It was reported earlier that Indian public relation firm, Pauline Communications, came forward on Sunday (14 Mar) pointing out that it had bought the rights to the music and lyrics of Singapore’s national song ‘Count on Me Singapore’ from a man by the name of Joey Mendoza who claimed to have owned it.
The Indian version of the Singapore national song is titled differently under a new title “We Can Achieve”. In it, the lyrics were changed with all mentions of “Singapore” transcribed to “India” or “Mother India”. Multiple plagiarized versions of the song were found to have been uploaded online sometime between July last year and January this year.
Subsequently, Mendoza, responded claiming that he, in fact, is the composer of the song. He said that the original version ‘We Can Achieve’ was first written at Bal Bhavan institute in Mumbai in 1983. He even claimed that this song was publicly performed in India on 1 May, 1983 (‘SG national song plagiarism fiasco: Man says he wrote song in India while ex-PR exec says he wrote it for SG‘).
“Thereafter it has been used in different schools, colleges and B’Ed institutes (in India), in different variants and has been used widely and well. It’s a very popular song here and loved by all,” Mendoza claimed.
“In 1999 Pauline (India) decided to produce the original version since there were many variants going across. Singapore released its national song ‘Count on Me Singapore’ in 1986… With due honour to Singapore, I was not aware of this song until two days ago.”
He then added, “With no intention to hurt anyone’s feelings, I want to lay the fact clear that I’ve written the ‘We Can Achieve’ song.”
On Mendoza’s Facebook page, he wrote that he is a former composer and producer at Paisley Creative Studios and studied at Musicians Institute (MI) located at Hollywood, California.
PR agency commissioned by SG govt to write national songs
The song ‘Count on Me Singapore’ was, in fact, written by Hugh Harrison who was working for the McCann-Erickson advertising agency in the 80s. McCann-Erickson was commissioned by the then Ministry of Culture of Singapore to come up with a campaign for the 25th anniversary of self-governance of Singapore in 1984.
Mr Harrison told the media in 2013 that after he wrote the first song, ‘Stand Up For Singapore’, which was a hit among Singaporeans, he left for a job in Hong Kong. While there, he got word that the Singapore government wanted a new song “that was directed at the country’s youth”.
He said, “On the plane from Hong Kong to Singapore, I had a vision of young people standing together resolutely shouting to their leaders ‘You can count on us!’” And so ‘Count On Me Singapore’ was then written over a weekend, he recalled. He went on to write his third Singapore national song, ‘We Are Singapore’.
When Mendoza in India started claiming that he was the one who has written the song, netizens began to inform Mr Harrison about it on his YouTube channel.
Today (17 Mar), Mr Harrison informed everyone on his YouTube channel that he has written to both Mendoza and the executive of Pauline Communications in Mumbai requesting that “certain actions be taken to address Mr Mendoza’s false claims to be the original creator of this song”.
“I will let you know if and when I get a reply and how I intend to respond should corrective action not be forthcoming,” he told everyone. “Thank you all for your kind words and support.”
He deemed Mendoza has “illegally” repackaged the Singapore national song, “Count on me Singapore” as “We Can Achieve”.
Mr Harrison also added that Pauline Communications clearly has the right to sue Mendoza for “selling them a song to which he had no rights”.
“The fact that he is claiming now in 2021 that he is the original creator of the song implying I copied the song from him is a direct attack on my integrity and professionalism and for that he could be sued for slander and/or libel,” Mr Harrison noted.
“As it stands now, I have written him and given him the opportunity to rescind his claim and am awaiting his response.”
MCCY: “Imitation is the best form of flattery!”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Culture, Community & Youth (MCCY) under Minister Edwin Tong, who used to defend Kong Hee in the City Harvest trial before Tong became a minister, does not appear to want to do anything about the matter.
MCCY said last Fri (12 Mar), “We have noticed that a remixed version of our national song ‘Count on Me, Singapore’ has been made it into several videos. This is one of our most beloved and recognised national songs.”
“We are happy that it seems to have struck a chord with people in India as well,” it added.
“We thank Singaporeans for coming forward to express your sense of pride in our national song. It may be a copy of our song, but sometimes, imitation is the best form of flattery!”