Lone Singaporean wins regional getai competition: Kelong or crowd support?

Lone Singaporean wins regional getai competition: Kelong or crowd support?

He beat nine other regional finalists to win the inaugural Getai New Star 2014 competition at Hong Lim Park last Saturday.

But local getai rookie Mr Fei Li Yang, 30, immediately received flak for his big victory, with some criticising the results as "kelong" (foul play).

Netizens have commented that Mr Fei's vocals were "not strong" and that "he did not deserve to win".

However, Mr Fei, who has been likened to infamous Hong Kong-born American Idol reject William Hung for his nerdy demeanour, is unfazed by the backlash.

The primary school teacher, who bagged the $10,000 prize, told The New Paper: "I was shocked to hear the comments. In such a competition, everyone has his or her ideal winner. Even if someone else wins, he or she might receive criticism as well."

Mr Fei, who is married and has a four-month-old child, added: "It's just like the World Cup. If a team unexpectedly wins, people will say that the referee is 'kelong'. I'll learn and improve from the criticism."

Of the 10 finalists of Getai New Star, eight are Malaysian, while Singapore and Indonesia have one representative each.

Mr Fei sang and danced to two popular Hokkien songs on stage, in front of a full-house crowd of 1,500 people.


He said: "Maybe I won because the audience could relate to the songs. Maybe there is such a huge reaction because there is only one winner and the top prize is $10,000 - not a small amount."

The judging panel consisted of 14 professional industry insiders mostly from Singapore, including local veteran getai singer-actress Liu Ling Ling.

Their scores made up 80 per cent of the final result while the other 20 per cent came from the audience's votes on-site.

In the judges' round, Mr Fei scored 75.7 points, coming in a close second behind Indonesian finalist Lin Mei En, who received 75.8 points.

Liu, 50, said: "The rule was such that the lowest point we could give was 70 and the highest was 80. With such a small gap among the 10 finalists, the deciding factor was in the hands of the audience who voted that night."

Commenting on Mr Fei's performance, she said: "He still has room for improvement, but he was indeed very popular.

"When he came on stage, all his supporters screamed as if he was a real superstar. Instead of Getai New Star, he should have been given the Most Popular Finalist award."

Mr Dennis Ng, co-organiser of Getai New Star, added that it was not surprising for Mr Fei to win as "he had home ground advantage".

The 33-year-old said: "How can there be foul play when we had professional judges in the panel, as well as live audience voting? Perhaps Singaporeans were gunning for Mr Fei because he is local."

Local getai industry insiders that TNP spoke to felt that time will tell if Mr Fei has what it takes to be an outstanding getai performer, especially since he is considering quitting his day job to enter the industry full-time.

Getai organiser Aaron Tan, 38, who had earlier insinuated in a Facebook post that the show was "a big comedy", said: "All the negative feedback is a hit to Singapore's getai reputation.

"But since Mr Fei appears to be so popular, I guess it will show during the upcoming Lunar Seventh Month when he performs on the getai stages."

Getai veteran Wang Lei agreed.

The 52-year-old said: "Being a professional getai singer requires a lot of practice and preparation. It's nothing like being in a competition. He needs to undergo tough training to see results."


This article was first published on June 24, 2014.
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