Arts & CultureLIFESTYLE

Never Too Late or Too Old to Reach International Stardom


By Raja Yasmin Raja Yusof

The interview session with Tan Sri Dr Fong Chan Onn on April 27 was truly a revelation; not to mention humbling. As we grow older, we lose the characteristics that made us so innocent and virtuous. That childlike (not to be confused with childish) innocence.

But Tan Sri exudes such innocence that I gathered has partly contributed to his quantum leap to international recognition!

He reflected how he dived into photography and how he had to learn from people half his age or went back to college to learn new stuff. He is always awe-inspired by the world around him. He looks for the extraordinary within the ordinary. As we grow, we tend to lose this sense of wonder. If we are not humble about our own being, chances are we will cease to grow any further.

He showed us, through images captured via his lenses, that there are people in this world who act with no ulterior motive and honestly do want to see humanity progress. Those who think they know everything are doomed to a life of ignorance. There is always more to know, and always room to grow.

He did capture hardship and challenges. But he also chose to depict and portray promises and hopes. When the going gets tough, look for the small victories.

One of the images that I was particularly drawn to was titled ‘Roller Coaster’. This image depicts an abandoned jetty in Port Dickson. It conveys the notion of the ups and downs of man’s life journey in search of success. It won Tan Sri Fong Chan Onn a Gold Award from the UK Societies of Photographers in 2018.

This image tugged at my heart for many reasons. Life is not always rosy and easy. Some days you feel the clouds are falling on you hard and mercilessly. And on other days, the storms are wreaking unforgiving havoc with your sanity. And yet, you hold your head high and follow the light. Tan Sri’s images evoke thought-provoking notions. But there is always positivity, promises and hopes embedded in each.

He has found his second calling. Not many are gifted with such an opportunity. It was truly an honour being in conversation with him.

Tan Sri Dr Fong Chan Onn was the guest speaker at Sharpened Word on April 27 @ 22 Hale Street, Ipoh. There was an exhibition showcasing his award-winning photos at the same venue from April 27-28. For more information log on to word.

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