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

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