A Follow-up On The Singapore National Anthem Issue

August 11

A follow-up note on the National Anthem language issue…

Dear PM Lee, thank you much for letting me post here the above subject 2 days ago. This morning I was following the Olympics on Okto, and round about twelve noon amidst its programming, the National Anthem came on accompanied by English subtitles for its lyrics.

A year or two earlier I did re-acquaint myself with its lyrics and tenor, using Wiki as the source for the reorientation and translation. So watching the translation on TV, it struck me intuitively as somewhat incongruous when I read the official subtitles for the line ‘Semua kita berseru’ scripted as ‘Let our voices soar as one’ — instead of some other versions out there I’ve come across thus far, such as ‘Let us proclaim’ or ‘All of us exclaim’.

Poetic license in rendition aside, what’s the kerfuffle I am kicking up here? Because I can personally attest to many a youngster (adults as well) being at sea with the tenor of the Anthem — never mind the poetic appreciation of its lyrics — regrettably I have to conclude that these past 50 years of daily National Anthem conditioning in terms of instilling a sense of natural pride and love for it have been in vain; one is truly hard put to develop an affinity for or an appreciation of something when one does not apprehend its words/significations.

Does it stand to reason then to persist in keeping the Anthem in its cryptic language form for the majority of Singaporeans for another 50 years? I sincerely and surely hope not.

Sometime tomorrow morning, Singaporeans will be holding their collective breath before their TV/smartphones for the 100m fly event at the Olympics. Should our Joseph Schooling prevail in making history for himself and the nation, I can’t wait to see his demeanor and reaction on the medal stand to the playing of our National Anthem — the proof of the pudding is in the eating, or in the tearing in his case.


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