Singapore celebrates it’s 51st birthday today and the girls have been well and truly indoctrinated with the full gamut of “National Day songs” in the run up to the big day. National Day songs are a bit of a unique tradition here. The Singapore government commissions a new song every year to be the “National Day song” – which gets released a month before National Day, is played incessantly on TV and radio, and becomes the theme song for the annual National Day Parade. Inevitably, some tunes are duds, but some stand the test of time and get replayed and re-performed in schools and kindergartens across the land, year after year.
Stand Up for Singapore was the first ever National Day song, written in 1984, and is deeply embedded in the national psyche. The girls love singing along and have made a suitably patriotic, enthusiastic (and very silly) music video featuring some well-known local landmarks. Hope you like it!
It’s interesting to note how the tone and message of the various songs reflect the national mood over the decades. The early ones were written to inspire people to pull together towards the collective goal of building up a young nation. Later on, some songs emphasized racial harmony and unity; others were accused of being thinly-veiled attempts to romanticize Singapore and attract overseas Singaporeans back home when the issue of “brain drain” was a hot topic. In more recent years, tunes have taken on a forward-looking feel about the country’s future aspirations.
As I’ve mentioned before, the government is very hands-on in its efforts to promote national identity, racial harmony and a cohesive society. For example, it goes as far as to control the ratio of different races living in its social housing estates to reflect the overall national mix and prevent ghettoes. Building a sense of national identity, duty and good citizenship is a major goal of primary schooling here.
But in the wake of recent global crises surrounding race, immigration and national identity, I am actually pretty glad the government here is very proactive in educating its multi-racial population and does its best to maintain balance and harmony, even in the face of much criticism and skepticism over its (sometimes heavy-handed) policies. So I’ll happily put up with the fact that singing these (inevitably cheesy, but fun!) songs is going to be an inescapable part of our girls’ childhood!
Happy National Day!