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MCCY ‘puzzled’ by Indian composer’s claim over Count on Me, Singapore, asks him to substantiate it

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) said it is “puzzled” by Indian composer Joseph Conrad Mendoza’s claim that he wrote the original version of Count on Me, Singapore, and has asked him to substantiate his claims.

A screenshot of a video showing people in India singing a song that sounds close to Count on Me, Singapore.

A screenshot of a video showing people in India singing a song that sounds close to Count on Me, Singapore.

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SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) said that it is “puzzled” by Indian composer Joseph Conrad Mendoza’s claim that he wrote the original version of Count on Me, Singapore, and has asked him to substantiate his claims.

In a Facebook post on Thursday (March 18) morning, the ministry said that it has contacted Mr Mendoza and is awaiting his response.

The statement came after videos of students at an Indian school singing a song titled We Can Achieve circulated online this past week. 

The song is almost identical to Count on Me, Singapore, which was the National Day song in 1986 during celebrations here. It was composed by Canadian Hugh Harrison. 

In the videos that first circulated last week, all references to “Singapore” in the lyrics had been replaced with “India”.

Responding to TODAY earlier this week, Mr Mendoza claimed that he wrote the song in April 1983 and taught it to children from the Bal Bhavan Orphanage in Mumbai.

He said that he later sold the rights to the song to publishing house Pauline Communications, and the track was released as part of a CD called We Can Achieve — Inspirational Songs for Children and All in 1999.

But Mr Harrison has refuted Mr Mendoza’s claims, reiterating that he had written the original song, with input from a government official, a colleague from the advertising firm where he was working at the time, as well as Singapore jazz veteran Jeremy Monteiro, who arranged the piece.

In a Facebook post last Sunday evening, Pauline Communications apologised and said it was unaware that Count on Me, Singapore has been used in Singapore’s National Day celebrations since 1986.

In its statement on Thursday, MCCY said that the Singapore Government holds the copyright to the music and lyrics of Count on Me, Singapore.

On Mr Medoza's assertion that he wrote We Can Achieve in 1983, MCCY said: "Given that the two songs, and their lyrics, are practically identical, and that we hold the copyright to Count on Me, Singapore, we are puzzled by this claim."

It added: “While Count on Me, Singapore is one of our most beloved national songs, we are also happy that it seems to have been well appreciated in India, with the video showing teachers and students in a school performing the song, and expressing their love for their own country." 

“We do not think any ill will was intended either by Pauline India or the school, and have accepted the apology.”

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Count on Me Singapore National Day song MCCY India

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