A Study of the 1960s Singaporean Official Film Series Berita Singapura''

  • AITKEN, Ian (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


This project will research the 'Berita Singapura' ('Singapore News') documentary film series produced by the Singapore Ministry of Culture and Cathay Film Services between January 1963 and October 1969. The 'Berita Singapura' series comprises eighty-six short 16mm films held at the Audiovisual Collection of the National Archives of Singapore (NAS). The series was shown on TV Singapura, and in cinemas in Singapore, Malaysia, Borneo and the UK, during the 1960s.

In addition to the films, this project will also research written primary documents related to 'Berita Singapura' produced within the Ministry of Culture Publicity Division and Film Sub-Committee; the Singapore Broadcasting Division; the Singapore Film Unit and TV Film Unit, and the Ministry of Finance. The archives of the NAS Oral History Collection, Cathay Organization, current Singapore broadcasting station MediaCorp TV, and 'Straits Times' newspaper will also be researched where relevant.

The 'Berita Singapura' series was produced during a period of turmoil in Singapore and was personally commissioned by the first Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, in late 1962. In 1963 Singapore declared formal independence from Britain and also joined the Federation of Malaysia. In this context of uncertainty, radical change and risk one of the key tasks facing Lee Kuan Yew and his People's Action Party was to forge a sense of national unity and identity from an ethnically and religiously divided population; and both TV Singapura and 'Berita Singapura' were established in early 1963 in order to help accomplish that. However, because there were only 2,400 TV sets in the city in 1963, 'Berita Singapura' became the paramount audiovisual means through which the government's objectives were to be achieved. 'Berita Singapura' continued to play this pivotal role after the expulsion of Singapore from Malaysia in 1965, and up till 1969. This makes 'Berita Singapura' of considerable historical value.

This project also develops from three previous short research trips to compile information on official film-making in Singapore. As a consequence of these, the PI already possesses a number of relevant primary materials; providing the project proposed here with a substantive research underpinning. In addition, this project is also supported by the PI's recent research and publications on the official film in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

The research project proposed here will constitute an important and original study of this significant and previously unresearched series of films.
Effective start/end date1/01/1431/12/14

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.