At last Saturday’s 55th-anniversary reunion of Trinidad and Tobago Television (ttt) staff at the Harvard Club, former producer Ed Fung, now 95, said that while he felt extremely lucky that the Lord has allowed him to stick around so long and be relatively healthy, he is not happy with the state of television in the country now.
Fung said: “It is a sad case. Instead of improvement I see dis-improvement. Nobody apparently takes care to train the youngsters.
“The industry needs to train their presenters, and I suppose it goes further back into the educational system, because many of the presenters cannot construct a sentence properly, they can’t speak properly, they can’t distinguish between singular or plural and their knowledge of foreign names and titles is very sparse.
Asked about the return of TTT, Fung said: “To me it is good news. I hope the veterans with years of knowledge behind them will volunteer and come forward to help rebuild the station. We need new parameters now, new vision, new blood, etc, because heaven knows we’ve got a lot of talent and a lot of stuff out there that needs to be showcased.”
He then lamented that as a society the country didn’t know its history, recalling his days at AVM, an independently operated station. He said they used to go into the country districts and pull out information from the old folks for a programme called Know Your History. “Years back they will tell you what was going on there, the history of this and the history of that, how to cook this, how to cook that and things like that. It made life interesting.”
If he were asked to assist with the return of TTT, Fung said he would, but to a limited extent, having been a researcher/producer and knowing full well that television is a lot of work, with plenty of mental energy that has to be expended.
Fung said his most memorable aspect of TTT was the coup attempt of 1990. “When it happened, I was at Crow’s Nest in Chaguaramas with Major Gen (Ralph) Brown. I was on my way in to the station but I had to divert, because things weren’t nice at the time. I was advised by radio not to come into the station but gather as much information as I can for later transmission.”
One of his better episodes at TTT was an afternoon when the manager at the time, Fred Rawlins, went into the newsroom. “I was in charge at the time and he asked, ‘How is your passport, is it active?’ I said, ‘Yes, why?’ He says, ‘Well, you are going to China with the prime minister.’ ‘Me?’ He says ‘Yes! Go and get your things ready to move out in a day or two’ – and that was that.’ It was a surprise. But then again, I suppose I had been qualified for that.”
Fung went to China in 1975 as part of the tour to China and the Far East by Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams.
He was the Prime Minister’s press officer as well as television producer.
One of the highlights of his trip was meeting Chairman Mao Tse Tung and Madame Mao, as well as Premier Chou En Lai and other members of the hierarchy.
So is there any hope for society? Fung responded: “Yes and no. There will be hope if the youths coming up take life more seriously and forget all about the jazz they see coming out of American television, the junk, and try and improve on what we have got in this country here. We have got a lot, heaven knows, but we need to bring it out.”
Fung spent the rest of the evening reminiscing with other TTT staff who were around in his time, including Ann Winston, Wendell Case and his personal friend Neil Giuseppi.