I was the producer of the historic 6th National Day Rally speech in 1971, when it went live for the first time.
The usual “drill” on this occasion was as follows. The Prime Minister was met on arrival at the car porch of the National Theatre. The producer followed him to the make-up room for any last minute instructions
On this historic day, I was asked by then PM Lee Kuan Yew what was on local channels from 7.30pm onwards. I told him. Then he asked me an unexpected question: What was on Malaysian channels?.
Fortunately, having worked with him on many such productions, I was prepared. I told him what was on. Then he reached into his pocket and took a cutting of the TV listings to counter-check. That is how prepared you must be when you deal with Mr Lee,
He then asked me if we could go live. I said yes. He told me to make multilingual announcements on both radio and TV by fading all programmes on air to blank. He also told me to make announcements in Malay, Tamil, Mandarin and English to ensure the audience at the National Theatre was kept informed.
I rushed to the outside broadcast van parked in the carpark to call my director, the late Mrs Wong-Lee Siok Tin.
“Please don’t ask any questions,” I told her. “PM has instructed that we fade all radio and TV programmes on air to black by making an announcement that we will go to live telecast and broadcast of the PM’s National Day Rally speech at the National Theatre.”
There was gasp at the other end. I told Mrs Wong to go ahead. Ten minutes into the live broadcast , the then Cabinet secretary Mr Wong Chooi Sen, tapped on our van door:
“Hey, Ananda, Dr Goh Keng Swee, the defence minister, wants to know if you are absolutely certain PM instructed you to broadcast live?”
Although I died a thousand deaths at that moment , I shouted a firm”yes”. After the broadcast I rushed back to meet Mr Lee in the make-up room. He asked if the broadcast went live without any technical hitches. I said it went flawlessly. He said good and I lived to tell the tale! –Ananda Perera
(The article appeared in the ST Forum dd 26 August 2008)
Peter HL Lim writing in WeekendToday said "Few, if any,would dispute that the most dramatic of the 43 annual Nationa Day Rally speecheswas the one in 1971, It was the first one telecast live........" read the exciting story of whyMinister Mentor went live in 1971 at http://www.todayonline.com/articles/274581.asp
I was then a young technical operator in the studio and occasionally did vision control in the TV OB. I had the opportunity to operate the Auto Cue and related broadcast system for VVIPs recordings. In subsequent years as an engineer-in-charge Studios and Outside Broadcasts I supported Ananda in many of his productions which included the National Day Parade, National Day Message in Television Studio Three and of course the National Rally Speeches at the Kallang Theatre. For such productions we were doubly quick and alert to ensure things go on flawlessly .....
Ananda Perera had a successful and illustrious career with the company and grew from the
ranks and file to become the Director of News.