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Fun fact: About 10% of the world's population is left-handed. Photo: 123RF

Happy International Left-Handers Day: Celebrating Lefties In Singapore

If you're left-handed, here's wishing you a Happy International Left-Handers Day (13 Aug)!

Most of us - in fact, 90% of the world's population - take our right-handedness for granted because many of the objects we use were designed and invented (most likely by right-handers) for right-handers.

Think of scissors, ball-point pens, ball-point pens at counters that are attached to a cord, swiping credit cards (thank goodness for payWave), handling a rifle during BMT, those irritating foldable lecture tables, musical instruments like the guitar... the list goes on.

On this special day, we remember the daily challenges that left-handed people face which their right-handed counterparts don't have to worry about! Plus, we throw the spotlight on some very accomplished Singaporean lefties:

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong signing the guestbook at the Pentagon on 1 Apr, 2013. | IMAGE: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

In an IG post dated 13 Aug 2021 (yes, on International Left-Handers Day), PM Lee pointed out that he received his COVID-19 jab on his non-dominant right arm before revealing that “I’m left-handed, like about 10% of people”.

PM Lee went on to mention the negative associations linked to left-handers, especially in earlier generations: “Some parents would forcibly train their left-handed children to be right-handed.”

He ended the post with a gentle reminder “that we are all unique in our own special ways, and we can all help build a more inclusive world together”.


Fencer Amita Berthier

During the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games, left-handed fencer Amita, along with teammates Melanie Huang, Maxine Wong, and Tatiana Wong, achieved a significant milestone by securing a bronze medal in the team foil event. This victory marked Singapore’s inaugural fencing team medal at the competition.

In April 2021, Amita beat Yala Alborova from Uzbekistan to become the first Singaporean fencer to earn a spot at the Olympics (Tokyo 2022).

On 18 Jun this year, Amita put Singapore on the world map again by claiming a historic bronze at the Asian Championships in Wuxi, China.

Coming up next, alongside wushu exponent Jowen Lim, Amita will be a flag bearer for Team Singapore at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games, which will see 431 athletes from the Republic (our largest Asiad contingent!) heading to China later this year to compete in 32 sports.


Table tennis player Koen Pang

Another left-handed Team Singapore athlete who has been making waves is paddler Koen Pang. In 2019, at the age of 17, he became the first Singaporean to become the Under-18 world No. 1.

Not only that, while doing national service, he was awarded the 2021 NSF of the Year by the Singapore Army, an honour presented to “outstanding full-time National Servicemen (NSF) who have demonstrated professionalism, leadership and exemplary conduct during their National Service”.

This year, Koen and fellow paddler Izaac Quek beat the competition at the 2023 Singapore Smash in March, and made history by becoming the first Singapore-born national paddlers to push through into the Top 100 international table tennis Men’s Singles ranking.

Most recently, he returned triumphantly from the 2023 SEA Games in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with golds in the Men’s Doubles (again, with Izaak) and Men’s Team events.

Other well-known lefties:

  • Barack Obama, former US president
  • Marie Curie, atomic scientist
  • Oprah Winfrey, talk show host and media mogul
  • Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft
  • Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, Justin Bieber, music icons
  • Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Keanu Reeves, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lawrence, Hollywood stars
  • Leonardo da Vinci, Renaissance painter and inventor
  • Aristotle, philosopher and polymath

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