I was born in 1935 during the reign of King George V of Great Britain. Singapore then was a British colony and every morning at the school assembly students sang the National Anthem ‘God Save The King’. When King George VI ascended the British throne the same National Anthem continued until the British lost Singapore to the Japanese Imperial Army.
By then I attended a Japanese school at Koon Seng Road and sang Japanese National Anthem “Kimigayo” every school morning for about three years. The British returned to Singapore after the war and we went back to ‘God Save The King’. I remembered at the cinema halls, God Save The King was played before the show started. Everybody stood at attention but few sang the anthem. I can still sing both the British as well as the Japanese National Anthems fairly well. During an interview for a television documentary, I was asked to sing God Save The King and I did it. In June 1953, Queen Elizabeth II was crown Queen of Great Britain. The British National Anthem changed from God Save The King to God Save The Queen.
In 1963 Singapore merged with Malaysia and ‘Negara Ku’ became our National Anthem. It was only for a short period before Singapore left Malaysia.
On 9 August 1965 Singapore became an independent state and a Republic. We have our own national anthem 'Majulah Singapura'. I understand the lyrics in Bahasa and feel very proud singing our national anthem.
Looking back, I sang the national anthem of Great Britain through the reign of three British monarchs – King George V, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II, Japanese national anthem ‘Kimigayo’ during the Japanese occupation, and Singapore’s very own national anthem ‘Majulah Singapura’, except ‘Negara Ku’ of Malaysia.
Back to our national anthem Majulah Singapura, how many Singaporeans really know the meaning of our national anthem in Bahasa. Majority especially those born after Singapore’s independence sang the national anthem without knowing its meaning. Can’t blame them for they do not learn Bahasa in schools. Therefore, it is high time that our national anthem be translated into English or a new national anthem in English be written so that Singaporeans can understand its meaning and be proud of it.