Count On Me, Singapore copyright saga: Indian composer withdraws claims to song following MCCY probe

Mr Joseph Mendoza (left) had claimed that he wrote We Can Achieve in 1983, while Count On Me, Singapore was composed by Canadian Hugh Harrison in 1986.
Mr Joseph Mendoza (left) had claimed that he wrote We Can Achieve in 1983, while Count On Me, Singapore was composed by Canadian Hugh Harrison in 1986.PHOTOS: JOEY MENDOZA/FACEBOOK, COURTESY OF HUGH HARRISON

SINGAPORE - Following a probe by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), Indian composer Joseph Mendoza has admitted that he does not have evidence to prove that he wrote We Can Achieve - a song that is near identical to Singaporean National Day tune Count On Me, Singapore.

Mr Mendoza, who was accused of copying the song, has backtracked and now "does not lay any claim to the lyrics and tune of the song (Count On Me,Singapore)", the Ministry said in a Facebook post on Sunday (March 21).

The songs were at the centre of a plagiarism controversy that erupted last week.

Mr Mendoza had vehemently claimed that he wrote We Can Achieve in 1983, three years before Count On Me, Singapore, which was composed by Canadian Hugh Harrison and arranged by home-grown jazz stalwart Jeremy Monteiro in 1986.

The Straits Times reported Mr Monteiro's first-hand account of being in the room when the song was written in late 1985,and of its completion in 1986.

MCCY, which holds the copyright to the song, cited the contemporaneous evidence of Mr Monteiro, as well as checks it conducted in India which surfaced "no evidence or records whatsoever of Mr Mendoza having any rights to We Can Achieve from 1983 or anytime thereafter".

Along with accepting that the Government of Singapore holds the copyright to the music and lyrics of the song, Mr Mendoza, according to MCCY, has also "unconditionally and irrevocably withdrawn any claims of whatsoever nature, directly or indirectly, with regard to the lyrics and tune of We Can Achieve, which is similar to the song".

"He has informed all of his associates and networks of the above, and instructed all social media platforms to remove We Can Achieve."

MCCY's statement added that: "Mr Mendoza has apologised for the 'confusion caused' and also states that he has no intention of attacking the integrity or professionalism of Mr Hugh Harrison."

The ministry also accepted Mendoza's apology, and reiterated that: "It is important that our rights to the song are protected and that there remains no doubt as to our origination and ownership of the Song. MCCY accepts Mr Mendoza's apology on the terms set out above, and will treat the matter as closed, on this basis."

Monteiro feels that "it's a good outcome for everyone concerned",

He told The Straits Times: "There are a few different copyright and legal issues there, but having been involved, I think it's been handled well by everyone."

"To me, it's no longer an issue - as both a director in Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (Compass) and as a musician involved in the process."