Malaysian actor-host Hero Tai sorry for saying Singapore 'man-made' and 'too boring'

The New Paper
December 26, 2023

TAIPEI – Malaysian actor-host Hero Tai Zu Xiong has apologised for comments he made about Singapore on a Taiwanese reality show.

Speaking to TNP on Dec 25, the 37-year-old explained that the theme of the controversial episode was 'Singapore versus Malaysia'.

Showrunners had wanted verbal sparring between both sides, he said.

Tai had sparked backlash for remarks he made on a recent episode of Students Coming, where guests from Singapore and Malaysia were invited to speak about their respective countries.

Tai, who has been living in Taiwan for 12 years, said: “The entire episode was about two groups of people ‘attacking’ each other purely for entertainment purposes."

However, he realised that his scenes had been ‘specially edited’ only after the show’s broadcast.

“It looked like I was very dissatisfied with Singapore, but it was really just a performance to suit the entertainment programme,” Tai added.

In the programme, he recommended that visitors spend only two to three days in Singapore “because it’s too boring”.

He was then seen going on to mock iconic attractions like Jewel’s Rain Vortex, Siloso Beach and Gardens by the Bay, describing all of them as “man-made”.

The bombshell, however, came when Tai said: “It’s really too much. All of Singapore’s delicacies are all stolen from Malaysia.”

According to him, most dishes associated with Singapore such as chicken rice, char kway teow, bak kut teh, nyonya kueh, barley drink and crab already existed in his country long before Singapore gained independence.

Tai’s comments led to a heated debate among netizens, many of whom criticised him. Several said he was desperate for a few minutes of fame and one even called him a “typical sour grape”.

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However, some also pointed out the whole hoo-ha was all part of entertainment and said there was no need to be so worked up.

One user commented: “I pity him if he was instructed to make this controversial point, just to improve audience ratings and attract attention.”

Another added: “On seeing the headlines, it did spark some anger. But one got to watch the video to determine. It was only some light bickers for the sake of viewership.”

Tai, who is expecting a baby girl with his 25-year-old Ukrainian wife in January, also revealed that he received many messages from Singaporean netizens after the show was broadcast.

He said: “Some just expressed their unhappiness, but there were also many malicious insults and attacks. There were even those who cursed my whole family to die.

“I feel that even if someone has a different position from yours or you feel that what they say is wrong, they don’t deserve to go and die."

He added: “I hope that both the Internet and the real world can be filled with more love and peace. I sincerely apologise to any Singaporeans whom I’ve upset.”

Tai and his wife, a YouTube content creator, also appeared on Singapore livestreaming platform Star Live to discuss the issue.

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Tai and Star Live's co-founder, local actor Terence Cao, discussed how netizens tend to read only headlines without understanding the full picture or in this case, watching the programme.

Tai joked: "You have about 20 minutes (today) to scold me."

To this, Cao responded: "Feel free to scold him if you want. But listen to the whole thing before you scold. Don't anyhow scold." 

Asked about his plans moving forward, Tai told TNP: “I will pay more attention to future performances, but remain true to myself. I will still work hard to do my part as an artiste and strive to pursue good work.”

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