In the ongoing copyright saga of ‘Count on Me Singapore’, Joseph Mendoza who is accused of copying the Singapore national song, has produced video testimonies of two former orphans from the Bal Bhavan Orphanage saying that they remember learning the Indian version of the song that Mendoza composed back in 1983.
Mendoza has claimed that he composed the song 3 years before Singapore released its version during the National Day celebrations in 1986. The song, ‘Count on Me Singapore’, was composed by Hugh Harrison, arranged by Jeremy Monteiro and performed by Clement Chow. The song was commissioned by the then Ministry of Culture in the mid-80s and is now owned by the Singapore government. The 2 songs are almost the same except for the words “India” or “Mother India” replacing the word “Singapore”.
Earlier, Mr Harrison wrote on his YouTube Channel saying that Mendoza has “illegally” repackaged the Singapore national song. Mr Harrison also wrote to Mendoza asking him to rescind his ownership claim.
The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) has originally said last week that it was investigating potential copyright infringement. Then last Fri (12 Mar), it changed its stand saying that the song “seems to have struck a chord with people in India as well”.
“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!” MCCY wrote on its Facebook page.
Yesterday (18 Mar), MCCY changed its position again, now asking Mendoza to “substantiate” his claim that he wrote the Indian version of the song “We Can Achieve” in 1983, before “Count on Me, Singapore” was released in 1986.
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 (Mendoza’s) claim.”
Mendoza continues to maintain that he is the original composer and even attributed the whole incident as “coincidental” (‘Man in India now says it could all be “coincidental” that SG national song and his version are similar‘).
Mendoza produces two witnesses
After MCCY asked Mendoza to produce proof of his ownership claim, Mendoza, who emailed a copy of his reply to TODAY, told MCCY that he can send recently taken videos of people who were children at the orphanage singing it in 1983, “testifying that they’ve learnt the song” before the release of the Singapore’s version.
He also said the 250 children at the orphanage are “living proof” that he was the original composer of the song.
Mendoza further sent TODAY two videos of two different women yesterday (18 Mar), one who said that she was in the Bal Bhavan Orphanage from 1976 to 1989 and another who said that she was in the orphanage in 1983. Both said that they remember learning the song that he composed.
“I am not interested in any court or to justify anything… I don’t earn anything out of this,” he wrote in an email to TODAY. “I look for neither money nor fame from this situation… (I) only seek the peace and goodwill of my Singaporean brethren.”
When asked for providing physical evidence, he replied they were destroyed in a flood, “All proof such as cassettes and sheets, that were proof of the performance, conception and originality of the work got washed away in the deluge of July 26, 2005 as the ground floor was completely submerged throughout Mumbai.”
He added that the Shanmukhananda Sabha hall where the performance was held burnt down in February 1990 and there is thus no record of it.
In an earlier statement, he also said that his song “has been used in different schools, colleges and B’Ed institutes (in India), in different variants and has been used widely and well”. He said, “It’s a very popular song here and loved by all.”
He asked for MCCY’s suggestions on what he should do next.
Many netizens, however, are not convinced that Mendoza has composed the song himself.
One netizen even noted that the song does not rhyme with the word “India”:
“Count on me India, count on me to give my best and more…”
He noted that with the word “Singapore”, it rhymes perfectly with the word “more” in the song:
“Count on me Singapore, count on me to give my best and more…”