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    Jan 03, 2014

    Countdown with a language twist

    IT WAS meant to commemorate 50 years of television, but MediaCorp's New Year Countdown show ended up turning off many viewers, who said that the hosts and artists conversed too often in Mandarin.

    Held at The Float @ Marina Bay, the five-hour televised event was attended by 18,000 people and watched by over 1.6 million viewers on channels 5 and 8, and online platforms. Taiwanese singer Wang Lee Hom sang at midnight in an all-Mandarin set.

    English is usually the main language used for the event.

    Veteran theatre practitioner Ivan Heng complained about the show's excessive use of Mandarin in a Facebook post that went viral, attracting more than 8,600 likes and 2,700 shares as of press time. Netizens left comments saying that there were no English subtitles or translations.

    Heng wrote: "We are still one month from the Year of the Horse. I kept flipping channels to double-check to see if I was watching Channel 8 or CCTV (China Central Television)."

    MediaCorp said the show was conceived as "a multilingual, multicultural show to reflect Singapore's multicultural heritage" and added that "a fair mix of English and Mandarin content was featured".

    Mr Zaqy Mohamad, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Communications and Information, said: "If it's meant for Channel 5 or a mass audience, it's always good to have something that's inclusive.

    "For multicultural flavour, you could have a sprinkling of the four official languages here and there, but the show should overall be something that all can understand."

    When contacted yesterday, Heng said: "My hope for 2014 is that we can learn from this, and truly understand and celebrate what it means to be an inclusive society."