Andrew Loh / Deputy Editor

Tired of the usual manufactured National Day videos we see every year on tv, we decided that we would try and create one of our own – one which reflects what we feel, the things which are important to us – the values we cherish which we may not yet have.

Thus, this National Day video titled, “The Five Stars Of Our Flag”. We are indebted to the band, Blackstar, for the original song which they wrote specially for this video. (Read article below.) (Download the song here.)

Using the values of the five stars on our flag as reference, we hope that the song and the video will adequately represent what we, Singaporeans, feel and hope for. Happy National Day, everyone. Here is the video.

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TOC interviewed members of Blackstar and ask them about the song, Singapore, National Day – and what they would say to the Prime Minister.

“This is not your usual national day song; that is, it does not espouse our foundation myth ad nauseam. This song was written to reflect our true feelings towards our nation,” says Blackstar’s lead singer Junren.

He is referring to the song “Is this our home?” which the band wrote for The Online Citizen’s (TOC) National Day video. Indeed, the song is as far-removed as you can get from the usual national songs which Singaporeans are bombarded with during the month of August every year.

“I think most people and kids don’t dig the songs because the songs sound fake,” says band member, Weiyang. “It’s not because it’s not hip or funky or contemporary enough (though the people in charge think so). For me a good song is real and felt and meant, not manufactured. A lot of National Day songs, regardless of whether they were or not, sound manufactured.”

Blackstar is made up of five members – Junren on vocals, Weiyang and Bingyuan on guitars, Mark on drums and Weijia, who is also a member of TOC, on bass. According to its website on myspace, (http://www.myspace.com/blackstarmilitia) the band describes its music as “a unique blend of metal, hard rock and alternative that is often confrontational and politically incorrect.”

However, don’t be mistaken that the band is just a bunch of “angst-ridden, highly-destructive and alcohol-fuelled” members because of the music it plays. “We are actually patriots at heart,” the band declares on its website.

“Patriotism is often sugar-coated and commercially produced,” says guitarist Bingyuan. “We wanted to write something that shows [our] concern about our country and the reality that bites and usually ignored. Our own brand of patriotism.”

Junren explains that reflecting on what Singapore has done – rightly or wrongly – should be something we do on National Day. “This reflection should be done not only by those at the top, but by the citizens as well,” he says. Band mate Weijia agrees. “The song is about reflecting on [the] values that have been drilled into us since young. While [they have] undoubtedly helped us reach where we are today, it may perhaps be time to consider what we have sidelined along the way, and how we can bring that back to become truly well- rounded citizens.”

The most important thing, says Junren, is for people to take a stand. “Whether you agree with us, or not, it’s fine. The most important thing is that you are not spoonfed to think with a certain mindset.” This is something which the band is passionate about. “We want people to think, and to feel,” says Weiyang. “We hope to provoke thoughts, not dull them.”

Asked if they would consider themselves a political band, Weiyang rejects that idea. “We do not engage in politics although some of us are greatly disturbed by the politics in this nation,” he says, “and by some of the things that this government has done.” This is reflected in the lyrics of the song:

We have closed our minds and fed our hearts to our hunger to achieve…”

And:

Enough talk about your prosperity… what we really need is brave justice… for we have lost our basic faculties… of conscience, of conscience…”

Singapore is home

But before you think that the band hates everything about Singapore, the members, however, feel that Singapore is indeed home to them. “Yes. Singapore is my home. 100%. It is because I feel for this place that I want to be able to be a part of its culture, its politics,” says Weiyang, “and its future.” Weijia shares this sentiment. “Yes, if I didn’t think Singapore was my home, I couldn’t care less about the future of this place,” he says, “I won’t even be bothered to pen this song.”

So what is the best thing about Singapore?

To Weiyang, it’s “Mambo Night”. “A truly Singaporean experience. We should be f****** proud of this. And Singlish,” he says, “God bless Singlish.” Weijia’s list includes peace, the food, and Singlish too. “It is a part of our culture, a little piece of local tongue that’s impenetrable to outsiders.”

Singapore’s culture is, to Junren, the best thing about Singapore. “I don’t mean the usual racial harmony and what-not that the govt throws at us. Just take a look around those non-commercialised, non-touristy nooks, crannies, and back-alleys of Singapore. Also, the food, the indescribable slang, all these (and more) make up the culture of Singapore.”

“There’s this enchanting thing about Singapore that you definitely cannot find overseas,” he adds.

What about the worse things about Singapore? The band members didn’t mince their words. Weijia’s concerns include the lack of freedom of expression and the lack of an independent media. He also feels that the way the people are treated – “as dumb peasants who are always asking for handouts and are always on the brink of riot and revolt with no constructive views whatsoever” – are among the things he dislikes.

To Weiyang and Junren, it is certain people who get under their skins. “People who complain but don’t do anything about it. People who are afraid to stand up or even talk. People who don’t want to help one another. People who are unfriendly,” Weiyang says. “People like you and me.”

“The whine-alot-but-don’t-do-anything attitude. I guess this is the by-product of us being molly-coddled for too long,” explains Junren, “we need to grow up.”

Courage of our forefathers

Change is what is needed, according to Weiyang. However, it has to start with the people themselves. “If one day magically it was like ‘hey, tomorrow there will be freedom of speech!’, it’s not going to change anything because the people haven’t changed. We haven’t changed.The change has to start with us,” he says. “Whether or not we want to is another thing, but first we have to start asking the questions. And I think we’re just getting to that now.”

One of those questions, perhaps, is the one about identity, of being Singaporean, and whether Singapore is home. Weijia hopes that the song will make people think about what matters here. “We must start taking ownership of the future of our country, so that we can protect and preserve the things that make Singapore our home,” he says. “Hopefully, we can find the courage that our forefathers had in making this country.”

“We want them to question,” Weiyang says. “To stop accepting. To wake up. To be able to take a stand, that’s something we need to learn how to do. To decide ‘hey I don’t agree with this f****** band’ or maybe ‘hey I do’. Either way it’s a good thing.”

Finally, TOC asked the band members what they would say to the Prime Minister.

Weijia: “You are the leader of our country. A leader must be seen and be heard. A leader must lead by example. Please be a leader.”

Weiyang: “HAHA. Good question. I’d tell him that he’s doing a good job, but to chillax a bit. I think the government is evolving, albeit too slowly… They should take it easy on Chee Soon Juan, man. They say Singaporeans are paranoid, that includes the government too. We’re scared of them but they’re overly afraid of us too.”

Junren: “Mee siam ai hum mai?”

And their wish for Singapore and Singaporeans on National Day?

“That every Singaporean go to www.myspace.com/blackstarmilitia and of course www.theonlinecitizen.com ,” says Junren.

“Buying us a beer would be nice too.”

———–

Do visit Blackstar’s website www.myspace.com/blackstarmilitia and get to know the band better and listen to their other songs. [They are one of the best bands around, seriously.)

The full version of the song, “Is this our home?” can be downloaded here.

TOC thanks Junren, Weiyang, Mark, Bingyuan and Weijia for committing so much time and effort in creating and recording the song.

We would also like to thank Seelan Palay and watchtowerv for their input and contribution.

Lastly, this video would not have been possible if not for Rachel Zeng, who worked many late nights rushing to edit it, even when she was sick. Thanks so very very much, Rachel… Visit her blog here: http://rachelabsinthe.multiply.com/

————

Is this our home?

We have closed our minds and fed our hearts

to our hunger to achieve

Reject the different for they spoil the beat

of our embrace of your dreams

We have grown together with

a common noise, one direction

A… pathy…

Proud proud people we stand

But is this our home?

And when we look back

we ask

Is this our home?

Enough talk about your prosperity

What we really need is brave justice

For we have lost our basic faculties

of conscience, of conscience

So…li…darity….

Proud proud people we stand

But is this our home?

And when we look back,

we ask,

Is this our home?

Nihilistic

and

Sardonic

So pragmatic

So robotic

Golden spoonfed,

Based on merit

Materialistic,

Our democracy

Proud proud people we stand

But is this our home?

And when we look back,

we ask,

Is this our home?

———-

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