In the tradition of TIME Person of the Year magazine cover, I am doing a Singapore edition for everyone to vote for your favourite Singaporean in 2013 as the year draws to an end (the voting box is at the end of this post).
Note that this poll is not officially endorsed by TIME Inc. I will announce the winner on New Year’s Eve, just before midnight 2014.
Without further ado, here’s my round-up of 12 individuals who created an impact to Singapore society this year (be it positive or negative):
James Raj Arokiasamy, 35, a Singapore man arrested and charged under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act in November has come to personify the many acts of online vandalism committed against various Singapore government websites.
He is accused of defacing a portion of the Ang Mo Kio town council website by adding the image of the Guy Fawkes Mask, displaying a statement addressed to Member of Parliament Ang Hin Kee and signing off with the name “The Messiah”.
His case is still ongoing and we can expect to hear more news about him in 2014.
Only Serina Wee can make it to the news by simply wearing a “chic black-and-white dress” to court. Only Serina Wee can have an entire news video dedicated to her sashaying in a “chic black-and-white dress”, without even speaking a single word to the camera.
Gilbert Goh of transition.org, a support site for the unemployed, became a folk hero of sort, organising three protests this year in Hong Lim Park against the ruling government’s population White Paper.
The first protest drew over 4,000 attendees and was deemed a success, given the limited media publicity. The subsequent two protests drew comparatively smaller crowd, with the last protest attracting less than 1,000 attendees.
Workers’ Party Lee Li Lian (16,038 votes or 54.52%) won the Punggol East By-Election by over 10% more votes than the next best candidate, People’s Action Party’s Dr Koh Poh Koon (12,856 votes or 43.71%) in a tense, four-corner fight.
Of much more humble roots than PAP’s Dr Koh, her win was a big surprise, garnering respect from many heartland Singaporeans.
Former Straits Times journalist and editor, Bertha Henson made the Media Development Authority (MDA) look silly in their attempt to get her to register her news commentary site, The Breakfast Network.
The curious saga has been well documented in the local news media and by Bertha herself. The strangest move by MDA was when it allegedly sent a a letter to the Breakfast Network saying that “should BNPL (Breakfast Network Private Limited) continue to exist, it must not operate any websites, Facebook pages, Twitter pages or any programme on the Internet which would constitute a contravention of MDA’s registration requirements”.
Though Singapore’s founding prime minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew is seen less in public these days, his appearance at any event or any speech he gives continue to draw lots of attention, both locally and globally.
He celebrated his 90th birthday this year and holds the record as the longest-serving parliamentarian.
About 170 academics, civil activists and other Singaporeans have since signed a statement of support for Alex.
This is not Alex’s first run-in with the authorities. He had a brush with the law minister, K Shanmugam last year and the People’s Action Party as a whole, early this year.
Yet he continues writing. Respect.
In October, the Singapore government granted Singaporean top swimmer, Joseph Schooling’s request to defer his National Service obligation, enabling the 18-year-old to focus on training until after the 2016 Olympics. He is due for enlistment in 2014 but has been granted deferment until 31 August 2016. This is the first time such a deferment has been granted .
Is Mr Chan Chun Sing set to be Singapore’s next Prime Minister?
It is not just about her winning a gold medal that is amazing, but the fact that she did it with limited governmental support and funding.
As Singapore’s only competitive female rower and its sole representative at the Games, her gold provided sweet victory over trying circumstances.
A three-time bronze medallist since the 2009 Games, Aisyah has been funding her own training and competition expenses throughout the year, and has practiced solo since the 2011 edition.
Huang Wenyong (25 July 1952 – 20 April 2013) was a Malaysia-born Singaporean actor, musician, and former teacher of Chinese descent. He was an actor for MediaCorp from the early 1980s until his death.
Appearing in more than 100 television programmes, he was among the first few batches of locally-trained actors to enter the local entertainment industry and considered to be one of the pioneers in local Chinese drama.
Huang died on 20 April 2013 of lymphoma, a cancer of the blood. Reactions to his death flooded the local online space with many flowing tributes and the lament of a bygone TV golden era in Singapore.
The riot earlier this month in Little India shook peaceful Singapore and jolted us not to take security concerns for granted.
In the worst of times, we also see some of the best in humanity. The unidentified man in the picture was caught on video, trying to stop the rioting.
“If it were not for him, I would have been beaten to death,” a teary-eyed Madam Wong Geck Woon told The Straits Times.
The unknown Samaritan, who was wearing a plaid shirt, rushed from the crowd, shoved her up the steps of the bus and told the driver to lock the vehicle.
Cast your vote now: