Vietnam Idol says no discrimination against disabled contestant

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Organizers of popular singing competition Vietnam Idol rejected an allegation that a handicapped contestant was discriminated against during an audition in Hanoi last month, saying the show's judges were fair.

"What happened between contestant Son Lam and judge Siu Black was an emotional issue," the organizers said in a statement cited by local media this week.

"When a contestant has overcome many difficulties to be allowed to sing before the judges, it's easy to understand that the contestant wants to succeed and go through to the next round," the statement said.

They also said the judges' decision to eliminate Son Lam was "fair and rational."

Nguyen Son Lam, however, said he was discriminated against during his audition. In a statement written to the media, Lam said Siu Black told him that she was surprised with his performance. However, she's sorry that he could not go through because the competition is "not just about singing," he said.

"She told me that if I competed in a contest for the handicapped, I would have won," Lam said. According to Van Hoa Online news website, Lam, 28, is an Agent Orange victim. He is 83 centimeters tall and weighs 23 kilograms.

Singer Siu Black, one of the three judges on Vietnam Idol, denied Lam's accusation. She said she could not understand his reaction.

Siu Black said what she actually told Lam during his audition was, "If in a show for the handicapped, you want to sing for everybody, you will succeed."

She said everything will become clear when the tape is showed.

Vietnam Idol's organizers have refused to release the tape until the first episode of the show is aired on August 21.

The ongoing third season of the competition reality show has drawn more than 22,600 audition registrations from across the country.

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