Episode Number
Ten Million Strong
Producing Organization
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
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Ten Million Strong is an hour long program originally produced on film. It was later broadcast as Perspectives #6.
The Federation of Malaysia, which emerged as an independent political entity on September 16, 1963, is the subject of this one-hour Intertel documentary. The title comes from the chorus of a popular song: "Let's get together/ Sing a happy song/ Malaysia forever/ Ten million strong." It is indicative of the spirit in this new federation that a patriotic jingle tops the Malaysian hit parade. The problems of an emerging nation are especially acute here, since Malaysia is composed of four separate colonial entities. The Federation forms a 1,600 mile crescent through the South China Sea, extending from the southern border of Thailand to the north coast of Borneo. It is politically and economically dominated by Malaya with its polyglot population of Malays, Chinese, Tamils, and pygmy negritos and other aboriginal tribesmen, and the central government is located in Kuala Lumpur, the Malayan capital. The new "nation" also includes Singapore, with its predominantly Chinese population, and the colonies of Sarawak and North Borneo (Sabah). The latter two were included in the Federation mainly to provide non-Chinese balance to the population, but in these jungle territories many of the people are primitive tribesmen who live in communal long-houses, worship animist water spirits, and hunt with poisoned darts and blowguns.?The following is a summary of the program: TEN MILLION STRONG opens with a statement of purpose by Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Malaysian Prime Minister. Often called the "father of Malaysia," the Tunku expresses his belief that similar interests, uniting all the various peoples of Malaysia, will bring about a strong Federation. But opposition spokesmen believe that racial tensions and inequalities present all but insuperable barriers to the success of Malaysia. In Singapore, Dr. Lee Siew Choh, leader of the opposition Socialist party, says that the Socialists oppose the Federation because they believe it to be merely another facet of British imperialism. On the other hand, Lee Kuan Yew, Prime Minister of Singapore, says that Malaysia has achieved a greater degree of democracy than most Far Eastern countries. In his opinion, the external dangers (i.e. threats from Communist China and from Indonesia) tend to consolidate the Federation -- to draw its various groups closer together. He acknowledges that the internal problem of racial tension is the greatest challenge -- that the Federation must somehow overcome the indigenous peoples' fear of economic dominance by the Chinese and the Indians. And beyond that, he says, the economy must be broadened and stabilized so that it is not so dependent on the rubber and tin markets. He points out that if either of these industries should fail, unemployment would become a massive problem throughout Malaysia, with a resultant popular swing toward Communism. In Malaya, which produces one third of the world's tin and rubber, a strong effort is being made to introduce modern farming and industrial methods. In Sarawak there is increasing emphasis on education, and the film follows the journey of Roland Duncan, a Sea Dyak, who returns from school to his native village. The grandson of a head hunter, Duncan is the first of his tribe to attend school, and he will become the first teacher in his village. In North Borneo the rivers have long been the only highways. Now, as a result of a boom in the timber industry (controlled primarily by the British and the Chinese), the first real highway is being built, linking Sandakan on the eastern border with Jesselton, the capital city, on the west. Although three-quarters of the population in North Borneo is Chinese, there are still many primitive people there -- farmers who follow the pagan beliefs of their ancestors. The multiplicity of races and beliefs makes freedom of worship an essential goal of the Federation. But religious life is dominated by Islam, since it is the state religion and its head is the king of Malaysia, who is elected by the Moslem sultans from their own ranks. And the Moslem prohibition against intermarriage will prevent a true racial fusion in Malaysia for some time to come. The film closes with statements on the future of Malaysia by five spokesmen, all of whom have appeared in earlier portions: - Professor A. Aziz of the University of Malaya says that unless some way can be found to halt the increasing exploitation of the poor by a few capitalists, the tension in Malaysia may grow to a critical point. He believes that the tensions are not basically racial, but economic, since this exploitation cuts across all racial groups. - Tunku Abdul Rahman, Prime Minister of Malaysia, points out that the government is attempting to achieve economic equality for all groups by giving special privileges to the Malay peasants. Since most of the economy is in the hands of non-Malays who make no effort to accommodate the Malayans, it is up to the government to ensure that the Malays will have a place in the social and economic life of the Federation. - Lee Kuan Yew, Prime Minister of Singapore, believes that Malaysia will prosper only if all the population groups, and especially the Chinese and the Malays, achieve complete interaction and integration. - Dr. Lee Siew Choh, leader of the opposition Barisan Socialis (correct) party, says that Malaysia will inevitably fail, because, in his opinion, the Federation does not have the support of the people. - D. R. Seenivasaga, an opposition member of the Malaysian Parliament, believes that the Federation does have the support of the people, but that it will lose this support unless it provides true equality of opportunity.?TEN MILLION STRONG is a 1963 production of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
Intertel, a dramatic breakthrough in the dissemination of ideas and cultural exchange through television, was conceived in November 1960. Five television broadcasters in the four major English-speaking nations joined to form the International Television Federation, to be known as Intertel, the first such international organization. The participants were Associated Rediffusion, Ltd. of Great Britain, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and for the United States, the National Educational Television and Radio Center and the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company. Intertel produced on a bi-monthly basis hour-long documentaries on important world topics, inaugurating a global television production agency dedicated to the creation of programs of substance and meaning. John F. White, President of NET, called Intertel more than a fusion of the creative talents of the organizations involved in producing television programs of outstanding merit. It is a step forward to world understanding, he added. I believe that the exchange of documentaries, while of great significance in the vastness of the mutual understanding in it can foster, is but the first step in a regular exchange of all forms of programming. Donald H. McGannon, President of WBC, hailed the new organization as a pool of the technical and creative ability and knowledge of all the groups which will extend the international horizons of television in all aspects. This is the first practical step, after years of talking and hoping, toward the creation and use of international television for cultural exchange and an effective weapon for peace. By having observers examine topics far removed from their everyday assignments, Intertel gives viewers a fresh viewpoint. The founder members indicated that by dubbing these programs in foreign languages and making them available to all nations, they hoped television companies in Europe, Asia and South America will eventually join this unique project. The supervisory committee for the United States programming segments consists of Mr. McGannon and Mr. White; Richard M. Pack, WBC Vice President Programming; and Robert Hudson, NET Vice President for Programming. Intertel came into formal being November 14, 1960, in a special meeting in Vancouver, B.C., and the culmination of plans for such an association which has been under way for a long time. John McMilliam of Associate Rediffusion, was named contemporary Coordinating Officer at that time. (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
Asset type
Race and Ethnicity
Public Affairs
Media type
Associate Producer: Edwards, Neil
Director: Gray, John S.
Executive Producer: Hutchinson, Neil
Interviewee: Yew, Lee Kuan
Interviewee: Choh, Lee Siew
Interviewee: Rahman, Tunku Abdul
Interviewee: Aziz, A.
Interviewee: Seenivasaga, D. R.
Narrator: Condon, James
Producer: Gray, John S.
Producing Organization: Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Writer: Crew, John
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Chicago: “Intertel; 14; Ten Million Strong,” 1963-12-16, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 13, 2021,
MLA: “Intertel; 14; Ten Million Strong.” 1963-12-16. American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 13, 2021. <>.
APA: Intertel; 14; Ten Million Strong. Boston, MA: American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from