Angry TV fans are questioning some of the names on the nominee shortlist for the Star Awards' Top 10 Most Popular Artistes award category.
The shortlist of 40 names - 20 male and 20 female - is open for public voting online and via telephone, where fans can vote for the star whom they believe deserves to be among Channel 8 and Channel U's Top 10 Most Popular Male Artistes or Female Artistes.
The most surprising name on the list is arguably Justin Ang, a radio DJ with English-language station 987FM. He is one half of the radio DJ duo known as The Muttons, which also includes Vernon A.
All over Channel 8's official Facebook page, viewers have left comments with the question: "Who is Justin Ang?"
University student and TV fan Julian Low, 24, wonders: "How can Justin Ang possibly be one of the most popular artistes? He is not exactly a well-known name, at least not with Channel 8 audiences."
Ask Ang about it and the 32-year-old says that he is "just as surprised as anyone".
"The fans' reaction is my reaction. When I first heard that I got on the list, I was shocked. To just say that I am surprised would be an understatement."
In fact, when his manager first called to inform him about his nomination, he thought it was a joke. "I thought it was a prank call from the other radio DJs or something," he says with a chuckle.
Even though Ang is a radio DJ, he is eligible for the shortlist as he appeared on Channel 8 when he hosted the red carpet segment of the Celebrate TV50 countdown show last New Year's Eve. Fellow host Gurmit Singh also made the shortlist for hosting the same show.
Ang says he is not perturbed by the public backlash.
"I totally understand where they're coming from. I've said only a few lines on Channel 8, so for them not to know who I am, I'm fine with that. But now that I'm on this list, I'll just enjoy the journey and go with it, no matter what happens."
According to a statement from MediaCorp, the criterion for artistes making the list is if they have appeared in any of the following programmes: "All local dramas, sitcoms and news & current affairs programs commissioned by Channel 8 and Channel U (excluding children's programmes)."
The artistes for this year's list must also have a valid contract with MediaCorp for the period between Jan 1, 2013, and April 27, 2014, which is the day of the Star Awards ceremony.
The shortlist is derived from a list of more than 80 artiste names, which is mailed to 1,000 members of the public who are "representative of the Singaporean population", and who are "randomly selected by a market research company".
These 1,000 people are asked to vote for the artistes on the list, and their choices are collated by the market research company. The results from this sample size are then put together to form the shortlist of the Top 40 names.
Marketing executive Koh Yen Lin, 29, asks: "Why have a shortlist at all? There will always be some fans who are unhappy when their favourite stars are not on the list.
"MediaCorp should just put the names of all the artistes up for public voting. This way, you will really see which artistes are the most popular."
MediaCorp did not respond to Life!'s query about why there is a need for a shortlist in the first place. But it says that as "the sample size being issued in the survey is representative of the cross-section of Singapore population", it thus "constitutes a valid and accurate indication of the artistes' popularity".
Other than Ang's inclusion, fans are equally miffed over some notable exclusions.
On the Channel 8 Facebook page, more than 50 fans asked why big names such as Thomas Ong, Terence Cao and Dasmond Koh have failed to make the cut. Ong's latest TV drama The Caregivers, now showing on Channel 8, is enjoying high ratings, with one episode gaining over 941,000 viewers. Cao's drama Soup Of Life, which just ended its run last week, also had more than one million viewers for its finale episode.
A social media user by the name of Celine Ong commented on the Channel 8 Facebook page in Chinese: "This year's nominee list is really very strange, I don't know how many of these names came about.
"Meanwhile, Thomas Ong, Terence Cao and Dasmond Koh have all worked really hard in dramas and variety shows in the past year, and yet they were left out in the cold."
Actor Ong, 45, says that he does not really care about such popularity lists. "It's not really my priority - I just hope people enjoy my shows," he says.
Koh, 42, who hosted lifestyle programmes such as Style: Check In and Hey Gorgeous last year, says: "I might be a familiar face, and so people think that I should be on the list. But I didn't really have a big show that would put me into the 'popular' league. There is a difference between familiarity and popularity."
Though the majority of fans were unhappy with the male artistes shortlist, there were some fans who also grumbled about popular actress Ann Kok being shut out of the female artiste shortlist. As her contract with MediaCorp ended this month, however, she is not eligible for nomination.
Public voting for the Top 10 Most Popular Male Artistes and Top 10 Most Popular Female Artistes can be done at xinmsn.com/starawards20 or via telephone (go to the website for the artistes' individual numbers to call).
Voting is open until April 27.
Tell us what you think about the shortlist. Write to email@example.com
TOP 20 MALE ARTISTES
Chen Shucheng, Dai Xiangyu, Dennis Chew, Desmond Tan, Edwin Goh, Elvin Ng, Guo Liang, Gurmit Singh, Ian Fang, Justin Ang, Lee Teng, Richard Low, Romeo Tan, Pierre Png, Pornsak, Qi Yuwu, Xu Bin, Zhu Houren, Zhang Zhenhuan, Zheng Geping
TOP 20 FEMALE ARTISTES
Belinda Lee, Chris Tong, Hong Huifang, Jeanette Aw, Jin Yin Ji, Joanne Peh, Julie Tan, Kate Pang, Kym Ng, Lin Peifen, Paige Chua, Pan Lingling, Quan Yifeng, Rebecca Lim, Rui En, Tracy Lee, Vivian Lai, Ya Hui, Yvonne Lim, Zhou Ying
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