Go on, take up the anthem challenge

A 2012 concert staged in memory of the late Zubir Said, who composed Singapore's national anthem Majulah Singapura.
A 2012 concert staged in memory of the late Zubir Said, who composed Singapore's national anthem Majulah Singapura. PHOTO: ESPLANADE THEATRES ON THE BAY

50-day challenge aims to spread awareness of what the lines in Majulah Singapura mean

It may be sung at national events and school assemblies islandwide, but some Singaporeans may not know the meaning of the National Anthem when they sing it.

Worse still, they may mispronounce certain words, giving the anthem a different meaning - which mortified Mr Raymond Huang, 49, founder of non-profit youth organisation Heartware Network.

For instance, he heard some young people singing the opening lines of Majulah Singapura wrongly. Some sang "Mari kita rah-rah", or "Mari kita raya".

"Then they tell me, Mr Raymond, because there's hari raya here," said Mr Huang.

"I was flabbergasted," he added.


  • The music and lyrics of Majulah Singapura were composed by the late Zubir Said.

    Upon Singapore's Independence in 1965, it was adopted as the Republic's National Anthem.

    Majulah Singapura

    Mari kita rakyat Singapura

    Sama-sama menuju bahagia

    Cita-cita kita yang mulia

    Berjaya Singapura

    Marilah kita bersatu

    Dengan semangat yang baru

    Semua kita berseru

    Majulah Singapura

    Majulah Singapura

    English translation

    Onward Singapore

    Come, fellow Singaporeans

    Let us progress towards happiness together

    May our noble aspiration bring Singapore success

    Come, let us unite

    In a new spirit

    Let our voices soar as one

    Onward Singapore

    Onward Singapore

    Source: National Heritage Board


To fix this, he started what he calls the 50-day Anthem Challenge three weeks ago.

He, too, had come to the sobering realisation that he did not know the meaning of the words when he sang the anthem last month.

"People are lipping the anthem, but don't spare a thought for what the words actually mean," Mr Huang said.

For the challenge, he is encouraging youth to post videos of themselves singing two lines of the National Anthem on social media platforms such as Facebook. Challenge participants will provide an English translation of the Malay lyrics, and explain what the lines mean.

After that, they are supposed to tag a number of their friends, who will then record themselves singing the next two lines, and include a translation and explanation.

Through this, Mr Huang hopes to spread awareness of the National Anthem's meaning. He aims to make this an annual affair that will start 50 days before National Day.

He has already kicked off the challenge by singing the anthem's first two lines and tagging six people to carry on where he left off.

"There are more than 20 people doing it now. I hope to get all the young people involved in this year's National Day Parade to participate," he said.

One of them is recent graduate Ronald Wee, 27, who has carried on with the next two lines of the anthem. "It helped me find out what the words in the anthem mean," said Mr Wee.

"The anthem is just eight lines and there will be repeat videos explaining the same lines, but the repetition will help reinforce the meaning," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2015, with the headline 'Go on, take up the anthem challenge'. Print Edition | Subscribe