Article by Winnie Yeoh
GEORGE TOWN: A local doctor has been featured in an article in The International New York Times for his photographs that “chronicled a vanishing world” of harbour life in Penang.
Dr Ooi Cheng Ghee, known for his vivid portraits of Little India between 1979 and 1981, was noted in the article titled “Snapshots of Globalization’s First Wave” by Sunil S. Amrith, a teacher of history at Birkbeck College, London.
The article, which was printed on Jan 11, can also be viewed on The New York Times’ website at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/11/opinion/snapshots-of-globalizations-first-wave.html?_r=0.
Dr Ooi, 70, said it was good publicity for Penang as the state was mentioned prominently in the article, which also highlighted a book on his 160 photographs published by Areca Books in 2011 – Portraits of Penang: Little India.
“It was just a mention. I’m just a hobbyist,” said Dr Ooi, who took up photography at the age of 25.
The physician, who still practises medicine at a clinic in Jelutong, said he never imagined that he could have a book published featuring his photographs.
“It is beyond what I expected. I see myself as more of a social commentator and I believe that the book has gained publicity due to the interest of heritage and demand for historical knowledge,” he said.
He still spends his free time taking photographs around Penang.
“If you are interested in the environment, there will be a lot of subjects to be captured,” added Dr Ooi.
His photographs in the book, which had also been reviewed by Trans-Asia Photography, were categorised into 12 parts, including “Places”, “Betel Nut Workers”, “Portraits”, “Trades”, “Food” and “Street Life”.
In the article, Amrith, who is the author of “Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants”, noted the rise and fall of coastal cities across South-East Asia.
He also wrote that old port cities were a picture of “quaint cosmopolitanism”, which was no wonder that they were now “looked upon with nostalgia”.
In 2008, Unesco had jointly declared Penang’s Georgetown area a World Heritage Site together with Malacca.
Article originally featured in The Star Online, 15 January 2014
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