Have you heard the new rendition of Singapore’s national anthem ‘Majulah Singapura’? When the government announced that it would introduce a new rendition of the national anthem performed by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, the internet wasn’t too keen on the idea.
Netizens questioned the need for a new rendition when the current one is so beloved and many worried how different the anthem would sound.
One Singaporean, Mr Lee Leng Kok who is an audio restoration specialist, took to Facebook to share the actual original version of the national anthem, noting that it is different from the version that many Singaporeans are familiar with today.
He pointed out that the old and newly recorded versions of the national anthem are abridged versions of Mr Zubir Said’s composition which was edited at the request of the government when Singapore became independent in 1965.
The first version of the anthem was actually introduced in 1959 when Singapore became a self-governed state under the British.
Mr Lee said he had uploaded a 78-rpm record of the remastered anthem which he said was the original. However, a friend of his, Lai Chee Kian, corrected him to say that the version he uploaded was not actually the earliest version of Majulah Singapura.
Lai gave Mr Lee the original version along with the lyrics. Mr Lee said “at that moment I thought he was coming to pick a fight, because the lyrics he gave had the word ‘Sentosa’”.
But then Mr Lee says he remembered that he has a flexi disc recording of the National anthem, however it was severely bent, meaning it couldn’t be played in its entirety. From the bits that he could hear, Mr Lee said he heard the original version which was recorded in 1958 and released at the Victoria Theatre in 1959.
Later, another friend, Lee Siu Pan, gave Mr Lee a collection of albums which included another album just like Mr Lee’s damaged flexi disc. With that undamaged album, Mr Lee could finally complete the remastered version of the actual original national anthem.
Mr Lee noted that this 33 rpm flexi disc is rare and doesn’t play on an electric gramophone. Instead, the disc is moulded with wider grooves, requiring a 78 needle stylus to play it at 33 rpm.
Mr Lee shared the remastered version of the original national anthem which you can listen to here: