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Genre: Documentary
Rating: PG

Year Made: 2001








Languages: English/Mandarin/
Subtitles: Chinese/English
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen 4x3
Sound: Dolby Digital
Running Time: 1 hr 28 mins
Region Code: PAL 3
Distributor: Innoform Media




Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew attended the 35th National Day celebrations on 9 August 2000. He is contented as he watches Singapore grow day by day like any loving father watching his son grow up. Thirty-five years have passed by so quickly, the Singapore that he took over back then was weak and abandoned...

"Some countries were meant to be independent while some successfully fought for independence but Singapore's independence was forced upon it."

"The place where I live is nice, she is a small island. She is so small that you can hardly find it on the map but the whole world knows her name."

These are the lyrics from a Singaporean song "The Place Where I Live" which expresses Singaporeans' pride. As Mr Lee Kuan Yew looks out onto Malaysia from an elevated point on the Johor-Singapore Causeway, he analyses that the ill effects of not having the Malaysian island on Singapore and reminisces about the difficulties that Singapore faced 35 years ago...


The Singapore education system has equipped me well with the country’s history. And it has made me proud how our little island has prospered from a little fishing village to the bustling city of possibilities today. And one person our countrymen have to thank is one of Lion City’s most important politicians, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew

While the above statement may sound like propaganda to some of my angst-ridden countrymen, I sincerely think that Singapore won’t be what it is today without Lee’s leadership.

Produced in 2001 by a Hong Kong channel, this 89-minute two-part documentary takes a look at how Lee brought Singapore to independence, and interestingly gives viewers a glimpse into his personal life.

If you had paid attention during your history classes, this documentary presents you with not much new information, except that you’ll be hearing interviews from the man himself. You’d be hearing about how Lee managed the merger with Malaya from 1963 to 1965, and then its separation which led to our country’s independence. The classic broadcast of Lee’s emotional announcement of the separation on 9 August 1965 is one of the high points in the disc. You’d also be hearing about the controversies between Lee and opposition leaders like Tang Liang Hong and Chee Soon Juan. For the sake of political correctness, we shall not further make any standpoints on this issue.

The more interesting moments of this documentary come during its last 20 minutes. Did you know that male civil servants were to keep short hair, and that anyone with unkempt hair was to be inspected under suspicion? Did you know that Lee hated the heat in the country and always kept his air conditioning at 22C?

Given the documentary’s genre, the production values are high enough to keep the audiences engaged. The range of interviewees from academics, other important politicians and the opposition figures themselves, you will be kept interested throughout the feature. The attractively-shot cutaways and clean editing is also a nice presentation on Lee’s success story.

What I found most apt was the use of Hans Zimmer’s rousing score for Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000) at the beginning of the documentary. No music would fit better for this influential leader that has brought Singapore to what it is today.


This Code 3 may look like a collectible box set, but what a shame, there are no supplements inside. Even a booklet with printed pictures of important historical events would be nice.


The disc’s visual transfer clear enough to keep you focused on learning about Singapore’s history, and is presented in the interviewee’s original audio tracks of English, Mandarin and Cantonese.



Review by John Li



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This review is made possible with the kind support from InnoForm


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