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Edwin Tong says govt was prepared to take legal action over Count on Me copyright claims

Mendoza retracted claims when pressed for proof

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Singapore — Responding in Parliament to a question by Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai (PSP), Culture, Community and Youth Minister Edwin Tong said on Monday (Apr 5) that the government was prepared to initiate legal proceedings over ownership claims of the national song Count on Me, Singapore.

Mr Leong had wanted to know the actions the government had taken to protect Singapore’s copyright on the song.

Mr Tong explained that when the publisher of the song We Can Achieve, Mr Joey Mendoza, made his claims, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) “pressed Mr Mendoza to substantiate his claims. If he could not, then he should withdraw them. We were prepared to initiate legal proceedings, if necessary, to protect our position.”

He added that the ministry also undertook “extensive fact-checking” to refute Mr Mendoza’s claims and obtained evidence of Mr Hugh Harrison composing Count on Me, Singapore.

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In response to MCCY’s request for proof, Mr Mendoza retracted his claims and asked his associates and their networks to remove the song.

“We have thus let the matter rest on this basis,” Mr Tong said, according to a CNA report.

When the matter first came to light on March 15, Mr Mendoza said “that the original version of the song ‘We Can Achieve’ was first written at Bal Bhavan, Mumbai, in 1983, and thereafter performed on 1st May, 1983”.

He added that the Singapore version, “Count on Me Singapore”, was only produced in 1986.

The original 1986 song was composed by Hugh Harrison and sung by Clement Chow, and is widely recognised as one of the catchiest patriotic Singapore songs ever written.

“I don’t hold claim to the ‘Count on me Singapore’ song. With no intention to hurt anyone’s feelings, I want to lay the fact clear that I’ve written the ‘We Can Achieve’ song’,” Mr Mendoza wrote.

However, MCCY added that when it “pressed Mr Mendoza to substantiate his claims”, the latter said that he does not have any evidence to do so. He also does not lay any claim to the lyrics and tune of the song.

In its Facebook post, MCCY added that Mr Mendoza accepts that the Singapore Government holds the copyright to the music and lyrics of the “Song”.

Read related: Another Indian composer steals ‘Count on Me, S’pore’ song and sells it for 67 cents

Despite MCCY’s attempts, yet another Indian composer has been found to have altered the lyrics to Count On Me Singapore and is selling it online for S$0.67.

The composer, one Gnani Ni Chhayama, has changed the lyrics and is selling the track on bandcamp.com.

According to the website, the track was released on Jan 1, 2015. /TISGFollow us on Social Media

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