Short film on S'pore's last surviving Flying Tiger, Captain Ho Weng Toh, featuring Richie Koh to be released in Dec. 2023

Captain Ho Weng Toh is 103-year-old this year.

Winnie Li | September 24, 2023, 06:56 PM



Update: The Films Executive Producer has informed Mothership that the film will be released in December, instead of November.

A three-minute film based on the life of Singapore's last surviving Flying Tiger, Captain Ho Weng Toh, is expected to be released in December 2023.

The film, titled "Flying Tigers," will feature Mediacorp actor Richie Koh as Ho, according to a press release issued by Grid Synergy, Decode Global, the Singapore Armed Forces Veteran's League, and Family Office Alliance on Sep. 19.

Koh won the Best Actor award for his role in Channel 8 drama "Your World In Mine" at this year's Star Awards.

In response to Mothership's queries, Koh said it is "an honour" to play Ho in the upcoming short film as the latter was seen as an international hero all across, and his invaluable story will always be "inspiring" to many generations to come.

Koh also added that he hopes to be able to portray an accurate self of Ho and let the latter's story live long.

Who's Captain Ho?

Born in Ipoh in 1920, Ho was part of the China-America Composite Wing (CACW), commonly known as the Flying Tigers.

CACW was a joint venture by the United States Air Force and the Chinese Air Force to fight against the Japanese invasion during World War II (WWII).

Throughout the war, Ho flew 18 missions and operated a B25 Mitchell Bomber, a very versatile plane which could fly high and low.

Image via the National WWII Museum

After the war concluded, he resigned from the Chinese Air Force as he chose to remain neutral in the brewing civil war between the governing Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party.

In 1951, he returned to Malaya and started flying for the now-defunct Malayan Airways, the precursor of Singapore Airlines (SIA).

Pioneer pilot of Singapore Airlines

At SIA, Ho, who was promoted to captain, took upon himself the responsibility of nurturing an entire generation of Singaporean pilots as the newly formed SIA was facing a severe shortage of qualified local pilots to sustain its growth in the 1960s.

Later on, Ho became the chief pilot for SIA's Boeing 737 fleet in 1974 and retired from flying six years later.

Besides his invaluable contribution to Singapore's national carrier, Ho was also remembered for the kindness and humility he exhibited during his tenure at SIA.

As Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh puts it at the launch of Ho's autobiography, "Memoirs of a Flying Tiger: The Story of a WWII Veteran and SIA Pioneer Pilot" in November 2019:

"[Ho] was a good boss because he believes you don't demand respect from others; you earn respect from others by respecting them. He believes the two most important qualities are modesty and humility. He was kind to everybody and not just to pilots, from cabin crew to ground crew. He is the kind of boss that Singapore needs and is in very short supply."

A man with a "strong sense of moral purpose"

Ho, now 103 years old, was also described as "a man with a strong sense of moral purpose" by former foreign minister George Yeo at the "A Last Parade of the Flying Tigers," an event to mark the commencement of production for "Flying Tigers."

Image via Decode Group

In particular, Yeo referred to an incident which took place in the 1940s when Ho was studying at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and the city fell to Japanese rule:

"When the students in uniformed groups at HKU were taken by the Japanese, [Ho] followed them at a distance to Sham Shui Po where they would be incarcerated.

He sneaked in food for them. He knew that if he were to get caught, the consequences would be very severe. He could have worried for himself. But, no, he worried for his friends.

People we admire are ordinary people who were suddenly confronted with a choice and did not know it in advance."

Details of the film

According to the press release, the idea for "Flying Tigers" was conceived by Philip Wu, the Chief Executive Officer of Grid Synergy, in response to a virtual production innovation call by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) in 2023.

The short film will be directed by Gilbert Chan, an award-winning director and writer who was behind the movies "S11" and "23:59."

"Flying Tigers" will be filmed in an accurate replica of a B25 Mitchell Bomber cockpit built into an advanced studio that can film content directly into a game engine.

This way, the film would not need to undergo any post-editing, and no special effects would need to be added.

Upon completion, the film will be released exclusively on mewatch and distributed on a non-commercial basis to schools in Singapore to encourage the country's commitment to defence.

More on Captain Ho's legendary life

Top image via Mothership & Richie Koh 许瑞奇/Facebook