Sunday, August 18, 2013

The First National Day Parade

Mun Chor Seng remembers and writes about the first National Day Parade….  

“The other day while trying to tidy my photo albums, I found some local stamps issued in 1962.  Printed on the stamps were the words "National Day, June 3 1962, State of Singapore."  They were issued as commemorative stamps to celebrate our National Day on 3 June 1962 ( Photo 1).  It confirmed for the first time in print that 3 June 1962 was to be celebrated as Singapore's National Day but there was no National Day Parade (NDP) then.

The next year another set of commorative stamps bearing the words "National Day, 3rd June 1963 State of Singapore (Photo 2) was issued. A NDP was organised with the theme "Through Unity to Nationhood".  It was held at the Padang (Photo 3).  By coincidence, the same year, TV Singapura was established and "Live" TV was possible through the single 4-hour channel monochrome service then.

The NDP started in the evening with the first "LIVE" TV Transmission beginning at 5.30pm and ending at 7.20pm (Photo 4).  The Yang di-Pertuan, Yusof Ishak, and the Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, together with Assemblymen and Assemblywomen with Senior Government Officials were seated at the grandstand on the steps of City Hall to witness the parade (Photo 5).  The music for the parade was provided by the Singapore Police Band directly opposite the City Hall Padang.   After taking their eye salute march pass the City Hall, the contingents marched their way into the city streets.  The Singapore Infantry Regimen, The Uniform Groups, The Police Force (men & women), The Fire Brigade, schoolboys and schoolgirls, Workers' Brigade, Boys' Brigade and the Malay Contingent paraded with "Through Unity to Nationhood" Banner (Photo 6).  The floats that night were by the participation of Television Singapura, Chin Woo Athletics Association, Hokkien Huay Kuan etc.

Rounding up the evening parade was a long dragon dance support by live fire performers and the lion dancers from the Singapore White Crane Association ((S.P.H.D.A.A.) who later merged with the crowds into the night.

Photo 1:  1962 National Day Commemorative Stamps 4 cents & 10 cents.
Photo 2:  1963 National Day Commemorative Stamps 4 cents (HDB Flats)
Photo 3:  TV Camera Crews covering the NDP at the Padang.
Photo 4:  VIPs viewing the parade at the City Hall Grandstand.
Photo 5:  PM spoke at the First National Day Parade on 3 Jun 1963.
Photo 6: The Malay Contingent who took part in the march past.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Radio Orchestra on Caldecott Hill

 The Radio Orchestra (subsequently known as the RTS Orchestra and SBC Orchestra) must be the longest surviving support group on the Hill. It provided good music for more than 50 years for both a Radio and TV programmes. I remember them well as they appeared frequently to support our local singers. And also when we played the RTM/RTS games both in KL and Singapore, the Orchestra was  the team to appear in the exchange of cultural  shows hosted alternately by both stations.
Mun Chor Seng sent the article below to let us remember the Orchestra.

"The Radio Orchestra at it was known then was formed in 1945.  The string section was predominantly made up of the orchestra were filled by expatriate musicians.  In 1959, the Malayanairs was born, it produced music went out of the vogue.  More musicians and woodwind and brass instruments were added to provide a more versatile combination under the leader of the orchestra Mr. Dick Abel.  They provided recorded popular and classical music for transmission to all the section of Radio Singapore.  Some of the programmes featured then were:


b) RAYUN SUKMA, included mainly Malay and popular instrumental numbers for 15 to 30 minutes programmes for all the radio networks.  Three to six musicians were involved for the above programmes.

c) LATIN SIX, a programme that was mainly music from Latin America.

d) MUSICA VIVA, a classical programme mainly involved with Chamber Music, for violin, cello and piano.  During that time I heard over the English Network the complete work of Beethoven's Trio in B-Flat Major, "Archduke" Op. 97.  Such programmes were mainly broadcast over the weekend in the late evening.

e) THE MALAYANAIRS with augmentees where local Malay and Mandarin and Indian singers were involved in the 30 minutes programme recorded for the respective sections.

The Malayanairs, as the new orchestra was known, started with only 9 musicians.  It had to be augmented when the need arose to serve the four different radio networks which closed down at 11 pm nightly.

On 1 July 1960, commercial advertising was introduced on radio.  There was a higher demand for radio orchestra for sponsored programmes which brought in extra revenue and audience participation.  The radio orchestra was then lead by Mr. Gus Steyn who was performing in the Broadcasting House in Caldecott Hill as well as outside venues such as the Cultural Centre, Victoria Theatre, Singapore Badminton Hall and City Hall Steps etc.

In 1963 with the introduction of television, the same orchestra was known as the Radio & Television Singapore (RTS) Orchestra.  The musicians then were Mr. Gus Steyn (piano), Mr. Ahmad Jaafar (Saxophone), Mr. Valentine Otega (Baritone), Mr. Reynaldo Lanchica (1st Alto), Mr. Olimpio Galaura (Trumpet), Mr. Lano (Trombone), Mr. Winston Filmer (Double Bass) and Mr. Rofino Solinao (Drum).  In order to cope with the normal output for radio, it also had to bear the additional responsibility to provide additional music backing for the major live television shows.

On 19 Jan 1965, Gus Steyn gave his farewell performance as leader of the RTS Orchestra at a Chinese Variety show in Victoria Theatre.  At the end of the show, he was garlanded by members of the audience and gave a short speech.  Mr. Loo Koon Fun from the Chinese Programme Section presented a memento to Mr. Gus Steyn on behalf of the management of Radio Singapore.

In 1965, Mr. Ahmad Jaafar was the Deputy Director of Radio Orchestra.  He took over as leader in 1966 and as conductor of the orchestra from 1967 - 1982.  During that period, he established himself as a fine music arranger and composer for theme music for radio and TV productions.

When the station was converted into Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) in February 1980, the total number of musicians was increased to 31.  With those numbers, they could be divided to form two or three groups of smaller orchestras to meet the needs of the rapid bookings of the radio and television services of SBC.  Should the need arise, these musicians could be pooled together to perform as a concert orchestra.

In 1980, SBC played host to the visiting Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) Orchestra which performed successfully in Singapore.  In April 1981, the RTS Orchsestra paid a reciprocal performance in Angkasapuri in Kuala Lumpur under the title of "Puspasara" featuring the full RTS Orchestra in Concert.  According to the "Puspasara" programme, which was distributed to the audiences then, there were 31 musicians featured.  It was divided into 4 different sections, strings, brass, woodwinds and rhythm & percussion.  The SBC Orchestra then featured the following musicians: Strings: (1st Violins) - Wong Eit Sun, Braulio Bacsafra Jr, Chow Kum Leng & Quek Peng Hoon, (2nd Violin) Adams Lin Jui Fang, Yeo Teow Meng, Leslie Lim Wave Houng & Tan Kok Hwa, (Viola) - Julai Tan & Ng Boon Eng, (Cello) - Tham Chaik Kong & Patricia Wei. Brass: (1st Trumpet) - Jimmy Fong Pak Lee, (2nd Trumpet) Olimpio Galaura, (3rd Trumpet) Lit Woon Cheong, (1st Trombone) - David Chen Chao Hor, (2nd Trombone) - Tonni Wei Shi Ren, (3rd Trombone) - Louis Castillo.  Woodwinds: (1st Alto) Reynaldo Lachica, (2nd Alto) Celso Lachica, (1st Tenor) - John Lee Boon Eng, (2nd Tenor) -  Leonard St John Fernandez, (Baritone) - Valetine Ortega. Piano & Synthesizer -  (Organ) - Terrence Cyril de Souza.  (Guitar) - Danny Lim Ai Koon, (Drums) - Louis Soliano, Piano & Synthesizer -  Charles Godfrey Lazaroo, (Bass Guitar) -  Winston Malvern Filmer, (Percussion) - Tan Chin Boo. (Leader & Conductor) -  Ahmad Jaafar & (Deputy Leader) - Rufino Varella Soliano. The stage production was by Mr. Vernon Palmer and the stage management by Mr. Steven Lee with Miss Mini Fok Wei Ya as the compere. Orchestrations by: Ahmad Jaafar, Iskandar Ismail, Charles Lazaroo, John Lee & Sam Gan.

Mr. Ahmad Jaafar was honoured with the Pingat Pentadbiran Awan (The Public Administration Medal) award in 1969 and the Cultural Medallion in 1981 for his contribution to music to Singapore.  He retired in 1982 and passed away in 2009.

Rufino Soliano took over the leadership of the orchestra from 1983 till he retired in 1994.

In Jan 1987, Christopher Dainel, a graduate of Boston's Berklee College of Music was appointed as the new Director of the Orchestra.  By the early 1990s, the Radio Singapore Orchestra was disbanded.

Listed below are the photographs taken by me over the years where the Radio Singapore Orchestra took part in the following events:

Photo 1:  Inche Yusof Ishak, the Yang di-Pertuan of Singapore together with Mr. S. Rajarathnam (Minister of Culture) and Mr. John Duclos (Director of Broadcasting) met Mr. Gus Steyn and Radio Singapore Orchestra members  in the Radio Auditorium.

Photo 2: Launching of the Suara Singapura service of Radio Singapore by Inche Yusof Ishak, the Yang de-Pertuan of Singapore with the finale item of the programme on stage.

Photo 3: A sponsored radio programme held at the Singapore Badminton Hall.

Photo 4: A sponsored "Tiger Oil" Chinese radio programme held at the Cultural Centre (Fort Canning).

Photo 5: Group photo of Mr. Gus Steyn (left) with fellow musicians taken in Radio Auditorium of Broadcasting House.

Photo 6: Chinese TV Variety Programme featuring Miss S.K. Poon at the new TV Singapura Studio.

Photo 7: The Radio Orchestra took part in the TV inauguration celebrations at Caldecott Hill.

Photo 8: After the National Day Parade, the Radio Orchestra took part in the multi-cultural variety show at the City Hall Steps.

Photo 9: The National competition of the Asia Broadcasting Union (ABU) Popular Song Contest at Studio 5 of TV Singapore.

Photo 10: RTM/SBC joined production of TV variety programme which took place at Angkasapuri, KL, Malaysia. "


Friday, July 26, 2013

Murder and Kidnapping on Caldecott Hill

The tranquillity of Caldecott Hill was disturbed on two occasions
when a murder took place in 1983 and a kidnapping n 1964 .

On 23 July 1983 I saw a big crowd at the end of Andrew Road exiting
to Lornie Road.   Subsequently it was reported that a murder - robbery took
place in one of the split bungalows.Two men were involved -armed with a
rifle stolen from the SAF.
A retIred businessman, his wife and maid were killed at around 12 -2 pm.
The daughter and tutor were saved by of one of the robbers . The father's
skull was fractured and both the wife and maid were strangled.
Both men were caught -one sentence to death and the other life imprisonment..

On 5 Feb 1964 a kidnapping happened on the hill. Mr Shaw Vee Ming,
 son of Mr  Run Run Shaw and his malay driver were kidnapped by five armed
gangsters near his resident on Caldecott Hill   -along the slope leading to the broadcasting station.           
 Mr Shaw was  in his black-topped Fiat with his driver at the
wheel when the kidnappers forced his car to stop.
The kidnappers transferred them into a stolen van drove away
 along Andrew Road.
It was reported the kidnappers demanded ransom of $500,00 but released the victims after 12 days
without  the ransom being paid.    

Monday, June 24, 2013

Down memory lane -Jurong Transmitting Station

The Jurong Transmitting Station which sent out our radio services via shortwave and medium wave was situated a distance away from Caldecott Hill. In order to establish espirit de corp for the whole of the engineering team, George Ang the Chief Engineer used to get us to have a swimming carnival at the station together with the Jurong staff there. I didnt realise that this social event started much early..during the time of John Duclos the the Director of Broadcasting. Mun Chor Seng has written an interesting piece here to bring you down this memory lane. If you can try and sport the young Mun and Steven Lee among others.

Recently while going through my collection of old photographs that
began in 1958 during my career at Radio & Television Singapore (RTS)
on Caldecott Hill, I was suprised to find a set of photographs of
Jurong Transmitting Station (JTS) which was taken on 13 October 1962.
The subject was an Open House cum Swimming Competition Invitation by
(JTS) to staff of Caldecott for a friendly match.

JTS occupied an area of more than 5 acres.  It
was situated at 14 M/s in Upper Jurong Road near where the Nanyang
University Arch once stood.  JTS housed the aerial
field, the transmitting complex and quarters for the JTS and Telecoms
staff.  Both shared a common entrance.  Situated on one side was the
Telecom Station, and on the opposite side was JTS.  The transmitters
were used during the Japanese Occupation in the 40s for the AM
transmission.  Later it was used for AM/FM, Short/Medium waves
transmission until it was closed down in the 1990s.  The whole
compound was shared among the staff of Singapore Broadcasting
Corporation (SBC) and the staff of Telecom.  They joined the same
"Jurong Club" within the premises, patronised the same canteen and
shared certain living quarters. The total combined
population was about 200 over people.  The premises of JTS and
Caldecott Hill were protected areas then.

On the afternoon where these photographs (No 3 to No 11) were taken,
Mr. John Duclos, then Director of Broadcasting, lead a team of 40
staff from Caldecott Hill.  They left Broadcasting House by our own
departmental transport to meet our Jurong colleagues.  Among them were
Mr. Lee Hoong Fong (Commerical Manager - Radio), Mr. George Ang (Chief
Engineer), Vernon Palmer, Steven Lee, Harry Crabbe (Eng. Progs.),
Andrew Dumon, Baseron Jummat (Engin. Section), R. Domingo (Orch.),
Paul Thomas, Lang Ree Chin (Library) and myself (Recorded Progs.)
together with their family members to give their support.

Upon arrival, we had a friendly introduction and we were briefed on
the complex, which consisted of the following:-

a) An Admin. Office - used by EIC, supervisor and typist clerks.
b) Main Storeroom.
c) Generator Room - standby generator for emergency.
d) Sender Hall - which housed the short wave transmitter.
e) Transmitting Hall - which housed the medium wave transmitter.
f) Cooling Pool (20' X 30') approx. -  a water storage pool of cooling the
    transmitting valves.

After the tour, staff from both stations were engaged in friendly
swimming competition which took place in the Cooling Pool.  In between
the events, both staffs and competitors volunteered to put up some
hilarious items to entertain the audiences and their families.  One of
the popular and memorial events was the participants facing each other
on top of the pole over the pool trying to knock his opponent into the

The meeting ended with the presentation of prizes of appreciation by
Mrs. John Duclos to participants who took part in the various events,
which was followed by a tea reception.

The memories of AM transmission in Singapore took us through the first
transmission on JTS on 1 June 1936, it covered the whole of Malaya
Peninsular and the following wavelengths were allocated then:-
Singapore, short wave 60 KHZ & 308 KHZ, medium wave 380 KHZ & 225 KHZ.
Kuala Lumpur, short wave 49 KHZ and medium wave 432 KHZ.
Penang, short wave 455 KHZ & 366 KHZ.
Later, Kranji Transmitting Station (KTS) situated in Turut Track,
Kranji, started operation on 1 January 1994 with short wave services
transferred from JTS (Photo 1 & 2) after the closure of medium wave on
31 December 1993.”

by Mun Chor Seng

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

John Tan PengTee

John with celebrites during a recording

John Tan Peng Tee –50 years working and still going strong

John Tan joined then RTS in 1973 when black and white TV just started. At .age 70 he is still enjoy working on Caldecott Hill.. as a consultant in the technology business of MediaCorp…thanks to Mediacorp’s policy of enabling staff to work as long as they want.
Over the years he has worked in many areas of the technical support group from tv productions, outside broadcast,videotaping, training and facilities support.

What is John’s secret in working so long in one job with one company? Knowing him for more than twenty years I can say that besides enjoying his work John has three qualities which endeared him to the company and people he worked with ie hardworking, getting along with his peers and bosses and a can-do attitude.

I remember  a project that he came up outstanding in his performance whilst working with me and staff from the other creative depart May Ling, Asaad,Jeffery Goh, Remesh, Juay Thiew, Heng Tow  and the late Foo Hua Lim –the  hosting of the SEA Games in 1993. John was tireless in his efforts to provide the best support facilities to all the participating countries . His public relations with broadcasters from the region were super and gave the company a good image.

The other project is the coverage and production of Open Heart Surgery – an event from the hospital that is televised world wide . His can do attitude has made this project possible and till now this event is still being televised and handled by his team.

I spoke to John Tan a few days ago  to say I wanted to post something about him cause I see that it is not often to work  for so long and at his age he is still going strong. I said he would be a good example for seniors to be like him.  In his modest ways he said this is made possible by the many opportunities I gave him as his boss.

He said he is still healthy and will work as long as the company wants him. My Best Wishes to him..  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Beginning of Radio Singapore and TV Singapura

Radio in Singapore started on 4 Jan 1959. Soon after the PAP were swept into power and today still holds the Government ..

TV started in 15 Feb 1963. These two milestones were very significant for Singapore a both the institutions were heavily used to explain Government 's polices durings its formative years,

Both events were captured very well in SBC's documentary series  ..Diary of a Nation produced in 1988.
It is worth to take a look at the events again here on Youtube  (TV)

Watching them again brought up some old memories especially with colleagues from the studios and personalities like the late Vernon Palmer/

Please write if u wish to record your memories of these two events.

Friday, May 31, 2013