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The National Pledge embodies the ideals for building a united Singapore. Written in August 1966 by S. Rajaratnam, who was then Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Pledge underwent several rounds of revisions before becoming the version that exists today.
The idea for a National Pledge was first proposed in October 1965 by William Cheng, Principal Assistant Secretary of Administration in the Ministry of Education (MOE), to the education minister Ong Pang Boon, as a loyalty oath that could be recited in schools in place of the flag-raising ceremony. Accepting the suggestion, Ong tasked two of his deputies to produce drafts of the Pledge, which were then forwarded to Rajaratnam for comments. Influenced by his experience of the 1964 racial riots, Rajaratnam rewrote the Pledge with a new emphasis on overcoming the divisive barriers of race, language and religion. His version called for a sense of nationhood to be fostered despite these differences, and encouraged all Singaporeans to realise the dream of building a nation that they would be proud of. Following further revisions by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew as well as other MOE officials, the final version of the Pledge as we know it today was created.
On 25 August 1966, about 500,000 students from 529 government and aided schools recited the National Pledge, the first time the Pledge was recited in schools. Led by teachers, the recital was done at the instruction of MOE, which said that pupils were to observe this ceremony with solemnity and respect and to face the National Flag with their right hands raised. From 27 June 1988, however, students have been reciting the Pledge with their right fists clenched to their chests. According to MOE, this change was to better reflect the emotional aspect of saying the Pledge. The Pledge has since been recited on occasions of national importance such as the National Day Parade.
The Pledge is available in the four official languages of Singapore.
We, the citizens of Singapore,
pledge ourselves as one united people,
regardless of race, language or religion,
to build a democratic society
based on justice and equality
so as to achieve happiness, prosperity
and progress for our nation.
Kami, warganegara Singapura,
sebagai rakyat yang bersatu padu,
tidak kira apa bangsa, bahasa, atau ugama,
berikrar untok membina suatu masyarakat yang demokratik,
berdasarkan kepada keadilan dan persamaan untok mencapai kebahagian,
kemakmuran dan kemajuan bagi negara Kami.
சிங்கப்பூர் குடிமக்களாகிய நாம், இனம், மொழி, மதம்
ஆகிய வேற்றுமைகளை மறந்து, ஒன்றுபட்டு, நம் நாடு
மகிழ்ச்சி, வளம், முன்னேற்றம் ஆகியவற்றை அடையும்
வண்ணம் சமத்துவத்தையும், நீதியையும்
அடிப்படையாகக் கொண்ட ஜனநாயக
According to official guidelines on the use of the Pledge:
1. The National Pledge is recited during school assemblies, SAF Day, the National Day Parade, and at National Day Observance Ceremonies;
2. Individuals reciting the Pledge shall clench their right fists to the left side of their chests as a gesture symbolising loyalty to the nation; and
3. The Pledge shall not be used for commercial purposes. Organisations that want to use the Pledge in print or in any other medium should obtain prior approval from the Prime Minister's Office.
Air of determination when Pledge was recited in '60s. (1996, June 12). The Straits Times, Life!, p. 2. Retrieved December 31, 2012, from NewspaperSG.
Koh, B. P. (1996, June 12). The dream was about building 'a Singapore we are proud of'. The Straits Times, Life!, p. 2. Retrieved December 31, 2012, from NewspaperSG.
Kwa, C. G., Heng, D., & Tan, T. Y. (2009). Singapore: A 700-year history (pp. 194-195). Singapore: National Archives of Singapore.
(Call no.: RSING 959.5703 KWA)
Ministry of Education. (1966). Annual report [Microfilm: NL9335]. Singapore: Printed at the Govt. Print. Off.
(Call no.: RCLOS 370.95951 SIN)
Ministry of Information and the Arts. (1999). The national symbols kit. Singapore: Author.
(Call no.: RSING 320.54095957027 NAT)
National Heritage Board. (2012, October 24). National Pledge. Retrieved December 31, 2012, from National Heritage Board website: http://www.nhb.gov.sg
Singapore: The first ten years of independence. (2007). Singapore: National Library Board; National Archives of Singapore.
(Call no.: RSING 959.5705 SIN)
SM thinks of Raja and chokes with emotion. (1996, June 9). The Sunday Times, p.1. Retrieved December 31, 2012, from NewspaperSG.
10 years that shaped a nation (pp. 138-139). (2008). Singapore: National Archives of Singapore.
(Call no.: RSING 959.5705 TEN)
Singapore. Legislative Assembly. (1959). State arms and flag and national anthem of Singapore. Singapore: Printed at the Govt. Print. Off.
(Call no.: RCLOS 929.8 SIN-[RFL])
The information in this article is valid as at 31 December 2012 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
Politics and Government>>National Symbols
Law and government>>National development
Law and government>>Political ideologies>>Nationalism