English a uniting language

SINGAPORE- We received 25 letters in response to the article on MediaCorp's New Year's Eve countdown show (Countdown Party Not Multilingual Enough, Life!, Jan 3), and 22 said the use of Mandarin and the presence of Channel 8 stars overshadowed the programme. We publish a selection here.

MediaCorp wrote on its Facebook page that it "conceived the show as a multilingual, multicultural show" to reflect our heritage and that the show was "a fair mix of English and Mandarin content".

How was it multilingual, multicultural or a fair mix when the Malays and Indians were not shown in the same proportion as the Chinese? There were no Malay or Indian hosts. And after the countdown, the show was entirely in Mandarin, helmed by Chinese-American pop star Wang Leehom.

I also do not agree with Vasantham artist Ebi Shankara, who said that he found the programming balanced as he and Shabir sang a song each. How can two songs in Tamil be balanced against more than a dozen songs in Mandarin?

Shankara went on to say that most Singaporeans speak Mandarin and Channel 8 has a greater reach. Yes, this is true. However, the countdown was not on Channel 8 but Channel 5, which is supposed to be in English - the common language that binds all races together.

I suggest MediaCorp learn from the National Day Parade, a racially balanced show. Most of the items are in English and when one item is in Mandarin, you can bet that the next item will be in Malay or Tamil.

Fair and balanced - across all races - is that too much for Singaporeans to ask as we approach our nation's 50th birthday?

Mahirl Malar

Such brazen bias on MediaCorp's part is not and should no longer be shocking to Singaporeans. The same approach has dominated television programming for the English-language Channel 5.

An instance would be the sitcoms produced throughout the years. Few had non-Chinese characters as the main protagonists. Even in dramas, non-Chinese characters continue to play supporting roles.

It is time Channel 5's content be made more diverse, as Singaporeans are more than ready to have non-Chinese characters featured as stars instead of playing peripheral roles.

Helmy Sa'at

The New Year countdown show is a great disappointment. Viewers who come from diverse cultures and backgrounds cannot make sense of the jokes and banter of the comperes. A countdown variety programme should be inclusive.

Joanne Chua

I cannot comprehend what the producers were thinking, having so much Mandarin dialogue. The only bright spark was the introduction of the red carpet segment.

I was very upset by the whole event, so much so that I switched the television off and went to sleep.

Abdul Lathiff

I think MediaCorp was not fair and was inconsiderate towards non-Mandarin- speaking viewers tuning in to Channel 5. We expected to follow the programme in English, but were disappointed by the overwhelming use of Mandarin.

Singapore is not China. Is MediaCorp broadcasting the programme live to China or Taiwan?

Abdul Aziz Ahmad

I cannot understand why the show could not have been done in English and still reflected a multiracial and multilingual Singapore. Why were Malay, which is our national language, Tamil and Hindi not included? This is Singapore and English is the only language that is inclusive and unites.

Martin Roland

I think Ivan Heng and others have over-reacted and are being irrational.

I would like to remind them that Chinese is an official language of Singapore.

If Singapore is regarded as a true multiracial society, does it not make sense to hear this language in a "national" programme?

Mandarin speakers were over- represented because there are far more celebrities from Channel 8.

Furthermore, these Channel 8 celebrities may be more comfortable with Mandarin. Forcing them to speak English would mean rejecting Mandarin as an official language.

In a truly developed multiracial society, people from different ethnic groups should respect and feel comfortable with one another's language. To think that only English should be used in a national programme is indeed a misrepresentation of a multiracial society.

Linus Lee

This was a New Year countdown and 50th anniversary show, not an English- language channel show. So what is wrong with using Mandarin? Even Chinese actors and actresses spoke English too. Most of the time, host Joanne Peh was speaking English with a mixture of Mandarin.

The fact is there are more Channel 8 Chinese artists than artists from any other channel in Singapore, so it is not surprising that there are more Chinese performances, compared to those from other races or in other languages.

The show already reflected the fact that we are multiracial and multilingual because all the other channels' artists performed too. It is not easy to please everyone. Good show, MediaCorp.

Peggy Earthstone

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