers are tourists with limited time. The jobs they commissioned have to be delivered before they check out the following day. The odd and long working hours have taken a toll on my health. Last week, I managed to avert a major stroke attack by seeking medical attention immediaely when I was inflicted with the symptoms.
This traumatic incident have made me decide to change. I will stop working by the road-side and move towards avoiding an environment that may give rise to future stroke attacks. I wish to concentrate on doing fine art at my own pace and leisure and not be pressured by the demands of customers.
In order to achieve my objective, I am planning to hold an exhibition to display and sell the many past works that I have done. The money that I collect will be able to sustain me and help me to continue spending time creating art without endangering my health. I am very confident that I will succeed because my philosophy towards life do not compromise or erode the principles necessary for self-elevation. It is as follows:
1. I shall always strive to better myself no matter how hard or advanced my age is.
2. I shall never compromise or give in to any corrupting or manipulative influences of others.
3. I will produce works of art that I would put my best effort and thoughts to create and will not be satisfied unless they meet up with the highest standards that I have imposed on myself.
In order that I may be able to realize the objectives that I have outlined here, I would need to appeal for support from everyone. From art lovers, patrons to sponsors. I cannot achieve them on my own alone.
(Terrence) Ong Hean Tooi