SBS commissions drama about Australian drug trafficker Van Nguyen executed in Singapore

SBS has commissioned a new drama series, its first in three years.

Better Man, is a four part mini-series from FremantleMedia Australia and Bravado Productions about the true story of an Australian convicted and executed for drug trafficking in Singapore.

The story follows Van Nguyen, 25, known as “the Baby of Death Row” in the Singapore prison Changi, who is caught when trying to provide for his struggling family, and executed after a three year legal battle on 2 December 2005.

The series is written and directed by AFI-winning film-maker Khoa Do.

Michael Ebeid, SBS managing director said: “Better Man is an example of the sort of compelling, inspiring and thought provoking content that SBS can create with sustainable funding. Whilst our unprecedented Federal Budget funding boost is largely addressing the challenges we’ve faced in a changing media landscape, it has also enabled us to get back into the business of drama programming which our audiences know when we do it, we do it well.”

The mini-series is the first commission for Tony Iffland, SBS director of TV and online content.

Iffland said: “It is a uniquely Australian story and one that only SBS would tell. SBS is proud to support this production which underlines our commitment to making the very best home-grown programming for all Australians.”

FMA’s creative director and the show’s executive producer, Jason Stephens said: “Khoa Do’s involvement brings a resonance to Better Man which no other writer could because of his own family history, along with his extraordinary talent and accomplishments.”

Production will begin in October in Melbourne and Vietnam and is due to screen in 2013.


  1. Catherine
    25 Jul 12
    9:30 pm

  2. Hi,
    Can you please amend your article with the correct information? I understand that Khoa Do is writing and directing the series and will not be playing the lead role as stated in your article. Also, Changi is the name of the prison whereby Van Nguyen was held in, and not a nickname for him.
    Thank you.

  3. A once struggling film maker
    25 Jul 12
    10:06 pm

  4. How ironic. I made a short film about this very topic in 2006 while at film school. As a mum found I could not imagine the mothers pain watching her son go through this. So awful.A death sentence for a person is a death sentence for their loved ones too…

    After making the film couldn’t afford to actually “get it out there” into festivals (this is prior to online and social media really ramping up). So many people asked me at the time “why this story?”.. Guess the press release above answers this question.

  5. Colin Delaney
    26 Jul 12
    9:00 am

  6. Hi Catherine
    Apologies. This is amended.
    – Mumbrella

  7. Kaspian
    26 Jul 12
    11:04 am

  8. This sounds like a great drama. I am definitely going to watch.

  9. Nance
    26 Jul 12
    3:13 pm

  10. @A once struggling film maker – hardly “ironic”. Just for the record….

  11. Dolly
    26 Jul 12
    5:44 pm

  12. @ Nance – it’s “Allonic” 😉

  13. Tom Harding
    28 Jul 12
    8:17 pm

  14. This drug trafficker deserved the death sentence. If he had succeeded in transporting the drugs through Singapore’s customs, his package would have caused misery to hundreds if not thousands of drug abuse families. He deserved to be punished and he deserved the death sentence in accordance to Singapore’s laws.

    To make a film glorifying a drug trafficker is to support and encourage young Australians to take up the easy job of drug trafficking, “to provide for his struggling family”. Everyone should realize that what he has done is a terrible crime. And he deserved to be punished severely for his crime.

  15. A Once Struggling Filmaker
    29 Jul 12
    2:22 pm

  16. Tom Harding – since the film has yet to be made you can’t possibly comment on the angle / tone or indeed message the writer / director (indeed even if there IS a message) seek to convey. FOr all you know the message could be he deserved it or “when in Rome”. However they could also be taking a more objective, ‘human delimma’ (its not just the guilty person that gets the ‘death sentence’) perspective (which I sought to do). Fact is you do not know. Is not been made yet. So with that I ask how on earth do you know that the creators are seeking to ” make a film glorifying a drug trafficker ..” ?

    I’d suggest you wait until the film is made AND you have actually seen it before jumping to conclusions. People are often quick to make judgements about things they know nothing about…

    Nance – thanks for that. Straight to the top of the class for you.