|English: Onward Singapore|
National anthem of Singapore
|Lyrics||Zubir Said, 1958|
|Music||Zubir Said, 1958|
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Majulah Singapura (Onward Singapore) is the national anthem of Singapore. Composed by Zubir Said in 1958 as a theme song for official functions of the City Council of Singapore, the song was selected in 1959 as the island's anthem when it attained self-government. Upon full independence in 1965, Majulah Singapura was formally adopted as Singapore's national anthem. By law the anthem may only be sung with its original Malay lyrics, although there exist authorised translations of the lyrics of the anthem in Singapore's three other official languages: English, Mandarin and Tamil.
The national anthem is regularly performed or sung in schools and armed forces camps at ceremonies held at the beginning and/or the end of each day, during which the national flag is also raised and lowered and the national pledge is taken. Singaporeans are especially encouraged to sing the national anthem on occasions of national celebration or national significance such as at the National Day Parade, at National Day observance ceremonies conducted by educational institutions and government departments, and at sporting events at which Singapore teams are participating.
- 1 History
- 2 Use of the national anthem
- 3 Translations
- 4 Arrangements and recordings
- 5 Lyrics
- 6 References
- 7 External links
- 8 Further reading
The composition of Majulah Singapura occurred during a push for independence from the United Kingdom. While Singapore was a British colony, its national anthem was "God Save the King (or Queen)". In 1951, the colony was conferred city status by a royal charter from King George VI. In 1958, Ong Pang Boon, the Deputy Mayor of the City Council of Singapore, approached Zubir Said, a score arranger and songwriter with Cathay-Keris Film Productions, to compose a theme song for the Council's official functions to be titled Majulah Singapura (Malay for "Onward Singapore"). This phrase was chosen as it was a motto to be displayed in the Victoria Theatre after its renovation in 1958.
Zubir took a year to finish composing the music and lyrics for the song. In a 1984 oral history interview, he recalled the process: "[T]he difficulty is in such a short melody, I have to put in all the words ... [I]t must be very simple, understandable for all the races in Singapore ... I consult also [sic] an author in Malay language so that I can do it in proper Malay language but not too deep and not too difficult." Summing up his philosophy when composing the anthem, Zubir cited the Malay proverb "Di mana bumi dipijak, di situ langit dijunjung" ("You should hold up the sky of the land where you live").
The completed composition was first performed on 6 September 1958 by the Singapore Chamber Ensemble during the grand finale of a concert staged in the Victoria Theatre to celebrate its official reopening.
In 1959, Singapore attained self-government and the City Council was dissolved. The Government felt that a national anthem was needed to unite the different races in Singapore. The Deputy Prime Minister Toh Chin Chye selected the City Council's song as it was already popular. At Toh's request, Zubir modified the lyrics and melody, and the revised song was adopted by the Legislative Assembly on 11 November 1959. On 30 November the Singapore State Arms and Flag and National Anthem Ordinance 1959 was passed to regulate the use and display of these national emblems.
Majulah Singapura was formally introduced to the nation on 3 December when Yusof bin Ishak was inaugurated as the Yang di-Pertuan Negara, Singapore's head of state. At the same occasion, which also marked the launch of "Loyalty Week", the national flag and the state crest were introduced. After Singapore's full independence from Malaysia on 9 August 1965, Majulah Singapura was formally adopted as the Republic's national anthem.
Use of the national anthem
In Singapore primary schools at lower levels, lessons relating to the national anthem and the singing of the national anthem are carried out as part of the civics and moral education programme. The national anthem is sung in all mainstream schools and armed forces camps at ceremonies held at the beginning and/or the end of each day, during which the national flag is also raised and lowered and the national pledge is taken.
Singaporeans are especially encouraged to sing the national anthem on occasions of national celebration or national significance, such as at the National Day Parade, at National Day observance ceremonies conducted by educational institutions and government departments, and at sporting events at which Singapore teams are participating. In November 2004, Olivia Ong, an 18-year-old Singaporean based in Tokyo, sang Majulah Singapura at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifying rounds at Saitama Stadium in Saitama, Japan.
Two months later in January 2005, Singapore Idol Taufik Batisah was invited to become the first performer to sing Majulah Singapura at an international football game at the National Stadium in Singapore – the return leg of the Tiger Cup (now the AFF Football Championship) final between Singapore and Indonesia in Singapore. Due to National Service commitments, Taufik had to decline and was replaced by singer Jai Wahab. In July 2005, Singaporean singer and actress Jacintha Abisheganaden sang the national anthem at the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay during the opening ceremony of the 117th Session of the International Olympic Committee, at which London was selected to host the 2012 Summer Olympics.
It is conventional for persons present when the national anthem is performed to stand with their arms by their sides.
When the national flag is raised or lowered and the anthem is played, persons in military or paramilitary uniforms who are outdoors don their head dress and face the flag. If they are in formation under the orders of a commander, only the commander salutes; otherwise, all service personnel salute. Saluting is unnecessary if service personnel are indoors when a flag raising or lowering ceremony takes place. In such cases, the persons need only stop what they are doing and stand at attention.
The national anthem is played at the sign-on and sign-off of broadcasting hours on TV and radio in Singapore, although this use of the anthem has declined somewhat due to the emergence of 24-hour TV channels and radio stations.
The national anthem has lent its name to the Majulah Connection, a Singapore-based not-for-profit organization set up November 2002 to connect Singapore with overseas Singaporeans and friends of Singapore. The organisation was formally established as a non-governmental organization (NGO) in January 2003.
Guidelines for use
The use of the national anthem is governed by Part IV of the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Rules made under the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Act. These rules provide as follows:
- The national anthem may be performed or sung on any appropriate occasion. In particular, it must be performed when the President receives a general salute.
- When the national anthem is performed or sung, every person present must stand up as a mark of respect.
- As regards musical arrangements of the national anthem:
- Any person performing or singing the national anthem must do so according to the official arrangement set out in the Third Schedule to the Act or any other arrangement permitted under the next paragraph of the Act.
- The national anthem may be rearranged in any manner that is in keeping with the dignity due to it, subject to the following conditions:
- Any person who sings the national anthem must follow the official lyrics and must not sing any translation of those lyrics.
It is an offence for any person to knowingly perform or sing the national anthem in contravention of rule 13(1) (not performing or singing the anthem according to the official arrangement or any other permitted arrangement) or 13(3) (not singing the anthem according to the official lyrics or singing a translation of the lyrics); the penalty is a fine not exceeding S$1,000.
In addition, guidelines issued by the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA) state that either instrumental or vocal versions of the national anthem may be performed, and that dignity and decorum should be observed whenever the anthem is played or sung.
Interviewed by the Oral History Department in 1989, Dr. Toh Chin Chye said it was appropriate for the national anthem to be in Malay, "the indigenous language of the region, as English is not native to this part of the world." He felt that the "Malay version of the national anthem would appeal to all races... it can be easily understood. And at the same time [it] can be easily remembered... [I]t must be brief, to the point; ... and can be sung". However, on 22 July 1991, the English daily newspaper The Straits Times reported that during a meeting between the then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and community leaders, a group of grassroots leaders and a lawyer had suggested that "adjustments" be made to the national anthem. The given reason was that many Singaporeans could not sing it in Malay and therefore did not have "strong feelings" or "strong emotions when they sing the national anthem".
In particular, some grassroots leaders argued that since the Chinese constitute a majority of the population, a Mandarin version of the anthem should be used. The Prime Minister's response was that he would keep the national anthem as it was while ensuring that translations in other mother tongues were more easily available. The proposal to change the lyrics was also criticized by former Deputy Prime Minister S. Rajaratnam, who felt that the Malay lyrics of the anthem were so simple that "anyone over the age of five, unless mentally retarded, had no difficulty singing the anthem. All Singaporean children of kindergarten age have not only had no difficulty memorising the words but have for decades sung it every morning with 'strong feelings and emotion'." He also noted that the anthem had been translated into Singapore's three other official languages (English, Mandarin and Tamil) for those who cannot understand Malay.
A subsequent poll by The Straits Times found that while many Singaporeans knew what the anthem generally meant, only seven out of 35 persons interviewed knew the meaning of each word. However, all but three of those interviewed agreed that the anthem should continue to be sung in Malay. The three persons who disagreed felt that the anthem should be in English because that was the language most commonly used in Singapore. All the interviewees, including those who did not know the meaning of the lyrics, said they felt a sense of pride when they heard or sang the national anthem.
Singer Taufik Batisah was criticised for incorrectly singing the word berseru (to proclaim) instead of bersatu (to unite) during his rendition of Majulah Singapura before the start of the 2009 Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix on 27 September 2009. A Straits Times poll then found that out of 50 people only 10 were able to sing the national anthem perfectly. Most people got between 80 and 90% of the lyrics right, while six could only recite the first line or less. Although many correctly stated that the title of the anthem meant "Onward Singapore", a majority did not understand the meaning of the anthem. However, most of the persons surveyed disagreed that the anthem should be in English, one respondent saying: "It's better in Malay because there's a cultural history to it and [it] is more meaningful, and has traces to our roots."
Arrangements and recordings
An abridged version of Majulah Singapura had been used by official bodies since 1965 although an expanded version, used only at grand ceremonial functions, exists. These versions were arranged by an Englishman, Michael Hurd. This arrangement was first recorded by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Lim Yau in 1989.
The original version of the national anthem was in the key of G major, although in 1983 schools were issued an educational tape describing common mistakes made in singing the anthem and given the option of singing the anthem in F major. In 1993, the shorter version of Majulah Singapura was declared to be the official one.
On 19 January 2001, Majulah Singapura was officially relaunched in the F-major key, as this was said to be a "grander and more inspiring arrangement" of the anthem. The Ministry of Information and the Arts (MITA, now the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI)) took more than a year to produce the new version. Its main objective was to make the anthem more accessible to all Singaporeans. In May 2000, several leading local composers were invited to rearrange the national anthem in F major. An evaluation panel headed by Bernard Tan selected the version submitted by Cultural Medallion winner Phoon Yew Tien. Phoon's orchestration employed a slower tempo and used more instruments to create a majestic rendition of the anthem. MITA then commissioned Ken Lim to produce a recording by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lim Yau, which was carried out at the Victoria Concert Hall on 20 November 2000. The new arrangement was recorded in seven versions, including two orchestral versions (instrumental, and with soloist Jacintha Abisheganaden and the Singapore Youth Choir) and a piano solo version.
|Malay (official lyrics)||English|
Mari kita rakyat Singapura
Come, fellow Singaporeans
சிங்கப்பூர் மக்கள் நாம்
Lái ba, xīnjiāpō rénmín,
Ràng wǒmen gòngtóng xiàng xìngfú màijìn;
Wǒmen chónggāo de lǐxiǎng,
Yào shǐ xīnjiāpō chénggōng.
Lái ba, ràng wǒmen yǐ xīn de jīngshén,
Tuánjié zài yīqǐ;
Wǒmen qí shēng huānhū:
Qiánjìn ba, xīnjiāpō!
Qiánjìn ba, xīnjiāpō!
Lái ba, ràng wǒmen yǐ xīn de jīngshén,
Tuánjié zài yīqǐ;
Wǒmen qí shēng huānhū:
Qiánjìn ba, xīnjiāpō!
Qiánjìn ba, xīnjiāpō!
Ciṅkappūr makkaḷ nām
Celvom makiḻvai nōkkiyē
Ciṟanta nam nāṭṭamē
- Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (1985 Rev. Ed., 1999 Reprint), Art. 153A: "Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English shall be the 4 official languages in Singapore."
- National anthem – Majulah Singapura, Access to Archives Online (a2o), National Archives of Singapore, retrieved 9 December 2007.
- "National anthem originally for City Council", The Straits Times, 9 March 1990: 28.
- Zubir Said (1984), Zubir Said [oral history interview, accession no. 292], National Archives of Singapore. See National anthem – Majulah Singapura, Access to Archives Online (a2o), National Archives of Singapore, retrieved 9 December 2007.
- Zubir Said [oral history interview], above: 1959 – Singapore's State Arms, Flags and National Anthem, NS40, Ministry of Defence, 2007, retrieved 27 August 2007[dead link].
- First performance of National Anthem, Singapore Infopedia, retrieved 17 February 2014.
- Singapore State Arms and Flag and National Anthem Ordinance 1959 (No. 70 of 1959), now the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Act (Cap. 296, 1985 Rev. Ed.).
- Bonny Tan (23 December 2004), The Singapore National Anthem, Singapore Infopedia, National Library Board, retrieved 9 December 2007.
- Frankie Chee; Magdalen Ng (4 October 2009), "Majulah muddle: Many Singaporeans either don't know the words to the national anthem or don't understand the lyrics", The Sunday Times (Singapore) (LifeStyle): 8.
- See also Lee Hsien Loong (17 May 1997), National Education: Speech by BG Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister at the launch of National Education on Saturday 17 May 1997 at TCS TV Theatre at 9.30 am, Ministry of Education, retrieved 4 November 2007, para. 22; Teo Chee Hean (8 July 2003), Getting the fundamentals right: Speech by RADM (NS) Teo Chee Hean, Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence at the NIE Teachers Investiture Ceremony at 2.30 pm on 8 Jul 2003 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, Ministry of Education, retrieved 4 November 2007, para. 18; Press release: Submission of proposals for privately-funded schools, Ministry of Education, 5 June 2006, retrieved 4 November 2007, para. 3.
- The National Anthem – guidelines, Singapore Infomap, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA), 2004, retrieved 9 December 2007.
- For instance, by the National University of Singapore: see "A time to rejoice, a time to remember", Knowledge Enterprise (Singapore: National University of Singapore), September 2002 (updated online 14 October 2002), retrieved 10 December 2007 [dead link].
- See, for example, Leonard Lim (6 June 2005), "This time he gets it right", The New Paper.
- N. Sivasothi (19 September 2006), "Majulah Singapura", a cappella, by Olivia Ong, Otterman Speaks...: Weblog about Cycling, Macintosh, Natural History and Life in Singapore, retrieved 10 December 2007.
- Gary Lim (12 January 2005), "Taufik misses big chance", The New Paper (reproduced on Taufik-Batisah.net – The Original Fan Site).
- Judges: Jacintha Abisheganaden, Singapore Idol, MediaCorp, 2006, retrieved 9 December 2007. See also List of IOC meetings.
- General Order of the Ministry of Defence (GOM) 402-03-01. See Peter Estrop, chmn., ed. committee (April 2006), Our Army: customs and traditions: Understanding why we do what we do, Singapore: Ministry of Defence, p. 27.
- Frequently asked questions, Majulah Connection, 2003, retrieved 9 December 2007, "MC stands for Majulah Connection. In the Malay language, majulah means 'to progress.' Singapore's national anthem is titled Majulah Singapura".
- About us, Majulah Connection, 2006, retrieved 9 December 2007[dead link].
- Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Rules (Cap. 296, R 1, 2004 Rev. Ed.), as amended by the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem (Amendment) Rules 2007 (S 377/2007).
- Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Act (Cap. 296, 1985 Rev. Ed.).
- Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Rules, rule 11(2).
- Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Rules, rule 11(1).
- Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Rules, rule 12.
- Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Rules, rule 13(1).
- Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Rules, rule 13(2).
- Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Rules, rule 13(3).
- Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Rules, rule 14(3).
- Toh Chin Chye (1989), Dr Toh Chin Chye [oral history interview, accession no. A1063, reel 1], National Archives of Singapore. See National anthem – Majulah Singapura, Access to Archives Online (a2o), National Archives of Singapore, retrieved 9 December 2007.
- Tan Hsueh Yun (26 July 1991), "Few understand lyrics of National Anthem", The Straits Times (reproduced on Headlines, Lifelines).
- S. Rajaratnam (9 March 1990 (this date appears to be erroneous)), "Majulah Singapura has been sung patriotically for 32 years", The Straits Times (reproduced on Headlines, Lifelines) .
- The 1989 recording was released on compact disc as Zubir Said (1994), Majulah Singapura: National anthem of Singapore [sound recording], Singapore: Ministry of Information and the Arts. It was contained in The National Symbols Kit, Singapore: Prepared by Programmes Section, Ministry of Information and the Arts, 1999.
- Caroline Boey (6 April 1983), "Learning to sing National Anthem again", The Sunday Monitor.
- "Short version of anthem is official", The Straits Times, 8 May 1993: 32.
- The National Anthem, Singapore Infomap, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA), 2004, retrieved 9 December 2007.
- The National Anthem: Credits, Singapore Infomap, MICA, 2004, retrieved 9 December 2007; Judges: Ken Lim, Singapore Idol, MediaCorp, 2006, retrieved 9 December 2007.
- Zubir Said (2000), Majulah Singapura: The national anthem of Singapore [sound recording], [Singapore]: Ministry of Information and the Arts.
- S.E. Tan (22 January 2001), "It's easier to sing now", The Straits Times (Life!): 1, 6.
- Majulah Singapura – Ministry of Defence
- The National Anthem of Singapore – national symbols section, www.sg
- Singapore: Majulah Singapura – audio recording of the national anthem of Singapore with information and lyrics
- National anthem page, Access to Archives Online (a2o), National Archives of Singapore
- Singapore National Anthem information page at Singapore Infopedia
- National symbols: The National Anthem, Education and Outreach Division, National Heritage Board, 2004, archived from the original on October 21, 2007, retrieved 27 October 2007.
- Singapore's national anthem, National Day Parade Executive Committee, 2007, retrieved 9 December 2007.
Books and other printed material
- Singapore Legislative Assembly (1959), State Arms and Flag and National Anthem of Singapore (Legislative Assembly (New Series) Misc. 2 of 1959), Singapore: Printed at the Government Printing Office.
- The National Symbols Kit, Singapore: Prepared by Programmes Section, Ministry of Information and the Arts, 1999 – a kit on the key symbols of Singapore consisting of eight fact sheets, one booklet, one CD and one national flag.
- Phoon, Yew Tien (2006), Majulah Singapura: Arrangement for Large Orchestra with Choir [music score], Singapore: UTN. Commissioned by National Day Parade 2007 Show Committee for the 2007 Singapore National Day Parade.
- Majulah Singapura [State Anthem of Singapore] [sound recording], Singapore: [s.n.], [19—] . Analog stereo 7-in. sound disc, 45 rpm. Side 1 by band of the Singapore Military Forces; side 2 by Singapore Ministry of Education Choir.
- Zubir Said (1994), Majulah Singapura: National Anthem of Singapore [sound recording], Singapore: Ministry of Information and the Arts. Recorded in 1989, and distributed as part of The National Symbols Kit, above.
- Zubir Said (2000), Majulah Singapura: The National Anthem of Singapore [sound recording], [Singapore]: Ministry of Information and the Arts.
- Majulah Singapura: Count Down Singapore Songs 1958–1986 [videorecording], Singapore: Singapore Broadcasting Corporation, 1986. VHS PAL videocassette, 30 min. A film about the history of the composition of the national anthem and other patriotic songs that was first broadcast on TV in August 1986.
- Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (1988), Flag and Anthem, 3 December 1959 [videorecording], Singapore: Television Corporation of Singapore. A documentary on the national flag and anthem of Singapore. Gives an account on how the present design of the flag was arrived at, and includes an interview with the national anthem's composer, Zubir Said.
- Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts ([2004?]), Majulah Singapura: National Day Video 2004 [videorecording], Singapore: The Moving Visuals Co. for National Heritage Board .