The highly anticipated Singapore/Malaysia edition of The Voice has finally arrived on our shores. Online auditions for the international singing competition launched on Friday (May 6) and will run until the end of the month.
The catch? While they can be of any race or nationality, aspiring contestants must be "fluent in Mandarin, and are able to perform Mandarin songs", according to the contest's website.
The condition has drawn outrage from netizens, who questioned the language criteria, as songs chosen for the audition are permitted to be "of any language (except for Dialects such as Cantonese or Hokkien)".
Twitter user @thelocalrebel posted screenshots of TODAY's article about the auditions on Friday. The tweet has since been shared 430 times.
The tweet sparked heated debate, with some users saying that the language restrictions were a manifestation of racial discrimination. While some non-Chinese Singaporeans might be able to speak Mandarin, it is only a small minority with "privilege" who are able to do so, pointed out Twitter user @wtfisnsx.
Singapore Idol Top 5 finalist Joakim Gomez wrote in a Facebook post: "Singapore and Malaysia are both a melting pot of backgrounds, cultures, and languages. This show has almost alienated the few things our respective countries boast."
Singaporeans echoed his sentiments, saying that the rule would only serve to further perpetuate the common misconception that Singapore is part of China.
The Voice first aired in the Netherlands in 2010, and is now produced in 65 countries worldwide. The Singapore/Malaysia edition is being co-produced by Singapore entertainment company mm2, which is behind the Ah Boys To Men franchise, and Malaysia's Astro.