Monday, September 2, 2019

ON AIR BOOK EVENT AT Kinokuniya

Event Date:  Sat 28 September 2019 Time: 2 pm -3 pm
Place: Kinokuniya Takeshimaya, Negee Ann City


Sunday, July 21, 2019

Raymon Huang on Mrs Wong-Lee at On Air Book Launch

Dedication of ON AIR book to the Late Mrs Wong Lee Siok Tin
A speech by Raymon Huang at the ON AIR book launch at Mediacorp Campus on 2 July 2019


On this occasion of the official launching of the COT’s book - ON AIR Untold stories from Caldecott Hill-, I have been given the privilege, the honour of making a short statement about the late Mrs Wong-Lee Siok Tin, to whom the book is dedicated.
For me, to me, Mrs Wong-Lee was a “three-in-one” person- a good friend;brilliant fellow undergraduate; and a good boss. Indeed that was how our relationship was. So I would refer her as “Siok Tin”.
I first met Siok Tin when she was 8 years old. This was in 1945, in Endau, Johore. It was during the Japanese Occupation. It was at a resettlement village colourfully called “New Sayonan” or New Singapore. I was a fishmonger. Siok Tin’s father was the most loyal customer of mine. We became good friends.
WWII ended. Siok Tin went back to school at Raffles Girls’ School and I at Raffles Institution. We lost contact. But as fate would have it ,our paths crossed again. We were fellow undergraduates at Raffles College (later renamed the University of Malaya in Singapore). We were in the same Philosophy class in1959. She was some 12 years younger than me. I was on a MOE scholarship after teaching for 9  years. And later, in 1971, our paths crossed again – when I joined broadcasting in 1971. She was my boss.
During my stint at broadcasting, the moments I remembered most were when we became SBC.
During the Monday morning meetings with heads of department, she showed her mettle and personality. She was a leader who led by example. Siok Tin was firm, yet friendly, she was unobtrusive, yet persuasive, she was meticulous yet flexible. Even when there were disagreements, she would win us over. She was never officious.
An example:she would ask me to go to her office to have a cup of tea., when she would talk about her Endau days; my teachingdays;my film censorship days; and so on.
Siok Tin was brilliant in every way- as a student, as a undergraduate, and as a broadcasting person.She was very articulate. She spoke “Queen’s English”;but without airs! Her credentials speak for themselves. In 1955 she was the winner of Rortary Public Speaking Contest. She was a teacher then. She often accompanied PM Lee Kuan Yew on his overseas trips. He trusted her a lot.
Sadly she passed on in 1993. But the excellent broadcasting legacy she left behind was not forgotten. In 2017 Siok Tin was inducted as an Honoree into the 4th Singapore Women Hall of Fame.
To me, Mrs Wong-Lee was “Mrs Broadcasting”.
“This book is dedicated to Mrs Wong-Lee Siok Tin who devoted her life to the profession of broadcasting in Singapore. Her tireless devotion and critical instincts at the helm of the national broadcasting station led the station through the early and difficult times of nationhood’
We have with us today her daughter, Karen. I would invite her to come up here to receive a copy of “ON AIR” dedicated to her late mother.





Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Comments by Choo Lian Liang on the ON AIR book

Comments by Choo Lian Liang on the ON AIR book
She wrote Chapter 22 -Chinese Current Affairs:My 30 years in Broadcasting

加利谷山集体记忆 亮亮
一群加利谷山上的退休同事,一日在一酒肆聚餐聊天,吃着喝着有人说为什么不出
版一本书来记录各自曾拥有过的青春年华,以及在山上的点滴往事?凭着三分酒意和七分
豪情,几位资深媒体人登高一呼,众人响应。一年多的时间,一本525页的名为“On Air”的
图文并茂大书面世了。
47位作者51篇回忆录,并凑的是一幅新加坡广播电视事业的发展史。广播如何从
无到有,电视如何一步一脚印地发展,其中多少青春激情,多少美梦成真,多少悲欢离合
,尽在字里行间。书的前页注明此书要献给加利谷山备受尊敬的第一任台长黄李淑珍女士
,在她之后的几位领军人物,如郑东发先生和李金富先生都没有被老同事们所忘记。
新加坡的广播事业始于1936年,一个名为英属马来亚广播公司(BMBC)的私人机
构开始在加利谷山广播;1941年,这个公司被海峡殖民地政府和英国政府收购,成为马
来亚广播公司(MBC),主要播音室设在乌节路的国泰大厦。1942至1945年日本占领时期
,电台改名“昭南广播公司”。1946年新加坡是马来联邦的一员时,这个电台是马来亚电台
的一部分。50年代初,国泰大厦的设施搬迁到加利谷山上的新录音棚。1959年,新加坡
自治,电台改名新加坡广播电台。
1963年电视启播,最早的两个频道是第5和第8波道。1965年,新马分家,电台和
电视台改名为新加坡广播电视台(RTS),隶属当时的文化部。
我是在60年代末期与RTS结缘,接着当上兼职广播员。1971年大学毕业后参加了一
场为期两天半的助理编导考试,同一个考场里最后进入RTS还有另外三位南大生:李明芬
,陈汉和黄廷益。
70年代之后加利谷山上的变化和发展,“On Air”里有不少篇章,很自然的,年代越
早的篇幅越少。马来亚电台时期本地有哪些风云人物?他们做过些什么经典节目?依稀记
得冯仲汉大哥曾经说起点点滴滴,如今冯老大已经作古,知道当年事的人恐怕不多了。
浏览大书的目录,中文节目制作人的回忆属于少数。过去几十年,第三广播网,第
8波道的综艺节目和戏剧节目,都曾拥有广大的听众和观众,为华语社群提供娱乐和资讯
,或许基于时间紧迫,这本书的编辑组未能征集到更多的稿件。
“On Air”是一个开始,希望它抛砖引玉,激励更多退休媒体人写下往事,丰富我们
的集体记忆。

Above by courtesy of Choo Lian Liang

Monday, July 15, 2019

On Air Public Book Launch 13 July 2019

Public book launch of ON AIR Untold Stories from Caldecott Hill
13 July 2019 at Central Public Library


Moses Lim aka Tan Ah Teck and his family of Under One Roof
Watch video courtesy from CNA

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/i-am-going-to-tell-you-a-story-caldecott-hill-s-pioneer-11718544

More than a 100 members of public attended the book launch at the Central Library.  The event was hosted by Brian Richmond with participation by cast of the Under One Roof Team , Moses Lim, Koh Chieng Mun, Vanetta Lopez, Daisy Irani and Nicholas Lee . Wong Li Lin was present to share her stories on Triple Nine and other memories on Caldecott Hill.
Mun Chor Seng who contributed most of the photos in the ON AIR book and one of the team members gave a presentation of some rare pictures of Old Singapore. He is producing his next book working title Those Were the Days, a photo book of Old Singapore.
(The book team members are Philip Tay, Horace Wee, Belinda Sunshine, Mun Chor Seng, Raymond Fernandexzand Joan Chee)

Please email me at tay.philip@gmail.com if you wish to share your thoughts about the ON AIR book. TQ.


Saturday, July 13, 2019

Book Launch 2 July at Mediacorp Campus


Book Launch of ON AIR Untold Stories from Caldecott Hill at Mediacorp Campus One Stars Avenue 2 July 2019

Group photo at the private book launch at Mediacorp 2 July 2019
video from CNA

               https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCB-Hq_d6c4

Saturday, July 6, 2019

BOOK Launch

Book title: ON AIR Untold stories from Caldecott Hill


Re: My speech at the ON AIR book launch 2 July 2019 at Mediacorp Campus

Thank you Susan.(Emcee for the event) Mr George Yeo thank you for joining us today. Friends and ex colleagues I am very glad to see you all . It brings back a lot of warm memories. Let me first begin by answering the question Why you 6 fellas (Joan Chee, Raymond Fernandez, Mun Chor Seng, Horace Wee, Philip Tay) got out of your retirement comfort zone to produce this ON AIR book..
At the beginning of 2018 we had a Caldecott Old Timers gathering,our usual annual gathering to chit chat and merry making. This time at Kok Ying Poh’s Growlers Bar at MacPherson. In the course of the chit chatting Belinda Sunshine popped up the idea of sharing our memories and work experiences on the Hill. She said we must have over 2000 years of recollections among us  that we could share with the Singapore public. George Favacho than quipped “Better do it quickly. Time is running out!”. Mun Chor Seng who was on the same table turned to me and said Tay we could do it together. I run a blog called Memories of Caldecott Hill and Mun has more that 10,000 photos about broadcasting and old Singapore. Mun contributes to the Singapore Memory project frequently .
He said we should able to produce a book with materials from the two blogs. Maybe it is time to do something, retirement life is getting boring. I retired 10 years ago and spend the first 5 years travelling and did I wanted to do . After that it is now mainly looking after grandchildren. I thought that it would be good to record our memories which then can be found in homes and libraries and as a legacy to our grandchildren and future generations. They would know we contributors to this project,  how we were involved in nation building and entertaining the Singapore Public. So I agree to take up the challenge  to lead the team. It is basically  a history of broadcasting reference book on the history of national broadcasting being told personally by people who were there in a building  on the Hill, it being a protected place where very few knew what was happening inside.  Now they know.
We met at Thomson Plaza Food to discuss how to proceed. We were not optimistic. Who would want to get out of their comfort zone and write? We had to think of a strategy.
First I got hold of Raymon Huang. He was very enthusiastic. Almost immediately he sent me three scripts one on Mrs Wong Lee Siok Tin, the second on the Japanese occupation of Caldecott Hill running the station Radio Syonan and third the Days he had heart attacks.. We accepted two scripts . I showed the scripts to Lee Kim Tian and Sim Choon Hin. They were excited and said if Raymon could do it, we can too. Kim Tian contributed a chapter. Here is the News and recounted his experience the day he almost got killed by a Malaysian soldier in the stormy period while coming to work when we were in Malaysia. And how he covered the news on overseas trips with the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. And Mr Sim wrote , Down memory lane, how he built up a transmission network for radio and television broadcasts all over Singapore
What was  more surprising was, when I approached to top gov leaders Mr Cheng Tong Fatt and Mr Moses Lee to write, knowing that I have little chance of succeeding because top civil servants have secrets and would normally keep to themselves. Surprisingly they agreed to contribute, Mr Cheng on the Corporatisation of RTS and the rise of Chinese Drama and Mr Lee on the Privatistion of SBC, both of them built the foundation of Mediacorp to what it is today.
What is more inspiring is when I emailed to Mr George Yeo for a FOREWORD,  he immediately replied Dear Philip, it is my honour to write a Foreword for the book. It is an important book. Within a week, he sent me the most beautiful foreword I have ever read. I showed it to Kenneth Liang, Tai Ho, Chan Heng Wing, May Ling and others and they agreed it is a great foreword …all agreed to contribute to the book.  That is why Mr Yeo s name is in the front of the book.( He is sort of anchor tenant for the book) I recommend you to read it first before the content page! It encapsulated a important part of the history of broadcasting when he was Minister of Information and the Arts. Full of quotable quotes and memories.  To conclude I would lke to quote a sentence from his Foreword
Quote: “The history of National Broadcasting  in Singapore is inseparable from the history of independent Singapore Unquote. How true this is…after reading the book you will realise why we contributors and staff on Caldecott Hill are very proud and glad that we play a role in national building, entertaining the public and independent Singapore! Thank you. And with your permission Horace Wee one of the Team members will now say a few words.

Speech by Horace Wee




Horace’s Speech

For those who don’t know me, I am Horace Wee and was with the Orchestra during the time the station was known as RTS. I am a multi-instrumentalist and that probably was the result of studying music arrangement, where it was necessary to understand how each instrument played. You can read more in the chapters I have written for the book on the RTS Orchestra and about two musicians Ahmad Jaafar and Rufino Soliano. These two subsequently became leaders of the orchestra.

The book has 51 essays written by about 70 Caldecott Old Timers most of whom are here today. There are a few who have passed on namely Steven Lee, Ee Boon Lee, Chandramohan, Ananda Perera, Joseph Seah, Vernon Palmer, Rufino Soliano, Ahmad Jaafar and Mrs. Wong-Lee Siok Tin.
We are very glad that some of their relatives are here today to grace the launch of this On Air book. Let us welcome;
Mina Ee, wife of Ee Boon Lee.
Brian and Amy Lee, son and wife of Steven Lee. Brian, you are now looking more like your dad.
Nirmala and Arjuna, wife and the son of Chandramohan.
Kathleen daughter of Rufino Soliano, my friend and colleague. I have known Kathleen since she was a little girl.
And Karen Wong daughter of Mrs Wong Lee Siok Tin .

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. George Yeo for the foreword and all the authors who contributed their rich memories. Thanks also to the Ministry and to Mdm. Yeong for approving some of the photos of Mr Lee Kuan Yew in the book. Most of all thank you Mediacorp for your strong support and hosting of this event.
Finally thank you Marshall-Cavendish for publishing the book. It will be sold at book stores at $40 You can buy the book at a special discount for Mediacorp staff at $30 over there at the counter.
Enjoy reading the book.
Thank you


Friday, June 7, 2019

New Book-ON AIR

INTRODUCTION to new book –ON AIR Untold Stories from Caldecott Hill
(The book is dedicated to Mrs Wong-Lee Siok Tin former Director of RTS and General Manager of the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation)



The story of  Singapore Broadcasting on Caldecott Hill is a nostalgic story recollected by the memories of former staff. Most have retired and over seventy years old. They pen 51 chapters to share with others their broadcasting experience and serve as a record of Singapore’s media heritage.
It all began in 1936, on a hill in the north eastern part of Singapore. The hill is called Caldecott Hill, after Sir  Andrew Caldecott Governor a British colonial administrator. Except for a few roads John Road, Olive Road, Andrew Road, named after his family, there were good class bungalows surrounded by a large vegetation.  Among this at its highest point, almost at the centre, the British built the first broadcasting station - radio studios and transmitter . The transmitter mast was about 50m  high and together with the height of the hill  enabled  radio broadcast to the residents of Singapore. The station was managed by a private company called the British Malayan Broadcasting Company.  When the station expanded it had to rent space from Loke Wan Tho at Cathay Building where additional studios were built.
And this station grew up to Radio and TV Singapore a department of the Ministry of Culture , to Singapore Broadcasting Corporation, Singapore International Media and now MediaCorp after 82 years of trials and tribulations. For a brief period in its history 1942 -1945 Caldecott Hill and Cathay Building were occupied by the Japanese when the war broke out.
Besides news and current affairs, the broadcasting business is also show business with lots of creativity and innovations. Over the years talent sprouted, ideas flourished and actions and more actions were the order of the day. For a period after the war in the 2001-2005, the dominant broadcaster faced the onslaught of a TV competition from a newspaper group. But undaunted it won the battle and later remained the only dominant broadcaster to this day.
It is said the success on the Hill is due to a mighty dragon that resides on the hill. The hill has metal and wood elements, This combination helped the success of the lone broadcaster. The dragon resided there since the founding of our nation. It chose the location because of the abundance of the elements especially water at the nearby McRitchie Reservoir. Each day it would spread out and flew to the water catchment and partook of the water. Satisfied and contented, it brought success and achievements to station there.
The stories we are about to unfold are stories from the hearts and minds of those who toiled and sweat for years to bring news and entertainment to the homes. They are stories never told before.
The chapters that followed are divided into eight groups namely Early Years (1-4), The Bosses (5-8),  Radio Making Waves (9-14), News and Current Affairs Making You Think (15-24), TV Entertainment Shows Making You Laugh and Cry (25 -31), New Frontiers (32-39),  Behind the Camera (40 -49) and Profiles & Glimpses (50 -51).
We kicked off the book with a beautiful foreword by George Yeo former Minister of Information and the Arts. His message encapsulated the interesting period of broadcasting on the Hill. His writing is full of quotable quotes and I recommend you read it first before reading other parts of the book. This is one quote I like: “The history of national broadcasting in Singapore is inseparable from the history of independent Singapore” Those working on the Hill are proud and glad they played a role in nation-building and independent Singapore.
Chapter 1 by  the late Joseph Seah tells  a gripping story of how he worked under the Japanese during the war. They were all over Caldecott Hill operating the radio stations including the Japanese radio, Radio Syonan Hoso Kyoku. He tells the story of the attack on the Hill in 1942 and how they quickly repaired the transmitters destroyed by the withdrawing British soldiers. And three years later they had the satisfaction of taking the guns from the Japanese soldiers.
We captured the early years in Chapter 2 with the recollections of Vernon Palmer. He recounted his experience in recording the Japanese Surrender signing ceremony at City Hall. He talked about the studios at Cathay Building where Lord Mount Batten and his Generals had their offices there. Known as Mr Broadcaster Vernon had an enriching career on the Hill.
The exciting story of what happened in the TV production gallery on the day where Lee Kuan Yew cried in the midst of a news conference in 1965 on the separation with Malaysia is told by Vernon Martinus in Chapter 3. He went on to talk about his production of the first National Day Parade held at the Padang.
This is followed by chapter 4, the recollections of Maureen Liew. A colourful character, Maureen remembers her production of childrens’ concerts at the Istana and National Day Rallies. She talks about experience running the radio and TV departments – how she managed the mega shows outdoor and the many popular studio programmes that came under her charge. She conceptualized the first night entertainment show of the National Day Parade in 1986. To this day, the night segment of the Parade is still popular and  has kept homes entertained.
It is not often that top civil servants tell their stories. Chapter 6 by Cheng Tong Fatt and Chapter 7 Moses Lee; both were top bosses of the station on the Hill and they tell the interesting stories how they transform the broadcasting station to what it is today. From Government held Department of Broadcasting under the Ministry of Culture to Corporatisation to SBC and Privatisation to Television Corporation of Singapore, Radio and Television Twelve(under holding company Singapore International Media)
Chapter 5 is a vivid description by Raymon T H Huang on Mrs Wong-Lee Siok Tin starting from the Japanese Occupation, his work with Film Censorship Board and Singapore Tourist Promotion Board to his exciting experience of working in top management positions on the Hill .
Chapter 8 From Banker to Broadcaster is the story of Ernest Wong – how he managed MediaCorp as CEO and the competition with SPH.
The section on Radio Making Waves is told by Lucy Leong, Belinda Yeo, Horace and S P Panneerselvam. Don’t miss the chapter on Excuse me, you want to be a DJ and the story of the RTS Orchestra.
Chapter  15 and 16 are about the News Scene – on the work life of two popular newsmen, Ee Boon Lee and Lee Kim Tian. If you wish to know about life working as a news journalist , read Kim Tian ‘s account of his adventure in the news department. Chapter 17 is story by Mushahid Ali of his exciting journalist adventure whilst covering the Malaysian Parliament when Singapore was in Malaysia.
Chapter 15 -24 are stories from Current Affairs producers Chan Heng Wing, Loong May Ling, Zainab Rahim, Joan Chee, Amy Chua , Kenneth Liang and Choo Lian Liang. The stories how they produced current affairs documentaries which undoubtly helped to build Singapore during the stormy years.
Life as a TV producer is penned by Suhaimi Jais  in Chapter 29, I came I saw I shot, followed by George Favacho recollections of his job as sports commentator and TV Producer. Although he had a short stay on the Hill, Larry Lai recounted his memories of shows such as Talentime and the Rado Show together with on-air personalities Brian Richmond and Tan Hock Lye.
The story of Chinese drama is also being told by Chua Swan in Chapter 27 followed by Daisy Irani Subaiah  talking about her career with SBC and her role as Daisy in the popular TV situation comedy all Under One Roof. A broadcast engineer Lau Hing Tung has his say in chapter 31 on how he buildup the facilities for Singapore Television Twelve under CEO Sandra Buenaventura.
In chapter 28, Kenneth Liang narrated his interesting recollections of how he returned to Caldecott Hil after a stint with EDB and developed the English Entertainment programmes of Channel 5.
There is never a complacent moment on the Hill. To meet new challenges, the station had to be innovative and on the move to capture attention of the people and also to earn revenue. Chapter 32-39 capture the new frontier of broadcasting. Going international, the success story of Channel NewsAsia is told vividly by Woon Tai Ho. PN Balji tells his gripping story of the painful competition with SPH. Theatre of the Mind, an adventure into movie making is well narrated by Daniel Yun. Read the ups and downs of his experience in Chapter 37.  Michael Chiang gave an interesting account of the inside stories of 8 days – a ever popular publication of radio and TV listing and write ups. (Past copies of 8 days are available at the National Central Library).
The painful and exciting tale of the competition with MediaCorp is narrated in Chapter 35 by Anthony Chia the battle fought between MediaCorp and SPH –owned Mediaworks. These stories are penned with much thought and research as well as materials from the competitors.
The planning and implementation of a new TV Complex at One Stars Avenue is written in detail by Yeo Kim Pow engineer-in-charge of the mega project to move from Caldecott Hill to Fusion Polis, the location of  the headquarters of IMDA (Chapter 39)
The back room boys i.e. the engineers, editors , camermen and many more also write their short memoirs on how they support the producers . Ujagar Singh, Sim Choon Hin, Mun Chor Seng and Francis Chowduries narrated their stories on the technical aspects of broadcasting. And Mun Chor Seng recalled his work experience in the Camera and Sound department. Mun painstakingly took milestone photographs during the early period of broadcasting which proved to be useful in the making of this book. More than 300 photos in thi book are attributed to him. In Chapter 43 readers will learn of how Radio pioneers digital, as told by Assad Sameer. Mock Pak Lum CEO of Technologies gave an account of disruptions to technologies on the Hill with the dawn of the Internet. He tells how the broadcasting station cope with the onslaught of the New Media. Mr Param Singh writes rewarding experience both in the Administrative and in SBC, recounting how he helped to corporatize RTS to SBC. The importance of Training is highlighted by Dr Paul Seow who had an illustrious carrer in the Ministry of Education and later as Head of Training on the Hill. What the audience can watch or not is told by David Christie who spent much of his career in TV Censorhip on the Hill. Chief Engineer Philip Tay Joo Thong tells his story in the long chapter 49.
To make the book complete as possible, the last two chapters Chapter 50 and 51 is an attempt to reveal some of the iconic and well-known personalities on the Hill. It is not exhaustive and they are included as long as some old timers recognized their contributions and hard work making broadcasting to the people a successful story from Caldecott Hill.
This book contains more than 200 photographs, mostly from the collection of Mun Chor Seng. He has
archived more than 10,000 pictures of early broadcasting and Singapore from the 50s. If there is any interest in photographs in his collections, please email him at munchorseng@gmail.com
Enjoy reading this book. If you have any views please email to tay.philip@gmail.com