We’ve reached the halfway mark of 2013 and we thought it’d be interesting to look back at some of the key moments we’ve gone through as a nation. In a world of quick interconnectedness and short attention spans it’s important to take the time to assess some of the brightest, the most shocking, the saddest, and the most controversial events that have taken place to best position our mindsets for the rest of the year.
We may have forgotten some notable events, so feel free to complete our list in the comments sections!
Punggol East by-election: The Workers’ Party victory in Punggol East was significant because it signaled to the government that the way it handles many outstanding issues (housing, education, health, and wages) is a determining factor in the opposition’s progress in Singapore’s political landscape.
Death of young brothers in Tampines: The tragic accident which led to the death of two very young boys on their way back home brought sadness, confusion, and anger in Singaporeans’ hearts but later gave way to empathy and solidarity when the boys’ father reacted with strength, courage, and dignity.
Ng Boon Gay saga: The former Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) director came to exemplify the very reason Singapore has always had a tough stance on corruption and illicit business practices, while the sexual nature of the allegations spruced up debate on public figures’ right to privacy.
Marriage and Parenthood package released: The release of measures favouring young couples and families clearly translated the government’s determination to reinvigorate Singapore’s fertility and thus reduce its reliance on foreigners.
Population White Paper: The outrage sparked by the White Paper’s release allowed Singaporeans to engage in concrete and healthy discussions while the protest that was organised against some of its measures sparked a level of citizen involvement very rarely seen in Singapore.
Budget 2013: The budget not only allocated funds and resources to address many of Singaporeans’ concerns, it signalled the government’s will to prioritise tough social matters that will only get tougher as Singapore strives to keep its image of a beacon of stability and prosperity.
Wage Credit Scheme: A key factor behind the development of a mature and capable local workforce, productivity measures such as the WCS were implemented to support businesses’ activities during tough global economic times.
SCDF Sex-for-contracts scandal: Apart from the public scrutiny over Peter Lim’s alleged sexual encounters, the scandal brought to light the often hushed world of high ranking officials and their murky business relations, seen as counter-productive practices in a free-market environment.
Sticker Lady is arrested: Samantha Lo’s artworks stirred controversy on many different levels; not only on the value and the nature of street art, but on the freedom artists have to express themselves in a country striving to become a regional arts hub.
Property cooling measures announced: The set of comprehensive cooling measures was implemented to safeguard local home buyers from seeing their purchasing power dwindling after speculators and foreigners brought property prices to an all-time high.
Changi cleaner killed: The freak accident that took Mr Chandra Mogan’s life sparked discussions on safety, foreigners, and prison sentences.
Singapore is top innovation city: Singapore’s high rankings in the fields of “stable politics, low government regulation and high saturation of global brands” was reinforced by its high scores in “the ‘human talent’ category, which takes into account ethnic diversity and percentage of migrants in the population”.
Record-setting property prices: Despite various rounds of cooling measures property prices kept on skyrocketing, making Singapore one of the most expensive cities in the world and generating anger from people looking to become property owners.
Kind NS Man: Dickson Phoon’s random act of kindness brought hope to many Singaporeans who were worried compassion, helpfulness, and graciousness are lost values among Singapore’s youth.
Progressive Wage Model gets more traction: The labour movement’s push for a progressive wage model in which wages progress according to workers’ experience and skills was increasingly seen as a viable alternative to a static and inflexible minimum wage model.
Chope Food for the Needy: Michelle Tan’s initiative for the needy roused Singaporeans’ sense of duty and charity towards those that have been progressively been left behind in Singapore’s race to the top.
Bukit Brown: The plans to destroy the iconic cemetery ignited various efforts to show its unique historical and cultural importance to Singapore and sparked debate on the importance of preserving heritage.
Botanic Gardens candidate for UNESCO heritage site: Singapore’s ambition to receive the much-coveted UNESCO seal of approval was seen by observers as a solid step towards more comprehensive heritage preservation policies and as a clear sign that Singapore’s past is valuable to the world.
Graciousness Index falls: the Index, which reflects Singaporeans’ perception, declined compared to previous years, a finding that led many people to reflect on how to quickly and durably instil such first world values.
May Day protests held at Hong Lim Park: Many Singaporeans flocked to Hong Lim Park to express their many daily preoccupations and grievances, a solid step towards public participation in social and economic policy-making.
Sex for grades case: Tey Tsun Hang, the law professor who was accused of exchanging grades for gifts and sexual favours, brought to light the power professors hold over students when grades and exam results can determine a student’s entire future.
MDA announces tougher regulations for news websites: The decision to put websites under the same type of strict regulations as other forms of media wasn’t well received by industry professionals and netizens alike.
Flexi-work gets more and more support: The increasing demand for better work-life balance led the government to launch some pilot programmes as well as some discussions with industry leaders to find flexi-work arrangements in line with the country’s push for productivity.
Singa the Courtesy Lion resigns: Half publicity stunt and half observation on the state of graciousness sin Singapore, Singa’s resignation was received with a mix of incredulity and consternation.
Abused intern brings attention to interns’ working conditions: A video of a boss physically mistreating one of his employees sparked passionate debate on interns’ rights, working conditions in Singapore, and employers’ rights and obligations.
Fast and Furious stars shocked at Singapore prices: The Hollywood stars’ reactions to car and COE prices in Singapore light-heartedly poked fun at some of the incredible prices Singaporeans are expected to pay in order to own cars.
Singapore is the world’s richest city: Singapore’s constant high ranking in surveys and studies also highlights the increasing social inequalities and the impeding economic disparities that have been worsening these past 10 years.
AHPETC-NEA Stand-Off: A long-winded political stand-off around cleaner fees brought to light some of the immature sparring that goes on behind the scenes and diverted attention from cleaners’ plight.
Free MRT rides for early birds: The measure, aimed at lightening overcrowded public transport and easing transport costs, was well received in principle but not overly used in practice.
Singapore ranks high in Global Peace Index: Singapore’s status as a stable and safe haven for investments was confirmed by the survey which favourably ranked the country against various objective criteria.
Slashing at Orchard Road: The unprovoked attack of a passer-by sparked outrage as such senseless violence was seen as a consequence of some of Singapore’s youth being unemployed and/or uneducated.
The haze: The haze from Indonesia reached particularly dangerous levels and led Singapore and Malaysia leaders to get into diplomatic rifts with their Indonesian counterparts.
Record number of dengue cases: The unparalleled spread of dengue led to various anti-dengue campaigns and many other neighbourly initiatives to inform on its symptoms and dangers.
Hello Kitty craze strikes again: Tempers flew high as people fought over limited edition Hello Kitty Dolls.
Record number of attendants and supporters at Pink Dot 2013: Over 21,000 people made the trip to Hong Lim Park to show their support for equal rights in Singapore, leading Vincent Wijeysingha to become the first Singaporean politician to openly discuss his homosexuality.
Gordon Ramsay in Singapore: A publicity stunt led the world-acclaimed Chef to challenge Singaporean hawker cooks in a battle of skills.
Talk about a rollercoaster of emotions! We can only wonder what the next 6 months will hold for us!