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Grateful for strong support


Always there: Khaw with Ooi at home in Petaling Jaya.

Always there: Khaw with Ooi at home in Petaling Jaya.

PETALING JAYA: You wouldn’t think the modest double-storey terraced home in Taman SEA houses a treasured pianist-composer.

Datuk Ooi Eow Jin, who was struck with Alzheimer’s in 2015, lives there with his loving wife Datin Elaine Khaw, and their ailing son, 54-year-old son Raymond, who has been living with a brain tumour for 40 years and is now blind.

The house is cramped as the li­ving room contains a reclining chair and two beds for Ooi and his son, who spend most of their days here.

Khaw and a caregiver tend to the two men all day, every day. The housewife doesn’t earn an income and manages the household on her own.

Despite the heavy load on her shoulders, Khaw is a breath of fresh air, smiling, and happy to talk to anyone.

Their home is a warm one too, with pictures of Khaw in her younger days, and the couple’s sons, Raymond and his late brother as children, adorning the walls.

Sadly, there is no music playing, as Khaw said their radio is broken, and she hasn’t had the means to replace it.

Earlier this week, a social media post about how Khaw is selling Chinese New Year cookies to cope with the cost of caring for Ooi and Raymond went viral.

The 78-year-old has since been inundated by calls and messages from well-wishers wanting to help.

Retiree Balachandran Pillai buying cookies from Elain Khaw who is raising funds to cope with the cost of caring for her husband Ooi Eow Jin, a retired composer
Handing cookies to Balachandran.

Khaw said she is very grateful and touched by the outpouring of support and donations from well-wishers, many of whom have enjoyed the music of her husband over the years.

“We are very lucky. I have received hundreds of phone calls and messages and I sometimes don’t know how to handle all of them as I am on my own trying to care for my husband and my son,” she said at home yesterday.

Khaw has been selling Chinese New Year cookies for the past 25 years but the response has been overwhelming since the post about her cookies and her husband went viral a few days ago.

“There have been many messa­ges of support and a few who have not said nice things. But I don’t pay attention to those posts,” she said, referring to some parties who have questioned the authenticity of her predicament.

Those who have not been able to reach Khaw on her phone have simply shown up at her home in Petaling Jaya to buy her cookies or just give her a donation.

“I used to listen to this gentleman (Ooi) play the piano at the Regent Hotel in Kuala Lumpur in the 1980s.

“I thought I could do a bit to help him by buying cookies from his wife,” said retiree Balachandran Pillai who resides in Petaling Jaya.

Khaw is the sole caregiver for Ooi and their son.

Her monthly expenditure often runs up to RM6,000 and is mostly funded by public donations, friends and good Samaritans.

“There is only so much we can do, but somehow God always provides,” said an optimistic Khaw.

Those who want to help Khaw can go to the Reaching Out group at facebook.com/groups/reachluar.

Related story:

Musicians eager to help composer with Alzheimer’s

Ooi Eow Jin , Pianist , Elain Khaw

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