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Count on Me, Singapore dispute: Indian composer concedes claim to song, MCCY says

SINGAPORE — The Indian composer at the centre of a controversy involving a Singapore National Day song has backed down from his claim of being the original composer of the song, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) said.

Count on Me, Singapore dispute: Indian composer concedes claim to song, MCCY says

Mr Joseph Conrad Mendoza has withdrawn all claims of having written the song We Can Achieve before Canadian Hugh Harrison composed Count on Me, Singapore for the 1986 National Day celebrations here.

  • The Indian composer who said he composed We Can Achieve has backed down from his claim
  • The song had been the subject of a heated debate over its similarities to the 1986 Singapore National Day song Count on Me, Singapore
  • MCCY said Mr Mendoza has since withdrawn his claims and apologised for the confusion caused
  • It is important that Singapore’s rights to the song are protected, MCCY said

 

SINGAPORE — The Indian composer at the centre of a controversy involving a Singapore National Day song has backed down from his claim of being the original composer of the song, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) said.

In a Facebook post on Sunday (March 21), MCCY said Mr Joseph Conrad Mendoza has withdrawn all claims of having written the song We Can Achieve before Canadian Hugh Harrison composed Count on Me, Singapore for the 1986 National Day celebrations here.

“Following our correspondence with him, Mr Mendoza has changed his earlier position,” MCCY wrote.

It added that Mr Mendoza does not have any evidence to support his claim and has accepted that the Singapore Government holds the copyright to the music and lyrics of the song.

The song We Can Achieve had been the subject of heated online debate in the past week after videos of what appeared to be students in India singing it surfaced on social media.

Many in the online community expressed anger over what they saw as a blatant copy of an enduring patriotic song widely sung here — Count on Me, Singapore — which had all references to “Singapore” in the lyrics replaced with “India”.

MCCY said on Sunday that Mr Mendoza has apologised for the confusion caused and told the ministry that he had no intention of attacking the integrity or professionalism of Mr Harrison.

It added that Mr Mendoza’s earlier claims were “untenable”.

“There is not only contemporaneous evidence to support this, but also first-hand accounts such as those of Mr Jeremy Monteiro, a well-respected Singaporean musician who has himself been involved in the making of several national songs,” MCCY wrote.

Mr Monteiro, who arranged Count on Me, Singapore, has confirmed that he was with Mr Harrison when the song was developed and saw its evolution, MCCY said.

MCCY’s checks in India also turned up no evidence or records of Mr Mendoza having any rights to We Can Achieve from 1983 or anytime later.

Mr Mendoza, also known as Joey Mendoza, had earlier dug his heels in when questioned about his claim to being the original songwriter.

The 58-year-old based in Mumbai told TODAY last Thursday that he had written We Can Achieve in April 1983 and taught it to children from the Bal Bhavan Orphanage, but claimed that all cassettes and written documents of the performance were washed away in the 2005 Mumbai floods.

When pressed by MCCY for evidence, he replied that he could send the ministry videos of people who were children at the orphanage singing it in 1983 “testifying that they’ve learnt the song”.

He sent TODAY two recently taken videos by two different women speaking to the camera and saying they were in the orphanage in 1983 and remembered learning We Can Achieve from Mr Mendoza.

On Sunday, MCCY said that Mr Mendoza has since instructed all social media platforms to remove copies of We Can Achieve.

“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 wrote.

“MCCY accepts Mr Mendoza’s apology on the terms set out above, and will treat the matter as closed, on this basis.”

TODAY has approached Mr Mendoza for comment.

Related topics

Count on Me Singapore Song MCCY Joey Mendoza copyright India

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