Joseph Schooling was less than stellar on the medal stand…
Right off the bat let me make abundantly clear this is not about deprecating Schooling‘s stupendous sporting accomplishment. For his Olympic coup de maître in bringing home the 100-meter butterfly gold — the first-ever Olympic gold for the nation in over 50 years — he deserves a hero’s homecoming parade.
This piece however concerns my desire to further elucidate a ‘wishful’ topic of mine which PM Lee has graciously allowed on his Facebook blog posted a couple days ago. The issue I posed concerns the relevance today of keeping our National Anthem in the Malay tongue. Allow me to share one of my posts (attached at the bottom) regarding the above topic.
The reason I’m adjuring officials and fellow citizens to open debate on this issue is one of common sense. After 50 years of singing our National Anthem, sadly, the majority of Singaporeans are clueless about what its lyrics mean, ergo have cultivated no emotional attachment to it. To prove I’m not out in left field on this, a simple poll or two on its lyrics comprehension would substantiate or disprove my point.
Unsurprisingly though, Joseph Schooling did not tear up on the medal podium during the Anthem ceremony despite the momentousness of the historic occasion. He did mouth the lyrics as it was being played but betrayed no emotion throughout. In fact, no sooner had the Majulah Singapura Anthem ended than he displayed some post-Anthem reaction, beaming his winsome, jubilant smile. I would very much like to ask him, could he have connected to the Anthem experience a great deal better if it was sung in our common first language?
In 1971 the above issue did surface, and did so again in 1991; it was ‘resolved’ then without actually being resolved. Now 25 years on, a ‘wishful’ citizen here would like to see the issue be mooted again for the good of the country and its citizens. …………………………………………….
(Below is a re-post taken from PM Lee’s Facebook page)
August 11, 2016
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 together with translated 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 its re-introduction and translation. And watching the translation on TV this morning, something odd about the wording struck me: the subtitles for the line ‘Semua kita berseru’ read as ‘Let our voices soar as one’ — instead of some other versions I have seen out there such as ‘Let us proclaim’ or ‘All of us exclaim’.
Poetic license in rendition aside, what’s the fuss I’m kicking up here? Because I can personally attest to many a youngster being at sea with the tenor of the Anthem — never mind the appreciation of poetry in its lyrics — I’ve but to conclude these past 50 years of daily conditioning nationwide in cultivating a sense of natural pride and love of the Anthem, have been in vain. Evidently, it’s difficult to develop an affinity and appreciation for an anthem if one cannot recognize or remember its verbal 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 hope not.
Sometime tomorrow morning, Singaporeans will be holding their collective breath before their TV/PDA for the 100m fly event at the Olympics. Should our Joseph 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 will be in the eating, or in the tearing in his case.