One-second kiss at Star Awards sparks outcry

MediaCorp will be censoring the “kiss” for the repeat telecast of the Star Awards this Sunday afternoon. (YouTube screengrab)
MediaCorp will be censoring the “kiss” for the repeat telecast of the Star Awards this Sunday afternoon. (YouTube screengrab)

"I kissed a girl and I liked it," sang pop songstress Katy Perry.

So why didn't others?

A kiss between Singapore actresses Vivian Lai and Kate Pang at the Star Awards Show 2 on Sunday left a bad taste and got some TV viewers all worked up.

The kiss, if you can even call it that, lasted for all of one second, after actress-host Lai, 36, was announced as one of the Top 10 Most Popular Female Artistes at the awards ceremony held at Marina Bay Sands.

Amid the applause, Lai stood up and turned to hug an emotional Pang (winner of Best Newcomer Award), who was seated beside her, before giving the young actress a quick peck on the lips.

The girl-on-girl kiss, which was shown live on MediaCorp's Channel 8, made headlines soon after.

Irked viewers took to Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao and The New Paper (TNP) to voice their disapproval, with many calling the stars' behaviour "inappropriate" on live TV and especially so in a "conservative society" like Singapore.

The "kiss" will be censored for the repeat telecast this Sunday afternoon as a result, "as some viewers may not be comfortable with such etiquette," explained Paul Chan, MediaCorp vice-president for branding and promotion for Channel 8.

Chan, however, was quick to clarify that the kiss was only a "peck and a spontaneous reaction of joy by the winner's colleague on the spur of the moment".

"There was no intention and it should not be construed to promote, justify or glamourise an alternative lifestyle as we are mindful of such issues," he said.

The Media Development Authority also told Yahoo! Singapore that they are "currently looking into this to see if there is any breach of our content guidelines".

Do the stars think they've done anything wrong then?

Not apparently, according to TNP.

Lai and Pang, both Taiwanese, told the paper that they regard each other as sisters and do not regret kissing.

"I think the matter was blown out of proportion… we kissed for just one second," said Lai, who also won the Best Supporting Actress award for her role as a loud-mouthed China national in "Love Thy Neighbour".

Likening it to the Oscars where "a lot of Caucasians kiss each other because they are happy", the mother of two questioned why it would be "okay for Hong Kong and Taiwan (female celebrities) to do the same, but not for Singapore artistes".

"Everyone has her own way of expressing her joy at that happy moment, but if the repercussions of my kiss are so serious, I will be more careful next time," she was quoted as saying.

While Lai had never kissed Pang before Sunday, she did kiss local actress-host Michelle Chong two years ago at the Star Awards.

Most users Yahoo! Singapore spoke to too found the "kiss" no big deal.

"It's only for a for a split second, nothing too inappropriate even on national TV," said 26-year-old university undergraduate Maverick Ang. "But of course it's a different story if it was more than a peck, say a French kiss or something."

Sales manager Claudia Tan, 30, agreed.

"So many of them kissed each other that night," she said, referring to actress Yvonne Lim, who kissed actor Cavin Soh, and actor-DJ Dennis Chew, who kissed both Lai and Lim, when they won popularity awards.

"I don't think it's anything obscene at all… or maybe they did it for publicity," she added.

"The stars were obviously overjoyed and couldn't contain their emotions at that moment… I think Singaporeans could loosen up instead of making a big fuss out of almost nothing at all," added housewife Eve Goh, 49.

But Goh said that she understood why the more conservative could have been offended.

"The show was watched by both the young and old, it's natural that some will worry about wrong messages being sent across."

Tell us what you think -- are viewers over-reacting, or not?