Students' short films capture S'pore values

For a tense eight hours in 1991, four armed men from Pakistan prowled the cabin of Singapore Airlines Flight SQ117, terrorising the crew and passengers.

When rounds of negotiation with the hijackers broke down, hooded commandos from the Singapore Armed Forces stormed the plane. In 30 seconds, the hijackers were shot dead and the hostages freed, unscathed.

Last night, the hijacking was immortalised in a film, produced by four Temasek Polytechnic students, that is part of the Singapore Stories film series.

SQ117: Men Behind The Masks, which stars local actors such as Tay Ping Hui and Terence Cao, is one of three short filmsmade by students from the polytechnic's School of Design and commissioned by Singapore Discovery Centre, to celebrate Singapore's golden jubilee.

Speaking at the film gala, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said he hoped the series will help connect Singaporeans to events in the country's past and bring historical moments to life for the young.

The film's producer, Ms Cheryl Wong, 20, said she learnt about the historic event only a year ago from her father.

"This is a part of Singapore most of us don't know existed," she said. "Hopefully, this film will also help educate young people on how we cannot take peace and security for granted."

For Mr Goh, two decades have passed but the hijacking remains a vivid memory. He was barely a year into his new appointment as prime minister at the time.

The events could not be captured on film then, he said, but re-enacting the drama will etch it into people's memory. He also said the three short films capture values central to Singapore's identity.

Reunion, about a man who returns home to fulfil his ailing grandmother's wish, tells of the importance of family.

The Dream Team, a documentary on the local football team that won the 1994 Malaysia Cup, captures the nation's euphoria at the victory, and the grit and determination of its athletes.

"I hope the films will inspire Singaporeans to carry the values of family, togetherness, grit, resilience, preparedness and unity into the future," said Mr Goh.

From July 1, Singaporeans and permanent residents can watch the three films free at Singapore Discovery Centre. They will be screened daily for a year.

This article was first published on May 1, 2015.
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