Blind singer Alfred Ho says unfairly axed by Asia’s Got Talent

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PETALING JAYA: Local singer Alfred Ho has been given the boot from Asia’s Got Talent (AGT), despite getting three “yes-es” from the panel of celebrity judges on the show which airs on AXN.

The 68-year-old Ho, who is blind, has now been left disappointed by his shocking elimination from the talent show, where millions of viewers in Asia watched him perform “Quando, Quando, Quando”, a classic originally performed by Engelbert Humperdinck.

“All three judges, Anggun, David Foster and Jay Park approved of my talent, and picked me immediately with three ‘yes-es’, and my performance was also featured on the programme when it was shown on Astro recently.

“But on Sept 27, the producers of AGT sent an email stating I was not accepted into the next round,” Ho said, of the letter from AXN which produces the show.

FMT contacted AXN and was told that there had been a misunderstanding by the contestant over how the elimination process works.

“AGT’s procedures and rules dictate that qualification is not entirely dependent on the decision of the jury (Foster, Anggun and Park) on stage but that every participant also has to go through another filtration process before being picked up for the semi-finals,” said an AXN/AGT spokesperson, Virginia Lim, Senior Vice President and Head, Content, Production & Marketing, Sony Pictures Television Networks, Asia.

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According to Ho, in order to qualify for the second round performance in front of the three judges and the studio audience, as seen on TV, he had to undergo an earlier first round audition.

FMT caught up with Ho recently as he was preparing himself for a two-hour performance at Busker’s corner provided by the Avenue K shopping mall near the KLCC LRT station.

Alfred sings classic “oldies but goldies” from the 1960s and 1970s, while playing his guitar to entertain commuters as well as others passing through on their way to KLCC.

“This is one of my routine gigs every Thursday, from 5pm to 7pm. Some kind passersby drop some money as a token of their appreciation,” he said, adding that his wife is by his side all the time to assist him.

Ho added he also takes on some freelance gigs, performing at corporate events, weddings and so on.

Looking back, he recounted how a few decades ago, he worked as a radio jockey but was asked to quit because the radio station did not have enough equipment to support his mobility.

Back to the AGT, Alfred is demanding a more clear response from the management about his dismissal from the show despite having gotten the thumbs up from all three judges immediately after his second round performance.

“Everyone, my friends, acquaintances and fans are asking me about my status in AGT. I had to tell them that I was not selected. But I don’t know the reason why,” he said.

However, AGT has their own explanation.

According to Virginia, AGT were not being unfair in the case of Ho, adding that the whole process was done according to procedure.

“We have our own format. Participants who receive two or three ‘yes-es’ do not automatically get through to the semi-finals.

“We have another shortlist process called ‘Judge’s Cull’, where only the best 20 performances will be re-elected for the next round,” she said, adding that it’s the same rules as applied by the franchise talent contest in the United States and the United Kingdom as well.

Virginia dismissed Ho’s criticism as nothing more than just a case of misunderstanding, saying that all contestants are made aware of the format and rules beforehand.

Hundreds of people participated in the qualifying round and 99 were chosen by the stage judges, of whom only 20 are re-elected to the semi-finals.

“All the participants had been informed earlier that three ‘yes-es’ do not necessarily take them to the next round.

“The exception are those who had received the ‘Golden Buzzer’. They will automatically go to the next round,” add Virginia to FMT.

According to AGT, all the contestants had been notified about their elimination or selection to the semi-final round by email by the end of September.