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Police Life turns 21
Police Life Monthly - October 1997

The August issue of Police Life Monthly made many heads turn. Many readers inquired why an old SPF logo was used while others queried why there were two covers. Perhaps you did not realise that it was part of our bigger plan to celebrate Police Life's 21st anniversary.

You may also have noticed our small teasers in search of our former writers, coordinators and photographers. Well it all came to a glorious bang on 25 September when the Police Life team celebrated with the biggest event in its history. Pioneers of the magazine witnessed the launch of an exclusive commemorative book and a well produced video on its past and present. Here writers Jason Chua and Nisar Keshvani presents a blow by blow account of the preparatory three months.

Right from the start, our objectives were clear
To compile the rich history of the Singapore Police Force as seen through the eyes of Police Life Monthly (PLM). Why compile SPF's history and why through Police Life?

Ever since SPF was officially formed, only one book has been written - "In the Service of the Nation". Just as that book traced history, the Commemorative Book presents milestones and human interest stories that reveal the attitudes of officers during those times.

Each time we flipped through past issues of PLM,we gained insights into the colourful history of the Force so we figured it was only logical for us to put together this monumental chronicle.

Unfortunately we could only start from 1976 as that was when Police Life was officially launched. We put this idea across to Deputy Director Public Affairs Department, DSP Chin Fook Leong and Asst Dir (Info) Mr Toh Yong Chuan and together with the blessings of Commissioner Khoo Boon Hui and Senior Director (Discipline and Public Affairs) we began the arduous task of compiling the book.
We could have contacted the National Archives to obtain the necessary information if we wanted to. But we did not. It was not that we were full of ourselves, but because our history was already accurately reported in Police Life.

Furthermore, we searched through each of the 252 issues of Police Life and tried to trace our pioneers. We traced them with the aim of inviting them to our birthday celebration and also to pay tribute to their contributions towards Police history.

This was the tough part. In 1976 Police Life had a unique system of employing NSmen as writers. As such, each passing issue saw a change in style and flavour. This meant that Police Life has seen a total of around 190 NSmen as writers since its inauguration.

And this number does not include the co-ordinators of Police Life. Imagine trying to trace pioneers from 21 years ago with only a name as a lead. Although all officers are trained in investigation we were not. And we had to rely on personal sources to trace them. Slowly we managed to find almost everyone we knew about and invited them for the function.

"The writers have done an excellent job in tracing our pioneers. They have gone as far as France tracing Mr Chandran Nair from UNESCO who used to be a writer in the 70's," said Siva Choy in his speech. Aside from compiling the book, we had to coordinate the function and also a video to launch the book.

We searched through each
of the 252 issues of Police Life and tried to trace our pioneers ...
This meant that Police Life
has seen a total of around
190 NSmen as writers
since its inauguration ....

Be it the book, the event or the video, at the end of the day what mattered most was that a tribute was paid to our pioneers and our guests had a good time. Seeing the jovial waves, and hearing the frequent "Hey! Long Time No See!", we realised it has definitely been a while since they last met. Perhaps the thank you's may not come today, tomorrow or even next year.

We know that we have played a role in police history with "A Tribute to our Officers". This book marks the beginning of a new era in Police Life history. We have surpassed our "golden age" and now it is time for us to gear towards the future. Just as our Police Life pioneers have left us this legacy, with this book, a page in history is flagged, a new chapter unfolds, and a new era begins.

"This is not the end but the beginning of a long journey ahead."

Come see our 21-year-old Bundle of Joy
Two hundred proud "parents" turned up on 25 September at the Ministry of Environment Penthouse to celebrate. No, they were neither related to each other nor married. But they had one common link. They had all come together to celebrate Police Life's 21st Anniversary.

Coming from all walks of life they had played a key role at one point or another in Police Life's coming of age. From writing, coordinating, photo taking or advertising, these people had been indispensable parents nurturing our magazine.

"I am proud to be considered a parent. It's a nice gesture on the part of the Police Life team to thank us in this manner and at the same time launch a Commemorative Book "A Tribute to Our Officers".

I could never have imagined this when I started the magazine with 20 others in 1976," said former ASP Daniel Tan who was clearly overjoyed.

ASP Tan was the pioneer coordinator of Police Life together with stalwarts Mr Basskaran Nair, Mr Siva Choy, Mr Herbert Teo, Mr Yap Boh Tiong and others.

Incidentally, "A Tribute To Our Officers" carries an article retracing the history of Police Life. The celebration gave these pioneers the rare chance to come together and reminisce over good times.

"From the moment I received the invitation card I couldn't wait to meet all of my kakis again. In fact I had business guests flying in from overseas but I rescheduled it. I would not have missed this function for all the world," said Mr Basskaran Nair, PLM's editor in 1976.

If nostalgia was the theme, the organisers certainly brought memories back with fervour and flair. An exhibition "1976-1997" was staged displaying old photographs, past Police Life covers and vintage photographs of police officers in the early days.

"We wanted our guests to take a short trip down memory lane," said SC Azhar Talib who designed the panels.

You could say that the entire event was like a page torn out of Police Life. Not only were the guests involved with the magazine in the early days, the performing band and even the emcee were featured in Police Life.

The organisers even retraced a police band that was featured in Police Life in 1986 for winning an SBC Talentime.

"The last time we played together was in 1986. But we thought we'd take the challenge and revive our glory days, seeing the importance of the occasion," said Insp Amri Amin, vocalist for the band.

You could say that the entire event was like a page torn out of Police Life. Not only were the guests involved with the magazine in the early days, the performing band and even the emcee for the night, SSgt George Pillay was featured in Police Life for his musical talents.

It was a nostalgic night for Guest-of-Honour Commissioner Khoo Boon Hui, who joined the Force only a year after the launch of Police Life.

"It has warmed me to see the magazine grow through the years and celebrate its 21st Anniversary. Over 21 years it has documented the changes within the Force. More significantly it has recorded the experiences of police officers, both the triumphant occasions and tragic moments."

Commissioner Khoo paid a glorious tribute to the people behind the magazine when he said: "With the continued dedication of the writers, designers, photographers and editors in the Police Life team I am confident the magazine will continue to accurately and truly reflect the life of officers in the SPF."

A Tribute to Our Officers
"This book is dedicated to all who have, in their own way, made a difference to Police Life Monthly."

These words mark the first page of "A Tribute to Our Officers", the commemorative book launched in conjunction with Police Life's 21st Anniversary. The trademark of this book is that it features the works of about a hundred officers over a 21-year period. "We wanted to make the book special and we thought what would be better than to compile all the issues of Police Life to form a chronology of Police history," said Insp Jason Chua, a member of the Working Committee.

"Working on this book has allowed us to gain an in-depth understanding about the Force. For instance, did you know that officers skated to a world record at the World Trade Centre in 1987?" added SC/Cpl Nisar Keshvani.

It was not plain sailing compiling the articles. Even deciding the contents of the book called for endless meetings, discussions and arguments. Finally, articles that recorded monumental changes and milestones in police history were chosen and snippets of human interest were injected to add some spice.

"Ploughing through pages of the magazine was not the toughest part. There was a period in which the magazines were dated by issue number and not by month, which made our task even harder. There were even times where issues were reprinted. But the final product was satisfaction enough," said Mr Toh Yong Chuan, Asst Director (Information).

The 150-page hard cover book is a limited edition of 1,000 copies and compiles articles published in Police Life over its 21 years. It forms a unique and interesting record of the Singapore Police Force's progress as viewed through the eyes of our officers.

To reach that stage resulted in committee members spending late nights at the design house just to ensure that the right look was achieved. Every article had to be checked and rechecked.

"We even had to pull in about ten officers to help us with the proofreading. Even then we had to proofread the final copy ourselves. Reading a 150-page book is frightful. After the book was launched we stayed away from books for a week," said Insp Tan Seng Teck.

"We wanted to put across the fact that each and every officer has played an integral role in Police Life and ultimately has contributed to our Commemorative Book which belongs to everyone," added Insp Chua.

To add a sense of history, the writers traced ex-Commissioner Mr Goh Yong Hong (who initiated the magazine), past writers Mr Daniel Tan, Mr Yap Boh Tiong, Mr Basskaran Nair, Mr Siva Choy and Mr Herbert Teo.

"I retired as Commissioner feeling that Police Life has succeeded in achieving its objectives," said Mr Goh Yong Hong. "That belief has become even more entrenched today and the appearance of Police Life on the World Wide Web reflects the Force's continuing concern with enhancing its mass communications capabilities. I look forward to reading of even greater developments in the coming years."

For the record, the 150-page hard cover book is a limited edition of 1,000 copies and compiles articles published in Police Life over its 21 years. It forms a unique and interesting record of the Singapore Police Force's progress as viewed through the eyes of our officers.

Police Life Your life in words and pictures
How do you compress 21 years into 2 minutes? That was the question that boggled the minds of the videographers at the Training Command Audio-Visual Unit.

"We had to put ourselves in the shoes of a Police Life writer in 1976. With the guidance of SSgt Eddy Ooi and other experienced officers we tried to imagine how it was and re- enacted the good old times," said SC/Cpl Daniel Yam.

Their main inspiration came from flipping through past issues of Police Life. "What better way to display progression of time than through music. We mixed music from the different eras to show time has passed. Props and set design were carefully chosen to accurately depict a particular era," revealed SSgt Ooi, Officer-in-Charge of the Unit.

The team traced the entire production process from writing to photography to design and printing and to make it more interesting compared the varying styles of the 70's and 90's. They even caught the production of the August issue to ensure the video was as real as possible.

"I was anxious when I learnt the actual team who worked on Police Life in the 70's would be at the function. I wondered if we had depicted the production process accurately. But when everybody clapped, I knew we had done it right," said videographer SC/Cpl Dzulkifli Sungit.

"The video was really professional and I was pleasantly surprised to see during the end credits that it was in fact done by the Training Command Audio-Visual Unit,' said Mr Yap Boh Tiong.

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