Thoughts on the documentary

Liang Wern Fook.
Liang Wern Fook.PHOTOS: IRENE FILMS, GOLDEN VILLAGE, TCR MUSIC STATION, COURTESY OF EVA TANG

LIANG WERN FOOK, 52

Cultural Medallion recipient and singer-songwriter of quintessential xinyao songs such as Friendship Forever, Sparrow With A Bamboo Twig and Singapore Pie

"The same collective memories, through the narrative angles chosen by the film-maker, can emphasise different layers of meanings. For example, the passion of the young people then for music and for their friends can also be interpreted as the protection of Chinese culture by the last of the Chinese-educated students.

"I also hope the film can be food for thought: Apart from an exercise in nostalgia, as a cultural and musical legacy, many of xinyao's values are worth holding on to. I also wish for foreigners to watch this and feel the passion with which Singaporeans treasure their own folk culture."


LIM SEK, 57

Chief executive of entertainment company Music & Movement, who helped to put xinyao on the goggle box when he was a television producer

"For the first time, the xinyao story is told with passion and conviction. The organic growth of a music genre can be clearly seen and I hope it can be an eye-opener to people and organisations here that things cannot be created and copied mindlessly. All the technology and money in the world cannot help you create a K-pop idol Singapore style.

"Unless you have your own identity, no one else in the world is going to take you seriously. Despite all its flaws and lack of sophistication, xinyao is uniquely Singaporean and that remains a fact. To me, that is the message of the film."


ROY LOI, 53

Singer-songwriter, whose hits include Waited For You Till My Heart Ached and Jeff Chang's Love Like The Tides

"The documentary charts the growth of xinyao and it's a precious record. Until now, it's mostly words and photographs that have been preserved from that era, not audio-visual material.

"The campus song movement gave rise to many singers and songwriters as well as arrangers and instrumentalists and this paved the way for Singapore to have its own pop music."

JO HENG, 55

Lyricist, who penned the words to Eric Moo's You Are My Only One, Mavis Hee's Shadow Lover and Jacky Cheung's A Thousand Reasons To Be Sad

"I vaguely knew about the link between Nanyang University's history and the birth of xinyao, but it has never been so tidily arranged into a cohesive story. It also points to the importance of those behind the scenes, from grassroots organisations and journalists, to deejays and television producers - it's a tribute to them as well.

"I hope that it can inspire people to pursue their dreams and spark new inspiration in songwriting."


EVA TANG, 44

Director of The Songs We Sang

"A good documentary has to create a certain social impact. When an English-speaking audience watches the film and a Chinese-speaking audience watches it, each has a different reaction and it can be a bridge for people to talk about history, about us Singaporeans and about what we want to become. A lot of SG50 works were about looking at the past, but we should also think about the future, what we have lost and how we can gain that back. That is something to reflect upon."


LIM CHER HUI, "of retirement age"

Radio deejay better known as Lin Zihui, who started the programme Ge Yun Xin Sheng (Singers And Songwriters) in 1983 that introduced xinyao to a wider audience

"At that time, I just wanted to do my job well and never imagined that decades later, xinyao would generate this kind of reaction. Perhaps this is a reminder for us to take our work seriously and not to give up easily. Whether something is a success or failure will eventually be determined by the passage of time.

"The film covers one facet of our culture, from the budding of xinyao on campuses to its blooming with the help of people from different spheres, as well as the scars that were left on Chinese-educated students with changes in the Chinese language environment in Singapore."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2016, with the headline 'Thoughts on the documentary'. Print Edition | Subscribe