HONG KONG - Hong Kong singer G.E.M was given a hero's welcome despite coming in second in the finale of singing contest I Am A Singer, a result that upset fans.
After losing to mainland balladeer Han Lei, 46, during Friday's Season 2 finale held at Changsha, Hunan, in China, the 22-year-old was on Saturday mobbed by about 300 fans at the Shenzhen airport while enroute home, Apple Daily reported.
In the melee, some shouted their support for the star, who was a relative unknown outside Hong Kong till her participation in the contest, which started in January.
"I had expected this," she told reporters about the result, based on audience votes.
"Nobody knew me and they took a risk on me, so I'm already thankful. The finalists' performances are evident. There's no need to speculate," she said, about being invited to join the Hunan TV show and dismissing talk that the result was rigged.
In third and fourth places on Saturday were Malaysians Shila Amzah, 23, and Gary Chaw, 34. They were followed by mainland singers Jason Zhang Jie, 31, and Zhou Bichang, 28, and Taiwan's Phil Chang, 46.
G.E.M lost by 3.36 per cent of votes. She had been a favourite to win with her powerhouse vocals, having come in first in four previous rounds of the contest, which pits professional singers against one another.
But Inner Mongolian singer Han was a heavyweight contestant, remembered for his thrilling vocals in theme songs of popular TV dramas such as 2001's The Kangxi Dynasty.
Still, the media last Saturday were questioning why mainland champions tended to win such shows. Examples: Chinese duo Yu Quan won last year's I Am A Singer contest, beating Taiwanese favourites Terry Lin and Aska Yang; and Chinese singer-actor Fu Xinbo won Jiangsu TV's celebrity diving show Stars In Danger last year, trouncing hot Taiwanese star Van Ness Wu.
But Saturday was a day to celebrate for the hijab-clad Shila, who had been wowing audiences with songs delivered in Mandarin.
Chinese netizens had taunted her and Chaw for staying on the show after the disappearance of Malaysian flight MH370, Malaysian newspaper The Star had reported. The country's handling of the crisis had drawn criticism from the Chinese following the disappearance.
This article was published on April 7 in The Straits Times.
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