The elimination of two non-Maltese X Factor participants during the semi-final night has shocked and caused outrage among online commentators, with judge and mentor Howard Keith Debono also addressing the issue online.
For the past weeks, many have taken to social media and posted comments urging people not to vote for Filipino singer Rose Marielle Mamaclay and Namibian national Sean Kamati, so that a Maltese national wins the competition.
Commenting after Sunday’s show, manager and music producer Debono, who arrived at the semi-final with three participants, underlined that while he did not want to take away from Richard Aquilina making it to the finals, he had to address the elephant in the room.
Addressing the non-Maltese issue, Debono said: “unfortunately there’s an alarming number of people who equally complain that foreigners living and working in Malta are threatening our jobs and yet equally complain that Maltese do not want to do certain jobs.”
Such jobs range from health carers in elderly care homes, housekeeping, cab drivers, manual workers, among others.
“We’re okay with these jobs as their minimal salaries are squeezed to the last cent, but when it comes for a top job, a top place, or a €50,000 prize, we just can’t swallow it,” Debono said, underlining the hypocrisy in such attitude.
Commenting on Sunday’s show, Debono observed that this was another such case.
“Yesterday was an obvious case of eliminating 2 top potential winners cause god forbid it was won by a non-Maltese national. This is called hypocrisy and nothing to be proud of but rather ashamed of. I’m not mincing my words, this was a case of a clear cut above the rest, a league of their own,” Debono stated.
He also denounced the avalanche of posts and articles peddling the Maltese “patriotic” narrative, as he noted that Marija Bellia’s version of the classic “L-Aħħar Bidwi” was magical and special, however, she did not make it to the live shows.
“I speak from the heart with zero intentions, but this narrative that just because something or someone is special because they are Maltese, does not do our music scene or the artists themselves any good. Maltese is not a style, it’s not a talent, it’s a language. And I’m mentioning this as sometimes, it ends up being a gimmick or a patriotic card to play for votes or TV air time,” Debono said.
While there are events, festivals, and TV shows strictly for the use of the Maltese, Debono observed that “there was no need to shove down everyone’s throat the whole patriotic narrative in an international brand TV show making the non-Maltese contestants feeling they’re doing a crime participating.”
The music producer stopped short of calling out the misplaced nationalism seen over the past weeks, for what it is: racism.
“Sean and Mamaclay have given us performances that most can only dream of,” Debono continued, adding that they elevated the standard of X Factor Malta to new grounds.
Addressing Sean Kamati, Debono said “you didn’t need to prove to anyone you have the ultimate X Factor after Purple Rain and It’s a man’s man’s man’s world. Those weren’t just local stellar performances but international top 3 World Wide performances which equates to 3 from 8 billion people.”
During the last two live-shows, Kamati still sang despite having bronchitis. This however impacted his performance.
“As result of that reality you gave us 20% last week and 50% this week of what you could offer. It happens, but very few mortals can do what you did with bronchitis. There’s no fast recovery for singers with bronchitis so for those isolated idiots who had audacity to question your talent based on a 50% performance, simply exposes their limited brain power,” Debono wrote.
Sean Kamati has been hailed for his class and artistry, and has stood out since his room audition.
As for Mamaclay, Debono said: “Never in my entire 30 years working professionally in music, have I worked with a singer as gifted as you and I’ve worked with many good singers ! You suffered a lot in your life cause you wanted to do music, lived in a house for 6 years with no doors & windows, helped others achieve their goals but your goals were discouraged so many times and yet you risked everything you have to come to Malta with a low confidence hoping for a break.”
The X Factor judge noted that while Mamaclay’s repertoire was not his typical playlist he recognised her talent immediately.
“God has been good to you by giving you the talent, the stage presence, the voice and the impeccable tone. Everyone knows this but that’s not all. Two music giants – Whitney Houston and Clive Davies called you a few months before Whitney passed away for you to join her on her Asian tour. You truly are one of a kind and born to do this,” he stated.
Debono reiterated that Mamaclay’s elimination was unjust and was going to make him re-think his journey.
“The final show is not going to be the same without both of you, but we still have Richard fighting for the Overs on your behalf.”