Singapore National Pledge recited #OnThisDay (24 Aug 1966)
📸:Students at a pledge-taking ceremony at Beng Wan Primary School in 1978. Source: National Archives of Singapore.
#onthisday (24 Aug 1966) some 500,000 students at 529 schools recited the national pledge for the first time. They stood with right hand raised above shoulders in front of the national flag, a practice that was changed in 1988 to the current one of reciting the pledge with the right fist clenched at the heart.
As one united people, regardless of race or religion, Singaporeans have been promising since then to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality, so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.
The concept of a pledge was mooted in October 1965, just two months after Singapore gained independence on 9 August 1965. Against the backdrop of communal tensions and race riots in the 1950s and 1960s, it was crucial for Singapore as a young nation to forge a common identity and shared values among the citizens.
Author of the pledge, then-Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr S Rajaratnam, believed that language, race and religion were potentially divisive and used the pledge to emphasise that these differences could be overcome if Singaporeans were united in our what our nation stands for.
The pledge urges us that being a Singaporean is not about forgetting our differences but rather, to accept and go beyond them to embrace our common national identity. This distinction was clear during the drafting of the pledge. While an earlier version read “forget differences of race, language and religion”, the version recited today reads “regardless of race, language or religion”.
After three drafts and multiple revisions, the pledge was finalised and translated from English into Chinese, Malay and Tamil, and recited for the first time on 24 August 1966.
Today, pledge-taking has since become an integral part of Singaporean life. The pledge is recited at school assemblies, and on important occasions such as at the National Day Parade, National Day observance ceremonies and on Singapore Armed Forces Day. May we always nurture the long-standing bonds between our people and the promises we make to our nation, as “one united people”.
#Singapore #SingaporeNationalDay #SingaporeNationalPledge