Retired Perak headmaster promotes Chinese culture, traditional games online amid Covid-19

At 65-year-old, retired headmaster Wee Ong Chin does his part to promote Chinese culture and traditional games. — Picture by Farhan Najib
At 65-year-old, retired headmaster Wee Ong Chin does his part to promote Chinese culture and traditional games. — Picture by Farhan Najib

SITIAWAN, June 18 — Retired headmaster Wee Ong Chin has been showcasing Chinese culture and traditional games at fundraising events for over three decades.

For the 66-year-old, it was his way to ensure its continuity.

Starting out in 1986, Wee initially received five invites to perform.

This gradually increased to 60 performances annually until the enforcement of the movement control order (MCO) in March because of the Covid-19 pandemic and all invites stopped.

To keep his followers updated, Wee took to his Facebook page and shared videos of himself singing traditional songs and making traditional toys.

Speaking to Malay Mail, Wee said he took the videos himself before posting it on his Facebook.

“I used the meitu application for the video. It was my first time taking a video and posting on social media,” said the father of five, adding that due to MCO, he could not meet his followers personally.

“I could still meet them virtually.”

Wee said it gave him great joy to be able to share the Chinese culture and games with people.

“I get more invites to perform now that I have retired,” said Wee, adding that his peak periods were during Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival.

Annually, Wee will also visit either Sabah or Sarawak to perform of which the transport and accommodation is provided by the organiser.

The furthest his performance has taken him was Taiwan and Iran which he travelled to in 1986 and 2003 respectively.

Retired headmaster Wee Ong Chin’s home at Sitiawan doubles up as his workshop where he prepares toys and souvenirs to be given out when he performs at charity events. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Retired headmaster Wee Ong Chin’s home at Sitiawan doubles up as his workshop where he prepares toys and souvenirs to be given out when he performs at charity events. — Picture by Farhan Najib

Wee’s love affair with Chinese culture and traditional games began in 1986 when he was teaching the Living Skills subject at school.

“As part of the programme, we needed to think of traditional games. That was not a problem as Malaysia being a multicultural country has different types of games,” he added.

Wee also picked up other games during exchange programmes organised by the Education Ministry for teachers.

As he does not charge to perform, which can take Wee up to six hours, costs are needed to be kept to a bare minimum.

Souvenirs given out to participants who take part in Wee’s traditional games like bamboo dance and top spinning are made from recycled items.

When performing, he brings along wooden pistols, air horns and key chains that are made at his home workshop.

Retired headmaster Wee Ong Chin’s home at Sitiawan doubles up as his workshop where he prepares toys and souvenirs to be given out when he performs at charity events. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Retired headmaster Wee Ong Chin’s home at Sitiawan doubles up as his workshop where he prepares toys and souvenirs to be given out when he performs at charity events. — Picture by Farhan Najib

Citing the wooden pistol as an example, Wee said it was made using pine wood pellet from a Batu Gajah factory.

The pellet is also used to make key chains.

As for the air horn, Wee says he uses recycled plastic milk bottles and balloons.

“Normally, when I get invites to perform, I need three days to prepare the items,” he said, adding that he brings about 50 sets of wooden pistols, air horns and key chains to be given out at each event.

Asked how long he plans to continue performing, Wee said he would do so as long as he was able to.

“Not everything can be measured using ringgit and sen. In my years of performing, I learn that if you are willing to give out, there are bound to be returns,” he added, noting that he also gains from mutual sharing with participants during his performances.

A miniature clog key chain made from recycled wood and plastic collected from unwanted clogs given by mosques. Wee gives out these key chains as souvenirs when he performs at fund raising activities. — Picture by Farhan Najib
A miniature clog key chain made from recycled wood and plastic collected from unwanted clogs given by mosques. Wee gives out these key chains as souvenirs when he performs at fund raising activities. — Picture by Farhan Najib

Despite the recovery MCO, Wee said he has yet to receive any invites to perform.

“I am raring to go and perform,” he said, adding that he had made all necessary preparations to perform such as making over 1,000 toy pistols.

Those interested to get Wee to perform at their fundraising events can call or Whatsapp him (012-5330530).

He can also be contacted via his Facebook Pangkor Wee.

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