Filipina Caregiver Wins Israeli Version of “X Factor”

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Filipina Caregiver Wins Israeli Version of “X Factor”

Also: Lucasfilm regional headquarters open in Singapore, Malaysia cracks down on undocumented foreigners.

Some Friday ASEAN links:

A migrant worker from the Philippines has won Israel’s version of “X Factor,” a televised music competition that has been exported around the globe.

Rose Fostanes, who moved to Israel six years ago to work as a caregiver, has become an unlikely household name in the Jewish-majority state.

Fostanes, 47, edged out the competition with her rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”

In the U.K – the country where X Factor debuted – and other countries where the show has become a hit with viewers, winners often get record deals and a national concert tour. Fostanes, however, may be rendered unable to benefit from her televised success.

“Her visa status means that despite being the most high-profile singer in the country at the moment, she cannot make money performing or recording in Israel, unless an exception is made,” said CNN.

In recent week, Israel has faced scrutiny over an alleged track record of discrimination and abuse against foreign workers. Protests have become increasingly common, with migrants demanding better treatment by authorities.

Fostanes hopes that her celebrity status will open dialogue between Israeli employers and their foreign employees.

Over in Singapore, Lucasfilm has opened a state-of-the-art regional headquarters – further evidence of the nation’s interactive and digital media industry boom.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien and company founder George Lucas toured the 22,500-square-meter office complex – dubbed the Sandcrawler Building after a vehicle from the first Star Wars film – on Thursday.

According to Variety, the facility will be involved in the production of animation and special effects for the upcoming Star Wars movies.

Lee described the complex as a “United Nations of talent,” which will employ workers from nearly 40 different countries. It has given jobs to more than 100 Singaporeans.

The Sandcrawler Building will also house regional offices for the Walt Disney Company and ESPN Asia Pacific.

Singapore’s interactive and digital media industry has grown to more than $1.5 billion since 2008.

Finally, Malaysian government officials have promised to crack down on illegal immigrants starting January 21. The announcement prompted Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia, J. Eduardo Malaya, to press Filipinos living in the country to update their documentation or return home.

Undocumented foreigners face prison sentences and deportation if caught. Malaya said that illegal Filipinos could avoid prosecution by voluntarily leaving the country.

“Malaysia … is notorious as a destination for undocumented Filipinos who pass through the southernmost province of the Philippines, Sulu, which is less than 50 kilometers from Malaysian province of Sabah,” said The Inquirer.

Earlier this week, Malaysia banned migrants from working at fast food restaurants in a bid to reverse “decades of dependence on cheap labor.”