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It's something 90% of the world's population takes for granted. Photo: 123RF

What Do PM Lee, Fencer Amita Berthier And Lady Gaga Have In Common?

The answer to the headline: They're all left-handed. And yes, today is International Left-Handers Day!

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.

As if life wasn't already hard enough! Especially for someone with hefty national responsibilities like our Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, who posted about his left-handedness on International Left-Handers Day on 13 Aug 2021, and the reason he got his COVID-19 jabs on his right arm:

In the IG post, he points 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 goes 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."

(In fact, the word "sinister", which means "evil" or "malevolent", comes from the Latin word "sinestra", which means "on the left side". If you were a Lefty in the Middle Ages, you even ran the risk of being accused of witchcraft!)

PM Lee ends his 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".

Other left-handed greats include:

  • Amita Berthier, Singapore fencer who was named the Women's Foil Athlete of the Year by the United States Fencing Coaches Association (USFCA) in May 2022. Together with the women's foil team, she secure a joint-Bronze at the Asian Fencing Championships in Seoul in June 2022.
  • Barack Obama, former US president
  • Marie Curie, atomic scientist
  • Tom Cruise, Keanu Reeves, Jeremy Renner, action stars
  • Leonardo da Vinci, Renaissance painter and inventor
  • Aristotle, philosopher and polymath

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