Thomas Ong says he would not have made it in China's show business

Thomas Ong had left and returned to Mediacorp several times over the years. PHOTO: THOMASONG17/INSTAGRAM

SINGAPORE - Former actor-host Thomas Ong, who announced his retirement last year (2020), has opened up about why he did not further his acting career in the lucrative China market.

The 52-year-old businessman, who left and returned to Mediacorp several times over the years, posted on Instagram on Monday (Oct 4). Whenever he was asked that question, he said he would just smile and reply: "Too old. Too late. All the money has been earned by other people."

However, he added that the real reason was a bit more complicated.

About 20 years ago, he used to visit China regularly for his corporate-gift business and got to know people in the entertainment industry.

The former leading man in local dramas also saw first-hand how foreign artistes, such as those from Taiwan and Hong Kong, had to network and promote themselves aggressively at gatherings.

"First of all, you have to understand that being invited to attend these dinners or karaoke (parties), that was an opportunity you have to make use of," he said.

"Maybe you're a great drinker that everyone admires. Or maybe you're really good at singing and dancing to showcase your talents. If you know how to share entertainment gossip that leaves everyone cracking up with laughter, then congratulations to you, you'll have a promising future."

He added that, in comparison, Singapore's entertainment world was "much more innocent".

"If you wish to survive in a world where 'dragons' and 'snakes' coexist and there is an abundance of talented people, you have to have the guts to go all in. Luck, benefactors, strength, attitude and god-given talent - you need all of these," he wrote.

He had been invited to such parties by an investor friend, but concluded that the scene was not for him.

He said: "After some self-analysis at that time, young Thomas thought about it and felt like he was lacking in everything. So he decided to keep a low profile and just be a guest of his investor friend."

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