Marching song gets a tweak, sparking debate

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) issued a clarification on Saturday night that only a modified verse from the army marching song Purple Light was banned, and not the song itself.

This came amid heated discussion among netizens who thought the entire song had been banned.

In a posting on its Cyberpioneer magazine Facebook page, Mindef said: "We would like to clarify that Purple Light has not been banned.

"However, steps have been taken to stop the offensive verse from being sung in the Singapore Armed Forces, as it runs contrary to the values of our organisation and should not be condoned."

Mindef added that the offensive verse had resulted from modifications made to the original which were "done independently by some groups during their march, and not authorised".

The original verse, posted by the ministry, has the following lyrics: "Booking out, saw my girlfriend/Saw her with another man/Broken heart, back to Army/With my rifle and my buddy and me."

In the modified version, the third line is sung as: "Kill the man, rape my girlfriend."

Mindef's unprecedented move to ban the offensive verse in the song was made after it received a complaint from the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware).

News of the ban triggered much debate online over the weekend, with netizens flooding Aware and Cyberpioneer's Facebook pages with comments.

Some objected to the ban as they felt singing the verse was not the same as condoning rape and violence.

"We don't mean it when we sing that line. Many national servicemen going through basic military training get dumped by their girlfriends, so singing this song helps them to release their frustration... We don't take the lyrics seriously," said Facebook user Joel Yap.

But others pointed out that using sexism as a means of bonding among soldiers was not right.

"Our soldiers shouldn't be proud about singing of killing and raping girlfriends," said another user, David Lim.

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