Thursday, August 09, 2007

Happy Birthday Singapore!

Pix source: The Straits Times' National Day Special, which has many impressive pictures.

Singapore turns 42 today. It's another day of impressive celebrations with military-like precision. Everything appeared to happen on schedule, based on what we saw from our apartment and on TV.

The fighter jets roared past Marina Bay effortlessly, government leaders came on time in their pristine white, and the beautiful fireworks were well timed. Even the performances by the school kids went without any obvious glitch. Kit Chan's voice was stunning and moving.

But there was one flaw, as usual. Many Singaporeans still appeared to have difficulty in singing the national anthem, Majulah Singapura.

Singapore adopted the Malay song as its national anthem after it was booted out of Malaysia and became an independent nation in 1965. While Malay was more widely used then, it is no longer the lingua franca of Singapore today. Three quarters of Singaporeans are Chinese who are more comfortable with English and Mandarin. Even many Malays in Singapore are more conversant in English.

It's sad to see many Singaporeans still struggling with their national song. It's highly questionable whether they know the meaning of the lyrics even if they can sing or hum along. Some, including members of the ruling party, just stood stoically when the national anthem was played.

The solution is not to teach all Singaporeans to sing the Malay song. It's perhaps better to come up with a new national anthem in English. More people will be able to sing the song and appreciate it.

After all, many Singaporeans probably understood what Kit Chan sang tonight.

Additional reading:
Mr Wang Says So
Aaron Ng


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Rainer Teh Weiren said...

Ever wonder why the national pledge is in English while the national anthem is in Malay?

goliku said...

Being in the centre of Malay Archipelago and yet not conversant in Malay language, something is amiss here, right?

I strongly believe if Singaporean know Malay language well, they will be more well-liked by its neighbour countries. Then, relationship with Malaysia and Indonesia will be a better and smoother ones.