Malaysian man can sing 112 national anthems by heart

Malaysian Thean See Xien picked up his singing hobby 15 years ago out of boredom, but now uses it to win friends from all over the world.
Malaysian Thean See Xien picked up his singing hobby 15 years ago out of boredom, but now uses it to win friends from all over the world.SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE/SCMP

In-house counsel Thean See Xien speaks two languages: English and Bahasa Malaysia, and the latter not particularly well.

But the Malaysian can sing 112 national anthems from memory.

The 31-year-old told the South China Morning Post (SCMP) that he picked up this quirky singing hobby 15 years ago out of boredom.

In an interview with Bernama more than five years ago, he said: "I came across MP3s of national anthems when looking for good music to download, and I decided it would be kind of fun to try and learn them.

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"At the same time I would try to learn more about the country where the anthem was from. After that it just snowballed from there. I learned more and more and eventually it became a passion of mine, which I still harbour today."

He does not think singing in different languages that he does not understand is particularly hard.

"Remember the K-pop craze, where everyone was singing songs in Korean without knowing the language? It's a similar principle."

People apparently tell Mr Thean that he sounds almost like a native speaker, but he finds it easier to sing in certain languages than in others. Arabic and Danish are very hard, for instance, while Spanish, German and French are easier for him.

He added: "And it's interesting to see how the national anthems differ. For example, national anthems from South America are often quite long. You also get to learn a lot of interesting history, like how the Indian and Bangladeshi national anthems are written by the same poet, Tagore."

He credited his hobby with helping him make many international friends, especially when he pursued his university education in the United Kingdom.

Even back in Kuala Lumpur, where he is now based, it still wins him expat and local friends at the pub.

He told SCMP that despite the fair amount of attention he has received over the years, he does not want to monetise his hobby because "that would take the fun out of it".

He will, however, continue to learn national anthems from every country on all the continents.

"It's too bad about Antarctica. But if penguins taught me a national anthem, I'd do my best to learn it," he quipped.