10 Facts About The Diam Diam Era, Jack Neo’s New Movie About Politics


By now, you’ve probably heard about Jack Neo’s latest politically-sensitive movie, the third part to Long Long Time Ago.

If you haven’t, or you don’t know why we call it political, you can watch the trailer here first:

Besides being Jack Neo’s most daring movie to date, is there anything else you should know about the movie before you watch it in theatres for yourself?

Well, here are 10 facts about the Diam Diam Era you might be interested in knowing.

And what better to start with, than…

The Premise

The third instalment to Jack Neo’s Long Long Time Ago, the movie is set in the 1980s where it explores the social and iconic moments in Singapore’s history.

Set in the 1980s where people shifted from kampongs to living in HDB flats, the films talks about Ah Kun (Mark Lee) making adjustments to the transitions during this era.

One of the adjustments he has to make includes adapting to the government policies implemented at that point in time.

Ah Kun has his own opinions about these policies and decided to set up his own opposition party to voice out his thoughts.

As to why the character decided to set up a new political party in the movie, actor Mark Lee explained during an interview with AsiaOne,  that Ah Kun “constantly thinks that the government is taking care of the country’s future but not its present. Hence, as someone who comes from the kampung, is uneducated and hot-tempered, he will speak out.”


As a filmmaker who doesn’t shy away from politics in his movies, Jack Neo seeks to explore people’s reaction towards Singapore’s political climate and their feelings towards how the government manages the country in The Diam Diam Era.

No Holds Barred

And it seems that when it comes to said moments, it’s a “no-holds-barred” reveal.

Things that people used to be afraid of voicing out was played out in the movie, giving voice to the people of that era.

Here are some of the more iconic scenes in the trailer:

Switching suddenly from Mandarin to English:

Image: Giphy via YouTube

Anyone getting the Low Thia Khiang vibe here?

The closing of Singapore’s Chinese university:

Image: Giphy via YouTube

How progress was made (sometimes) at the expense of the people:

Image: Giphy via YouTube

And even a shot of how removed a minister is from the common person:

Image: Giphy via YouTube

The film also brings together the poignant fear people in Singapore had about voicing political views in public, and how political beliefs could tear a family apart.


Not A Historical Drama

Long Long Time Ago 1 and 2 are meant to showcase the rich history of Singapore.

But according to Jack Neo, The Diam Diam Era isn’t exactly a historical drama.

Instead, it’s meant to show the point of view of the people living in that era, their hardships and how they managed to adapt to the rapid changes within that era.

4. Walking Through a Mine Field

Politics has always been a touchy subject, but Jack trudges on anyway with the interest in representing a part of our history.

That doesn’t stop the actors from joking about their imminent incarceration in an interview last year.

“If we’re questioned by the authorities, we’ll say it’s the scriptwriters’ fault,” Mark says.

Anyway, if you’ve watched Jack Neo’s movie, you’ll know that he’s always walking on thin ice with his movies…and so far, the only time he has apologised publicly is for something that doesn’t involve his movies #IfYouRemember


The Younger Cast Went All Out To Get Things Right

While the older cast, having lived through that era, are familiar enough to play a role in the 80s, the younger actors do not have that luxury.

So to get into character, they went all out to learn as much as possible.

Some spoke to their parents to learn more about that time period while others watched videos to get a feel for that era.

Actor Richie Ko revealed that he watched documentaries about Singapore to learn about the 80s.

Meanwhile, another actress, Hui Xin, who played the third daughter, Su Qin, started speaking more Hokkien with her parents so that when filming starts, she’ll be fluent in the dialect.


Bare-Faced Beauty

Remember how you watch Korean dramas and scoff every single time a character says she isn’t wearing makeup when she very obviously is?

A female actress in the movie was forced to go through filming with her bare face.

Local actress, Meixin, shared that one of hardest obstacles she had to endure in the filming of the movie is the “no makeup” rule by the director, Jack Neo.

At the movie press conference, she shared that as she has always played a pretty girl in her shows, this was a “step out of the comfort zone” for her.

Mexin plays the eldest daughter of Zhao Di in the movie.

Turns out, she wasn’t the only one to sacrifice for the filming

An Actor Had To Shave For The Filming

Local actor Richie Koh plays Zhao Di’s youngest son in the movie.

His character went through three time periods which means he needs three hairstyle change throughout the filming.


To facilitate the filming, it was suggested that Koh shave his head and wear wigs for filming.

He agreed but slightly regretted his choice when he knew he only had to shave away the middle part of his hair.

Thankfully, after he cut off the hair, he realised that it wasn’t that bad.

“Your Thighs Are Too Big”

Diam Diam Era is also reportedly former K-pop singer, Tasha Low’s, debut acting project.

During the audition process, Jack Neo told her to lose weight for the role.

He was brutally frank and told her that her thighs were “too big”.

While hurt, she convinced herself to lose the weight needed because she wanted to get the role.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Every Detail Was Checked Carefully

One of the comments frequently aired by the younger actors is how detailed and authentic the sets and props are for the movie.

“I was very impressed with the sets and props. It really brought me back to the past and sets the right mood for you to film (the scenes)” – Richie Koh

At a press conference in Apr 2019, Jack Neo said the production team did a lot of research to make sure that “everything looks right for the 1980s and 1990s’.

And it seems that no details were spared as even the books in the backdrop of the bookshop scene was checked and ensured to be published in the “correct time period”.

This is similar to the previous Long Long Time Ago movies; if you’ve brought your parents to watch it, they’d all have gone, “Wah, very real leh!”

The Movie Was A Year Late

Most might not remember but The Diam Diam Era (or Not So Long Ago, as it was known) was supposed to be released in Nov 2019.

We tried searching online to find out why the movie was delayed but didn’t manage to find anything.

But hey, at least it’s going to be out soon later this month.

Better late than never, some might say.

Here’s an interview on AsiaOne back in 2019:

The Diam Diam Era is now showing in all major cinemas.

With Wonder Woman 1984 and The Diam Diam Era screening in cinemas at the end of the year, I guess it’s time for movie theatres here to get busy again, huh?

Featured Image: mm2 Entertainment