On Thursday, a certain Mr Victor Khoo wrote to the Straits Times Forum page to say that i’ts the song that matters not the singer, with reference to the rather strange — if not wasteful — custom that’s become standard fare for our annual National Day celebrations: far from memorable newly minted “National Day” songs.
Mr Khoo declared “There is nothing wrong with the two classics, Count On Me Singapore and Stand Up For Singapore, which are inspirational and tug at the heartstrings.”
To which, judging from the support he’s got in today’s Forum page, many Singaporeans say “amen”. I join them.
Count on Me and Stand Up certainly tug at my heart strings, as compared to the effete Home which could refer to any place, anywhere, not necessarily Singapore.
If I remember correctly Count on Me and Stand Up came into being in the mid 80s when Singapore suffered its then worst ever recession, after jacking up CPF rates to unprecedented levels in an attempt to raise productivity and force industries to upgrade.
Anyway, all that’s history.
Singapore has become more sophisticated and with sophistication came goose bumps of a different kind when overtly patriotic songs like Count and Stand were sung.
Opinion leaders in Singapore declared the songs jingoistic, nationalistic, in short country bumpkin which didn’t sit well with those Singaporeans who thought of themselves as global citizens first, and Singaporeans second.
And believe it or not, our consultative Government actually bought that argument. Hence the run of low-key songs apres Count and Stand.
I’m delighted that Singaporeans are now more comfortable with what we are, so that we are daring to stand up for the songs that declare our love for our country overtly, instead of doing it covertly, with cutesy singers with soft focus backgrounds.
If the Brits can still sing with gusto Rule Britannia and the Labour Party the Red Flag in the 21st century, I don’t see why Singaporeans can’t continue to Stand Up and Count for Singapore unabashedly?