The Voice Comes To Singapore

Singing competition The Voice has been making waves across the globe, with increasingly large viewership rates in South-east Asian countries like Indonesia and Thailand.

Due to the huge success of such shows, more and more variations of the well-known competition are being made. For instance, The Voice Kids and The Voice Teens were hosted alongside the Voice of the Philippines and soon became one of the highest-ranked television shows in the country.

But what about Singapore? With shows in the past like Asia’s Got Talent and Singapore Idol searching for talent directly from our shores, it’s inevitable that The Voice would find its way to us, too.

However, aspiring entrants shouldn’t rejoice so soon — A quick look at the eligibility criteria gives some explanation why.


Mandarin Speakers Only

Though the competition says it’s open to all races, contestants are required to be fluent in Mandarin — thereby eliminating the majority of Malays, Indians, Eurasians and probably a lot of students  and alumni from Anglo-Chinese School.

Thus, unlike Singapore Idol and Asia’s Got Talent, we don’t think it can be said that The Voice is a Singaporean version of the original show. Instead, it’s evidently a Chinese one.

Chinese privilege, much?

Similar to the show that brought Nathan Hartono to greater fame, aka Sing!China, the show caters to Mandarin-speaking audiences who’d like more Mandarin-spouting singers to swoon over.

After all, the show is co-distributed by Astro AEC, a Mandarin-generic television channel from Malaysia, alongside Singapore telco Starhub.

Chinese Everywhere

Just look at The Voice’s Facebook page.


Then look at the completely unsubtitled advertisement for the show, which shows different races listening (and understanding) the host speaking about the show in Mandarin.

Then look at The Voice’s website, which has Chinese words first, before the English translation comes below:

Joint Broadcast

While Singaporeans who don’t speak Chinese may be mad at this multiracial competition that’s not multiracial at all but claims to be multiracial, we ought to remain calm like the Singaporeans we’re not and remember that this show wasn’t meant to represent Singapore at all.

After all, the show is open to individuals in both Singapore and Malaysia, so it’s definitely is a more regionalised than localised show, and isn’t a complete representation of our nation’s talent.

There’s one problem with that — isn’t Malaysia a country that is made up of majority Malay people? How does The Voice represent Malaysia either?

So we have a joint Malaysia-Singapore singing competition that doesn’t represent either of the countries it’s being broadcasted in.

Did the producers of this show think the show was taking place in a mini-China?


There’s still some hope. The eligibility requirements “may be changed at any time by [the] Producer in its sole discretion”, according to the website.

So perhaps it’s possible that a version of The Voice that is more representative of our nation will emerge to please all the understandably frustrated, true-red Singaporeans who just aren’t fluent in Mandarin, as they shouldn’t need to be.

For now, though, the only Singaporean thing about the show seems to be the fact that Starhub’s involved.


We think they shouldn’t have said it’s open to all races but require contestants to speak Mandarin. That’s like job ads that say they’re open to hiring all races but require candidates to speak Mandarin.

For the job ads, the authorities will have something to say. How about The Voice? Will the authorities voice any concerns?

It remains to be seen.

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