Singapore victorious in song squabble over ‘untenable’ authorship claims

Joseph Mendonza poses with the head of a Mumbai orphanage where he said he claimed to have penned an earlier version of ‘Count on Me, Singapore.’ Photo: Joey Mendoza
Joseph Mendonza poses with the head of a Mumbai orphanage where he said he claimed to have penned an earlier version of ‘Count on Me, Singapore.’ Photo: Joey Mendoza

The great patriotic anthem saga that has consumed Singapore for the past week has finally reached its coda after the Indian composer who claimed to be the author of Count On Me, Singapore, evidently fessed up that it was all bogus.

The culture ministry yesterday said the whole thing was settled and that it indeed holds the rights to the 1986 hit written by Canadian composer Hugh Harrison. It said Indian composer Joseph Mendonza, aka Joey Mendoza, has apologized and retracted statements that he wrote the tune under the name We Can Achieve three years earlier in Mumbai, admitting he has no evidence to prove it. 

“He has unconditionally and irrevocably withdrawn any claims of whatsoever nature, directly or indirectly, with regard to the lyrics and tune of ‘We Can Achieve’, which is similar to the Song,” the ministry wrote online yesterday. 

“He in fact does not have any evidence to substantiate his claim that he had written “We Can Achieve” in 1983, and he also does not lay any claim to the lyrics and tune of the Song.”

Mr Joey Mendoza had earlier claimed that he wrote “We Can Achieve”, a song that is practically identical to “Count on…

Posted by Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth – MCCY on Saturday, 20 March 2021

According to the ministry, Mendonza has accepted that the Singapore government holds the copyright to the song and has asked “associates and networks” to take down We Can Achieve from all social media platforms after pushing for him to come forward with proof since Thursday

Mendonza did not respond to messages seeking comment Monday morning, Singapore time.

The ministry also said he apologized for the “confusion caused,” asserting that he had “no intention of attacking the integrity or professionalism” of Harrison.

The ministry added that it found Mendonza’s claims “untenable” after Singaporean composer Jeremy Monteiro swore to witnessing the song being developed with Harrison in 1986.

Mendonza told Coconuts last week that he wrote the song in 1983 for 250 orphans to perform at Mumbai’s Bal Bhavan orphanage and later sold the rights to Pauline India in 1999 for only INR2,000 (S$37 or US$27). He had said recordings of the song were lost in a 2005 flood. This bizarre claim came after Singaporeans discovered renditions of the song on YouTube.

Other stories you should check out:

‘Puzzled’ Singaporean officials waiting on proof Indian composer wrote patriotic anthem

250 orphans are ‘living proof’ my song came before ‘Count On Me Singapore’: Indian composer

Indian teacher called out for copying patriotic Singapore song removes video

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