The South East Asia Commonwealth (SEACOM) project was first discussed at the South East Asia Commonwealth Cable Conference, 1961. In 1962, the participating countries, namely Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia set up the SEACOM Management Committee to proceed with the project. The countries concerned also entered into an agreement for the SEACOM partnership to operate for a period of 25 years with effect from 1 January 1963 .During the 3rd meeting of the Commonwealth Cable Management Committee held in Montreal in September 1966, it was agreed that the opening of SEACOM should be marked by a formal opening ceremony on or about 30 March 1967. As Singapore had contributed over $12 million to the SEACOM project and it was one of Singapore's major international efforts benefiting not only Singapore but regional and world communications as a whole, Telecoms Department proposed to Permanent Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister to produce a documentary film feature on SEACOM. On 3 March 1967, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture appointed Cathay Film Services Limited to produce a film on SEACOM and on Singapore as a centre of communications . Dr Toh Chin Chye, then Acting PM was invited to give a speech to commemorate the opening of SEACOM on 30 March 1967 .
In 1969, Telecoms Department obtained financial approval for the satellite earth station project at Sentosa. In view of the magnitude and cost of this project, a consulting company, Crown Communications, London was engaged to conduct site interference tests and examine the draft earth station tender specifications prepared by the Telecoms Department . Crown Communications provided its comments on the initial draft tender specifications on 24 March 1969 . The final draft of the specifications was prepared on 1 July 1969 and forwarded to Crown Communications for comments and open to tender .
Also in this file: During the final stage of planning for the Singapore satellite earth station, Telecoms Department sent an Assistant Controller of Telecommunications to visit Bangkok and Hong Kong Satellite Earth Stations from 23 to 31 May 1969. The main objectives were to confirm certain aspects in the tender specifications and earth station building layouts .
To prepare for the operation and maintenance of the new satellite earth station (SES) by 1970, Telecoms Department arranged through Public Service Commission (PSC) overseas training on SES equipment maintenance as such specialised training courses were not available locally . By September 1969, 3 technical assistants (TAs) had returned from their overseas training in India and UK , just in time for the commencement of the construction of the SES; whereas another 2 TAs were still undergoing training in UK . To prepare for the construction of SES work starting in early 1970, Telecoms Department also requested from Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Finance to employ 10 TAs and 20 technicians for the SES . Commencing from 4 May 1970, the newly recruited technicians attended a three-month in-house training course on "Telecoms Principles and Elementary Telecoms Practice" developed by experienced TAs & technicians .
In August 1968, Telecoms Department submitted their initial plan for a satellite earth station (SES) at Pulau Blakang Mati (now known as Sentosa island) to Public Works Department (PWD) who was responsible for the construction of the earth station buildings in time for equipment arrival. Only $1 million had been provided for the planning and construction of the station buildings on Sentosa . In March 1969, Telecoms Department wrote to overseas SES operators in Hong Kong and Thailand for a copy of their station layout floor plans for planning guidance. Telecoms Department also liaised closely with the Head of Urban Renewal Department (URD) of Housing Development Board on the satellite earth station site and building plans as URD was undertaking the development of the whole of Pulau Blakang Mati while another development project (i.e. a golf course) near the proposed earth station site was in progress .
In 1972, Singapore Government was working with the Japanese Government to take a loan of ¥800,000,000 from the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF), Japan, for the 2nd satellite earth station project. Permanent Secretary of Economic Development advised Telecommunication Authority of Singapore (TAS) to work with Nippon Electric Company Limited (NEC) on the payment terms . NEC was informed on 16 January 1973 that their tender proposal dated 11 August 1972 had been accepted at a total tender price of S$7,295,764.01.
Also in this file: The 1st satellite earth station at Sentosa carried commercial traffic on 16 August 1971 and TV programmes from Japan, UK and Australia were received successfully via the 1st satellite station on the celebration of Singapore National Day .
Sentosa Earth Station was equipped with facilities to transmit or receive a TV programme to/from an overseas station via satellite. A letter dated 26 June 1974 from the Department of Broadcasting, Ministry of Culture informied Telecommunication Authority of Singapore (TAS) that it was in a position to make a firm booking with TAS for 'live' TV coverage (colour) of the FIFA World Cup Final in Munich, Germany on 7 July 1974. The first live TV telecast in Singapore via satellite transmission would be the forerunner to many other such telecasts in the future .
Arrangements were made with the German telecom administration for TV telecast (with an English commentary audio circuit) required by the TV broadcaster.
As the TV broadcaster, Radio Television Singapore (RTS) required English commentary from BBC London (Type 1 BBC Channel 8), TAS ordered a separate audio circuit from BBC London via satellite as confirmed by the satellite operator, COMSAT in its telex dated 3 July 1974 .
A letter from the Department of Broadcasting, Ministry of Culture confirming that RTS was proceeding with plans to telecast the Opening Ceremony of the 7th Asian Games 'live' from Aryamehr Stadium, Tehran via satellite on Sunday, 1 September 1974. Arrangements were made with the telecom administration in Tehran for the live TV telecast (with a separate commentary audio circuit) as requested by the TV broadcaster, RTS .
The opening ceremony of the Sentosa Satellite Earth Station (SES) was held on 23 October 1971 with photographs taken by Ministry of Culture . In March 1973, after the award of the Tender for the construction of the second SES, General Manager of Telecommunication Authority of Singapore (TAS) requested that the construction of the second SES to be covered by TV . In preparation for the opening ceremony for the second antenna at Sentosa, TAS worked on the design of an opening ceremony plaque which would be mounted on the antenna foundation wall . TAS also invited the Department of Broadcasting to nominate an officer to participate in the meetings of the Organising Committee for the official opening of the second antenna .
An official opening ceremony for the 2nd Sentosa Earth Station was planned for 17 August 1974. A telex message from the COMSAT (Communications Satellite Corporation) Operation Centre confirmed the booking of satellite space segments for live TV telecasts by various parties for the opening ceremony, including Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and the USA . The programme for the opening ceremony included a live transmission of congratulatory message from the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia; Sentosa opening ceremony (Singapore to Australia); Maori dance highlight from New Zealand; and musical performance by Stan Kenton & Quintet (from Sacramento State College) from the USA.