​Excellencies and Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

      I am happy to join all of you for this opening of the Asia Television Forum & Market (ATF) and ScreenSingapore (SS).

2    Besides these two events, we also have the Asian Television Awards and the Singapore International Film Festival taking place during this period. All these events are part of the inaugural Singapore Media Festival (SMF). This is the first time we are clustering the events to create greater synergy and we have received positive feedback. Through the Festival, we hope to create more opportunities for businesses, celebrate the best of Asian TV and film talent, and give Singapore audiences the chance to watch first rate films with a distinctive Southeast Asian flair.

Gateway to Asia

3    We are meeting at an exciting time for Asia’s media industry.  The outlook for the industry is positive. A more affluent and discerning middle class is spending more on entertainment. Markets like China, India and Indonesia are growing rapidly. International players are all looking for ways to make inroads into the region.

4    Singapore is well-positioned to take advantage of these opportunities.  We are located at the heart of Southeast Asia. We are a gateway between the East and West, helping Western media companies expand into Asia, and develop networks and partnerships here. At the same time, we can help local and regional companies based here and Asia expand to Western markets. We are also supporting the growth of this exciting industry, including promoting activities like film financing for films produced in the region.  

5    So through the SMF, we hope to offer opportunities for international media players to deepen their collaborations with Asian and Singapore media companies. Earlier this morning, I attended the signing of the first China-Singapore film fund launched by China’s Bona Film, in partnership with Singapore-based fund management company Tembusu Partners, and Singaporean media entrepreneur Calvin Cheng. The US$100 million dollar (about SGD 130 million) fund will be the first fund that allows foreign investors to participate in China’s media market. It is a significant step forward. Other partnerships will be announced over the next three days. I hope you will find the networking sessions useful in forming new partnerships during the Festival.

Initiatives to further develop Singapore’s media industry

6    Naturally, we hope that these developments will translate into new opportunities for Singapore too. 

7    Our media industry has certainly come a long way. In the past, there weren’t as many options for entertainment as what we have today. If you are like me, growing up in the 80s, or perhaps you are older and have experienced the 80s as an adult, you will remember watching Channel 8 dramas series on TV. It was practically a national past time. After dinner, the whole family will be in front of the TV watching drama series like ‘The Awakening’ and others. And then the next day in school or at the work place, people will be talking about what they had watched the night before, and speculating on how the plot will unfold. 

8    Today, our media environment is very different. Singaporeans have access to all sorts of content, through Cable TV as well as through the internet.  At the same time, our capabilities are much stronger. Singaporean films such as Ilo Ilo by Anthony Chen has won over 40 international awards. Beach House Pictures’ Hidden Cities has been well received by global audiences and will grow to two further seasons. 

9.    But there is more that we must do to tackle challenges, as well as seize the new opportunities brought about by the changing environment, media convergence and consumer viewing habits. The Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) is therefore working on several initiatives to help strengthen local capabilities.

10    One strategy is to look at opportunities in the digital space.  We all know that young people do not have the same TV watching habits today compared to say 10 or 20 years ago. If you ask any of them, the experience that I described where families come together after dinner to watch TV, it’s not quite the same today. Many are now accessing content through the internet, and through smart mobile devices. So it’s crucial for our local content producers to stay abreast of these trends and capitalise on these new media consumption trends.

11    MDA has assistance programmes to support media companies’ ventures into the digital space, by helping to support areas like talent development and production. It is studying what more can be done to help our companies in this new area.

12.    The potential is certainly there.  For example, companies like Night Owl Cinematics have garnered almost 300,000 viewers on its YouTube channel.  The founders from Night Owl Cinematics will be speaking at the SMF to share their insights on delivering stories in the digital space, how they engage audience and grow their audiences on the online space. I hope that their experiences will help encourage and inspire more Singaporean producers to develop content and engage audiences in the digital space.

13.    Another strategy is to facilitate strategic partnerships between international and local media companies.  Many leading international media companies are already in Singapore, such as HBO, Fox International Channels and Disney.

14.    We are encouraged by the growing partnerships between these international companies and our local talent. For example, HBO has partnered two local companies, Infinite Studios and Infocus Asia, to produce original drama series like Grace. I think it is doing and rating very well. More than 100 Singaporeans were also involved in the shoot of two upcoming Hollywood blockbusters, Agent 47 and Equals. These will be screened next year and so if you are going to the movie next year, look out for Agent 47 and Equals. You will see backdrop scenes that are familiar to all of us. These were partially shot and produced on our shores and I think it’s a very good way for the whole world to see what Singapore is like.

15    Going forward, we hope to foster more of such partnerships between international and local media companies. We are doing this not just for the movies to be shot in Singapore but with a view to promote more sharing of practices and development of new capabilities that will benefit our local media industry.

A celebration of SG50 through local TV and film content

16    Of course, the power of TV and film go beyond financial returns and economic statistics. They have a significant and powerful role in shaping our shared culture and bonding us together as a community.

17    This is particularly important as we are celebrating Singapore’s 50th birthday next year and we are harnessing the power of TV and film to celebrate this special occasion.  We have a bumper crop of more than 24 Singapore films – double our average annual output, which works out to about two movies a month. Singapore movies, made in Singapore, about Singapore. So for all of you who are based here, look out for them, support Singapore movies, support Singapore films and go watch them next year on the big screen.  Viewers can also look forward to more quality programmes on TV, including CNA documentaries on different periods of Singapore’s history, a new infotainment magazine show on Channel 5, as well as a new blockbuster mini-series on Channel 8 and Suria.  So there is a lot more content to look forward to as we celebrate SG50.


18    Making TV shows and movies is a lot of hard work.  It’s often a slow labour-intensive and painstaking process. I speak from a bit of first-hand experience because MediaCorp asked me to do a cameo for one of their Channel 8 dramas series earlier this year.  Although it was only for a few seconds, appearing as myself, it took tremendous amounts of takes just to get it right. I really appreciated how difficult it is. A few seconds of screen action can take a lot of effort to produce. So I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and recognise all the people who are involved in our local media industry, our local content producers, directors, actors and actresses. All of you help to tell distinctively Singaporean stories that connect with all of us, and help to strengthen our national identity and culture. 

19    Finally, I would like to invite all of you to visit the Singapore Pavilion, which is showcasing more than 850 hours of film, TV and animation content, all made in Singapore.  I would also like to thank our partners SGIFF, Reed Exhibitions, and Contineo Media for helping to make the event a success. I wish you an enjoyable and fruitful time at the Asia Television Forum & Market (ATF), the ScreenSingapore (SS), and the inaugural Singapore Media Festival.

Last updated on: 13 Mar 2023