“The Voice” is finally in our region.
The popular reality singing competition, which first originated in Holland, will finally have a local version catered to all Malaysians and Singaporean. For the first time ever, a reality show will be produced and broadcasted for 2 territories in one version.
While many aspiring singers are excited over the chance to showcase their talent, there’s a catch. Everyone is invited to audition – regardless of race, citizenship, or age (as long as you’re above 16). But if you are not a Chinese speaker, that’s the end of your dream.
Participants are not only encouraged to be fluent in Mandarin and to be able to sing Mandarin songs, but it is actually a requirement.
This has drew flak from netizens, with Singaporean Twitter user @thelocalrebel spearheading the objection. The show has been called out for “linguistic discrimination” and giving off a subtle “racist effect”. Other users are also up in arms as the issue, as a user puts it, “Isn’t Singapore’s main language, English? I shouldn’t feel this way, but, is it now MY fault not knowing Mandarin?????? Since it’s a big deal???”
The Voice for Singapore and Malaysia is open to all races BUT only allows singing in Mandarin. They should just call it The 声音。
— mrbrown (@mrbrown) May 8, 2017
why call it “The Voice” and only cater to chinese speakers when you are looking for talents from Singapore & our first language is English?
— sha! ? (@softdoyoungs) May 7, 2017
@_hnnhs so techniCALLY itshouldn’t be called “The Voice Singapore” bcos it doesn’t represent the whole of Spore.so much for “regardless of language”
— liyano bama (@kukuliy) May 7, 2017
The Voice Singapore is a joke, systemic racism at its best :’)
— nur azlifah ازليفه (@CheesecakeIfa) May 7, 2017
However, not everyone is angry over the issue. User @bartcheeks has defended the show in a long message, which can be read here:
— Christopher Li (@bartcheeks) May 7, 2017
Due to the massive outrage, co-producer mm2 Entertainment explained that they only acquired the license to produce the show in Mandarin, thus the requirement.
Although judges haven’t been decided, a spokesperson added that they will be predominantly Mandarin-speaking. To ease communication between the judges and contestants, especially during the coaching sessions, it would be ideal if both parties could speak in the same language.
They also explained that participants would be allowed to sing songs in other languages, although dialects such as Cantonese and Hokkien are not allowed.
Online auditions are open from now until 31st May, with those interested invited to send in a 90-second clip to the show. There are currently no plans for an open audition, but an announcement will be made on their official sites if there are any changes.
Malaysians can catch the show on Astro AEC channel while Singaporeans will be able to watch via Starhub’s Hub E City channel. “The Voice” will tentatively begin in the 3rd quarter of 2017.