Is her win TAINTED?
Earlier linked to judge Irene Ang, OMG winner is also related to another judge, Tay Ping Hui
By Charlene Chua
November 20, 2010
THE NEW PAPER, OCT 15
JUST last month, ousted One Moment Of Glory (OMG) contestants had complained about the ‘unfair advantage’ that may have been accorded to fellow contestant Jill-Marie Thomas.
All because she was allegedly good friends with Irene Ang, resident judge of the local Channel 5 reality talent show.
But Thomas survived the talk and has even emerged winner.
The 28-year-old guitar-strumming songbird beat four other OMG finalists – dance acts Luminiq Crew and CJ Crew, singer Sean Harrison and acrobats IFly Prodigy – at the finale on Wednesday night.
Thomas won the grand prize of $50,000 cash after performing her rendition of Alanis Morissette’s You Learn and Cyndi Lauper’s True Colours.
But even as she is trying to savour her win, she has been linked to yet another OMG judge.
This time, it’s the finale’s celebrity guest judge, local actor Tay Ping Hui.
Thomas is Tay’s brother-in-law’s niece.
Tay had mentioned their relationship on his blog entry a year ago when he had posted a video of Thomas performing Wonder Girls’ Nobody and praised her performance.
He told The New Paper: ‘The blog entry is still there. I didn’t delete it as I have nothing to hide.’
The latest revelation threatens to further taint Thomas’ win.
It also raises the question of why the show producers didn’t simply find another guest judge for the finale.
Ms Jennifer Gwee, MediaCorp TV’s managing executive producer of the Content Creation Division, told The New Paper that Tay was invited back to the finale as guest judge because of his knowledge and ability to comment on the performers’ technical skills.
She said: ‘Jill-Marie Thomas being a distant relative to Tay Ping Hui was not seen as an issue as the judges have always been objective and professional in discharging their roles and responsibilities in the show.
‘Throughout the series, we have not had any reason to doubt the credibility of any of our judges – all of whom are well-known and much respected in our entertainment industry.’
Other contestants: She deserved to win
She added: ‘As the judging format of the show is based 50 per cent on judges’ votes and 50 per cent viewers’ votes, ultimately, it is the quality of the contestants’ on-stage performance and the ability to garner strong public votes that eventually determined the overall winner.’
However, some viewers we spoke to felt that it was ‘unlucky’ that Thomas had both a ‘friend’ and a relative on the judging panel.
Said 52-year-old housewife Stacy Khoo: ‘I think that anyone who has been following the show will agree that Jill is an excellent singer and would have won no matter who the judge was.
‘It’s really an unlucky coincidence that she happens to know Irene Ang and is related by marriage to Tay Ping Hui.
‘For people who don’t watch the show, they will definitely think that there may have been bias in thejudging.’
Tay himself said that he was shocked when he first found out that Thomas was on the show, after he had agreed to be a guest judge on the fourth, fifth and sixth episodes of OMG.
The other guest judges included local artistes Jeanette Aw, Hossan Leong and US singer Debbie Gibson.
Said Tay, 41: ‘When I first saw Jill backstage at the recording of episode 4, I was taken aback. I immediately went to the producers and declared that I was related to her.
‘They asked me if I could be an objective judge and I said I am one. So they said they were fine with it.
‘I’m the sort of person to say it like it is, so for anyone to suggest that I was anything but objective in my judging on OMG, I find that very offensive.’
Tay added that he and Thomas aren’t close and he doesn’t meet her at family gatherings, not even during Chinese New Year.
Tay, who said that he was called back by the OMG producers to reprise his role in the finale, commented during the show that she should write and perform the National Day Parade song next year.
He judged the competition alongside resident judges Ang, Beatrice Chia-Richmond and The Flying Dutchman (Mark van Cuylenburg).
Said Tay: ‘Jill’s the undisputed winner. I would never give her low points when she’s put in a fantastic performance just to prove that I’m not biased.’
Judges’ ranking makes up half of the contestants’ results; public votes make up the other half.
Chia-Richmond and The Flying Dutchman (FD) both said that they did not see any reason that Tay should not have been a guest judge in the finale even though he was related to Thomas.
Said FD, 54: ‘Just because he’s a relative doesn’t mean he can’t be an objective judge. People have got to give us credit for being a panel of adults.
‘Integrity. We all understand what it means.’
Added Chia-Richmond, 35: ‘Ping Hui is not afraid to ruffle feathers and he’s not going to give an opinion that he doesn’t mean. All I can say is lucky him, he has a talented relative.’
The judges’ other favourite to win was Luminiq Crew. The group had wowed them with its stylish dance routine that included breakdancing and beat-boxing.
Actress-comedienne Ang, 41, had said during the finale when asked to predict the winner that she would spilt the prize money and award it to both Thomas and Luminiq Crew.
The New Paper was unable to contact her as she left immediately after the finale and did not answer her mobile phone.
In our previous report, Ang, who owns Fly Entertainment, said that given the small entertainment industry in Singapore and her many years of experience in the business, she has met many local entertainers.
She added: ‘My events arm has engaged many entertainers (including Thomas) throughout the 10 years … As judge of OMG, I maintain my integrity by being fair and just to the best of my ability.’
Fly’s subsidiary event company, Running Into The Sun, is run by Chia-Richmond.
Thomas herself told The New Paper that she and Tay are ‘distantly related’ and she rarely sees him.
‘It’s a novelty when I do because he’s Tay Ping Hui, Channel 8 star, to me. I’m not close to him at all.
‘My performances in every episode are enough to show everyone what I can do. I deserve towin.’
Thomas said that Ang and Tay are professionals and ‘would never risk their reputations’ for her.
She clarified that she and Ang are friends on a ‘professional level’ in that she has been hired by Ang’s entertainment company to perform at events.
Thomas plans to give half of her prize money to her mother and use the rest to record an album, something she had wanted to do for a long time but didn’t have the finances for.
When told that Tay was related to Thomas, Luminiq Crew member Daniel Hakim Supani, 23, said on behalf of his group that Thomas won fair and square.
He said: ‘We’ve been through this journey with Jill from the start and we have seen the hard work she has put in so, no, there wasn’t bias in the judges’ decision.
‘She’s excellent at doing song mash-ups. That’s her special talent. We’re not disappointed that we didn’t win, just relieved that we can now spend some time with our girlfriends and friends.’
Samantha Mun, a 22-year-old member of CJ Crew, which the judges had ranked third after Thomas and Luminiq Crew, also agreed that the judging had beenfair.
She said: ‘Besides, 50 per cent of the votes are from the public. Jill wouldn’t have won if the public didn’t want her to win.’