Entertainment Democracy and Asian Idol

As a proud Singaporean, I am very delighted our very own Hady Mirza won the Asian Idol title last night. The five other contestants were from Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and India, countries which paid for the rights to host the Simon Fuller talent quest in their respective countries. However, I want to be objective and say that if judging is strictly done on singing alone, and singly is the only criterion the audience should vote on, dear Hady might not have made it. Philippines’ Mau, Indonesia’s Mike or Vietnam’s Phuong would have been a better Asian Idol. Sorry Hady, voters probably voted based on who looked great – between a fat person and a good-looking one, old prejudices die hard and you were obviously one of the top contenders as a result.

Entertainment democracy like the American Idol franchised copycats globally is when the voters are sometimes swayed to vote on how entertained they are, rather than how informed their decision should be. In American Idol 2006, Taylor Hicks won despite Chris Daughtry being more talented supposedly. So the audience cannot be totally relied on to make an informed decision all the time in a democracy. Candidates who are better in what they do are left behind because they don’t look good, while others who are good at showmanship will take the title, even if they can’t sing that well compared to the rest of the contestants.

Are Singaporeans matured enough to vote on an informed decision? The PAP did well in the past but the public should not think the current image of the PAP is the same as that when it led Singapore to independence and prosperity. Parties like the SDP are all entertaining showmanship but can they actually deliver? The WP is slowly sucking us into this trap that they are the middle path but is that also part of the show and can they really guide Singapore into the next lap?

Singapore’s Hady Mirza wins first Asian Idol contest
Posted: 17 December 2007 0107 hrs

JAKARTA, Indonesia : Singapore’s Hady Mirza has been crowned the region’s first singing champion at the inaugural Asian Idol competition in Jakarta on Sunday.

Hady defeated five other Idol winners from India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The show was hosted by RCTI – Indonesia’s largest TV network.

Voting via text messaging began when it was televised simultaneously to all six participating countries, with an unprecedented millions of viewers.

Hady Mirza, Singapore Idol Season 2 winner, earlier said: “The pressure I think is that it’s going to be shown across six countries. I started off being quite nervous. But then, as we went along, it was fine and I did pretty well. I think I did pretty well and I’m happy with my performance.”

To ensure fairness, judges were drawn from the six countries taking part in the competition.

Even a voting system to neutralise the numerical supremacy of big countries such as Indonesia and India was instituted.

Votes were not considered valid unless the sender picks two singers.

But above all, organisers said Asian Idol was more than just a competition.

Indriena Basarah, General Manager of Fremantle Asia, said: “What we would like to do is actually to showcase that Asia has incredible talent.”

For the contestants, the Asian Idol competition gave them the exposure beyond their own national boundaries.

This may lead to better prospects to develop and promote their musical talents across the region

Human Rights Day Approaches

Dec 10, Monday

And Singapore still does not have a national human rights body. What are human rights? There are various levels of human rights and some levels of rights should be respected first before the others. The right to life is the most basic. The right to livelihood. And then comes the right to lifestyle. Without a shadow of doubt the issue of human rights is never that compartmentalised but this framework is one that is easier to understand – the right to life, livelihood and lifestyle in that order.

Where is Singapore on that scale now? We have developed country status with economic and political stability, the PAP says it has a first world government, and so most issues related to life and livelihood are looked after. There is no extrajudiciary killing, there is almost no arbitrary imprisonment, everyone has the right to work and education. The most contentious collection of rights that is not respected enough is that related to lifestyle. I use “lifestyle” generally here and it covers gay rights, the right to not to have a nation building press, the right to have the executive, judiciary and legislative separate and so on.

What can a Singapore human rights body do? Will it be as toothless as Case or the Public Transport Council in protecting our interests? A Singapore human rights watch body is symbolic that Singapore does respect human rights enough so that there is an avenue for complaints to be heard, and is committed to meeting the expectations of the people and the international stage.