Let's Go, Singapore! Notable Moments On The Global Scene In 2023
2023 has been a year full of triumphs and victories for Singapore. To ring in the new year, we've curated a list of notable moments when our Little Red Dot made waves on the world map this year.
On 6 Feb, a magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit Turkey and Syria, leaving thousands dead and injured. To facilitate the search, rescue and relief efforts, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) sent a 20-man team from its 79-member Operation Lionheart contingent.
Operation Lionheart is a dedicated 79-member contingent of the SCDF on standby round-the-clock. Its core function is to provide urban search and rescue and/or humanitarian relief assistance to countries afflicted by major disasters.
After losing out amidst the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021 and 2022, Changi Airport was named the world's best airport by London-based research firm Skytrax for the 12th time at the 2023 World Airport Awards.
Changi Airport held the top spot for eight consecutive years from 2013 to 2020 – the longest winning streak since the World Airport Awards were first given out in 2000.
In addition, the airport was also named best in Asia, best in the world for leisure amenities, and best in the world for airport dining, while Crowne Plaza Changi Airport was named the world's best airport hotel for the eighth year in a row.
IMAGES: UNSPLASH AND YOUTUBE
On 23 March, TikTok CEO and fellow Singaporean Chew Shou Zi was grilled by Congress for over 5 hours on TikTok's usage and data collection practices. Despite the long and gruelling hearing, Mr Chew was calm and collected throughout, representing Singapore with dignity.
While competing at the Australian Open Track and Field Championships in Brisbane, 26-year-old sprinter Shanti Pereira became the first Singaporean woman to go under 23 seconds in the event, clocking 22.89 seconds during the heats.
The reigning SEA Games women's 200m gold medallist also broke the national women's 100m record twice in two days, clocking 11.38 seconds during the heats on 31 March, followed by 11.37 seconds to place first in the finals on 1 April.
(More awesomeness from Shanti below!)
11 Apr: Casuarina Primary School student Elizabeth Ng is the first Singaporean to broadcast an original song in space
10-year-old aspiring cosmo-artist Elizabeth Ng Ziqi, who was enrolled in the Wall-Pie Space Juniors Program to learn about rocketry ballistics and space control systems, created an AI song, Space Nomad, which was broadcasted on the International Space Station (ISS).
Her achievement was made possible with the help of Singapore-based Space Education and Technology company Wall-Pie and the Tabernacle Health Group, another Singapore-based company which is collaborating with Wall-Pie on the future of space health.
Singapore's only Red Bull athlete and reigning world indoor skydiving champion Kyra Poh added another medal to her collection of over 60 after winning a gold medal at the 4th FAI WISC 2023, held from April 20 to 22 in Liptovský Mikuláš, Slovakia.
This is her sixth consecutive gold win since 2020, 14th gold overall for the Solo Freestyle Open discipline, and first gold in the WISC competition.
IMAGE: SINGAPORE DISABILITIY SPORTS COUNCIL
29 Apr: World record and gold for Yip Pin Xiu at Citi World Para Swimming World Series Singapore 2023
Yip Pin Xiu broke the world record for S2 Women’s 200m Free with a timing of 4:41.46, almost six seconds faster than the previous record held by China’s Feng Yazhu. She finished with 1003 points to win gold, 95 points ahead of Thailand’s Nattharinee Khajhonmatha.
"I did not expect the world record because I just started swimming the 200m last year. It was only during the heats when I swam just 0.4 seconds behind it – I knew I had to go for it," said Yip.
"Singaporeans have been so supportive here at OCBC Aquatic Centre and I really enjoy swimming in this pool. To break another world record again, eight years after my 50m backstroke at the ASEAN Para Games is very special to me. I am very grateful that what my team has done in the lead up to this meet has come to fruition."
Badminton player Loh Kean Yew made history when he became the first ever Singaporean to qualify for the Badminton Asia Championships Final in Dubai. Not only that, he brought home a hard-won silver medal for his efforts.
Talk about a medal sweep! Here are some highlights:
Ju-jitsu exponent Noah Lim bags Singapore's first gold medal for the 2023 SEA Games - while recovering from a dislocated finger, which left him with only one functional hand at the time.
Swimmer Jonathan Tan breaks records at the 2023 SEA Games, clocking 21.91 seconds in the 50m morning heats and 21.95 seconds in the finals.
On that day, Jonathan became the first to win both the 50m and 100m freestyles since Joseph Schooling at the 2015 SEA Games. Not only that, his time for the 50m freestyle qualified him for the 2024 Paris Olympics!
Also in swimming, the women's swimming 4x100m freestyle relay quartet of Quah Ting Wen, Nur Marina Chan, Quah Jing Wen and Amanda Lim win Singapore's 1,000th SEA Games gold medal.
7 May: Silat exponents Amirah Sahrin, Iffah Batrisyia Noh and Nur Ashikin Zulkifli clinch Singapore's first-ever gold in the women's artistic silat team event.
The artistic team event is where trios perform a group routine, showcasing a variety of silat moves during a three-minute period, and are given points on their combined synchronisation, execution of technique and energy.
8 and 12 May: Sprinter Shanti Pereira becomes the first Singaporean to win both the 200m and 100m women's events at the same edition of the SEA Games, clocking 22.69 seconds in the 200m event on 8 May and 11.41 seconds in the 100m event on 12 May.
IMAGE: VOICES OF SINGAPORE
11 May: Singaporean composer and conductor Darius Lim appointed board member of the International Federation for Choral Music (IFCM)
Dr. Darius Lim, composer, conductor, and Artistic Director of Voices of Singapore (VOS), was appointed to the Board of Directors of IFCM after a rigorous election process conducted by IFCM earlier in the year.
"I am thrilled about the opportunity to promote Singaporean and Asian choral cultures to the world and to effect positive change through choral singing," Dr Lim said.
"Collaborating with my fellow board members, many of whom I have long admired for their trailblazing and inspirational work in their respective countries, will be an exciting endeavour."
STEP Studio's STEP Youth Crew took home 1st prize at "FINALS", an international dance competition held at the 8,000-capacity Volkswagen Halle indoor sporting arena in Braunschweig, Germany.
"I think what was most amazing was that full house standing ovation that we got at the end of the piece, the whole stadium cheering “Singapore! Singapore! Singapore!”, and just everyone giving us hugs and crying with us because the love and support this country and this community has is immeasurable," said STEP studio co-founder Stephanie Loh.
25 para-athletes representing six sports brought home Singapore's second largest APG medal haul (12 golds, 15 silvers, 17 bronzes), 16 new national records, 9 new games records, and 17 new personal bests.
Aside from being the 1st Singaporean and Asian to make the German team, the 18-year old athlete has also made history in the world of sports by being the first Singaporean woman to play in a European league, FA Women's National League South, where she played for the London Bees till May 2023.
She is also the first Singaporean to be accepted into a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1 football programme, a leading football programme in the United States.
Under the direction of Artistic Director and Composer-Conductor Dr. Darius Lim (see May above), the choir delivered stunning renditions of choral arrangements of Singaporean folk tunes and international choral pieces that evening.
The young singers demonstrated an impressive mastery of their craft with perfectly synchronised choreography, earning them a standing ovation and thunderous applause at the end of their performance segment.
Her hard-won victory came two months after a back injury that left her unable to walk or lift her legs without excruciating pain.
Thanks to her unbreakable focus and willpower, Farid not only reclaimed her title but also set a new world record at 203kg, marking her 6th world record in a year.
18 Jun: Team Singapore fencer Amita Berthier claims a historic bronze at the Asian Fencing Championships in Wuxi, China
The 22-year-old wrote in an Instagram post: "This is a huge milestone for me, and words cannot describe the gratitude I have for all the support I’ve received up to this point."
In 2021, Amita - who is refining and perfecting her skills at the University of Notre Dame in the United States - became the first Singaporean fencer to be part of a National Collegiate Athletic Association team championship win. That same year, she also became the first Singaporean fencer to clinch a spot at the Olympic Games (Tokyo 2020).
IMAGE: SINGAPORE DISABILITY SPORTS COUNCIL
8 to 14 Jul: Singaporean duo Aloysius Gan and Yan Jia Yi secure historic victory at inaugural World Boccia Youth Championships
Singaporean boccia athletes Aloysius Gan and Yan Jia Yi etched their names in history by capturing the championship title in the BC3 Pairs event at the inaugural World Boccia Youth Championships, which took place in Povoa de Varzim, Portugal, featuring close to 50 aspiring youth athletes with disabilities from 12 nations.
They also secured resounding victories in their BC3 Individuals events, where Aloysius Gan emerged as the Champion in the BC3 Individuals (Male) category, and Yan Jia Yi claimed a well-deserved bronze medal in the BC3 Individuals (Female) category.
14 and 16 July: Sprint queen Shanti Pereira is Singapore's Wonder Woman
At the Asian Athletics Championships in Bangkok, the 26-year-old sprint queen clocked a time of 11.20 seconds in the 100m event and 22.70 seconds in the 200m event to earn a historic double gold.
31-year-old IT manager Vincere Zeng and 47-year-old public servant Sim Phei Sunn spent seven days scaling K2, which stands at 8,611m tall, making it the world's second-tallest mountain. Both women have also previously conquered Mount Everest, with Vincere Zeng doing so a mere 70 days before reaching the K2 summit.
K2 is considered more treacherous despite not being as tall as Mount Everest due to its steep ascent and unforgiving terrain, earning it the nickname "Savage Mountain" as a result. Only 2 Singaporeans (both men) have made it to the peak of K2 previously, once in 2012 and the other in 2014.
Hot on the heels of her victory in Bangkok, Shanti Pereira clocked 23.32 seconds to claim gold in the 200m at the Mittsommernacht Athletics meet in Berlin, beating the reigning European 100m and 4x100m relay champion Gina Luckenkemper.
The 31-year-old clocked 2 min 17.78 sec in the women's 100m backstroke S2 on 3 August, earning her third consecutive title in the event and sealing a spot for Singapore at the 2024 Paris Paralympics.
3 days later, she also successfully defended her title in the women's 50m backstroke S2 with a time of 1min 4.10 sec, making it her third consecutive victory in that event as well.
Singapore's Yi Wei Athletic Association, which has been competing in the event since 2005, saw Team B bringing home the gold with 9.73 points, while Team A earned bronze with a score of 9.58.
Up till now, Malaysia lion dance troupes had won the title every year since the Championships first began in 1994.
Thanks to her impressive world rankings in the women's 100m and 200m events, Shanti Pereira became the first Singaporean in over a decade to qualify for the World Athletics Championships on merit.
24 August: Shanti Pereira reaches World Championships semi-finals
The sprint queen clocked a time of 22.57 seconds in Heat 3 of the women's 200m event at the World Athletics Championships, finishing second place and becoming the first Singaporean ever to reach the World Championships semi-finals.
Aside from breaking her previous best of 22.69 seconds back in May, her time also met the qualifying mark for the women's 200m event in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
27 September: Jowen Lim bags historic wushu silver at Asian Games
With a combined score of 19.476 in daoshu and gunshu, Jowen Lim's victory also marks Singapore's first-ever men's daoshu and gunshu all-round medal at the Games.
With a time of 11.27 seconds, Shanti Pereira ended Singapore's 49-year wait for an athletics medal at the Asian Games.
1 and 2 October: Shanti makes history yet again
Despite the 200m heats taking place a mere 12 hours after her silver win, Shanti Pereira topped all three heats on 1 October with the fastest qualifying time of 23.14 seconds while running on barely 6 hours of sleep.
She then sprinted her way to victory on 2 October with a time of 23.03 seconds, bagging Singapore's first athletics gold at the Asian Games since 1974.
Homegrown designer Kavita Thulasidas unveiled her collection "Heritage Reinterpreted" on an international stage at this year's Paris Fashion Week.
The collection consisted of 10 outfits featured intricate hand-embroidered motifs inspired by nature and paying tribute to Singapore's cultural diversity.
Our unofficial "national dish" aka chicken rice now has its own theme song, as composed by pianist Nicholas Ho, with lyrics written and sung by his partner Janani Sridhar.
As part of the same song cycle SingBites, which was inspired by the sights, smells, sounds and tastes of Singapore, the duo also created a song about the noisy Asian koel bird, with whom most Singaporeans have a love-hate relationship.
The songs have been performed at US recitals, while snippets were uploaded to TikTok, with the Chicken Rice song garnering over 144k views and 9k likes.
26 and 27 October: Toh Wei Soong smashes Asian Para Games records for triple gold
With a time of 1 min 14.99 sec in the men's 100m backstroke S7, para swimmer Toh Wei Soong won Singapore's first gold at the Games on 26 October.
He also set a new Games record with his time and met the minimum qualifying standard for the 2024 Paris Paralympics.
The next day, he went on to break another record with a 28.81 seconds swim in the men's 50m freestyle S7 for his second gold medal.
Barely an hour later, he clocked a 30.49 seconds victory in the men's 50m butterfly S7, earning him a third gold.
For the first time since 2007, Singapore's netball team claimed victory at the Mirxes Nations Cup with a hard-fought 59-56 win over Papau New Guinea.
Cikadpriset, or the Cikada Prize, is an award conferred annually by the Swedish Institute to an East Asian poet who "in his/her poems defends the inviolability of life".
This year, poet Theophilus Kwek is not only the first Singaporean but also the youngest writer to win this prestigious prize since its inception in 2004.
Run by brothers Raimy and Roimy Tan, Halal Western eatery Brostern in Hougang's Ci Yuan Hawker Centre was one of 53 Southeast Asian merchants featured on the billboards of New York's Times Square as part of a campaign by Grab from 13 to 20 November.
Four other Singapore merchants were also plastered on the big screens: Mian Mian Bu Duan, a peanut pancake stall in Bukit Merah; Prata Lahhh!, a do-it-yourself prata outlet in Hougang; Nakin Thai, which serves Thai food in Clementi; and Fukudon, a Japanese food stall in Marine Parade.
They were plagued by frequent blackouts and murky tap water in the hotel, as well as attacks of mosquitoes and houseflies. In addition, Jessica Tan developed a severe sore throat, flu and runny nose just prior to the tournament.
Despite this, the husband-and-wife badminton duo persevered and won the Guwahati Masters mixed doubles, earning their second title of the season.
11 December: NUS Associate Professor becomes first Singaporean scientist to receive Novartis Early Career Award in Chemistry
Associate Professor Koh Ming Joo was honoured with this prestigious accolade, given annually to outstanding early career scientists who have made a significant contribution to chemistry, for the notable breakthroughs he's made in the field of sustainable chemical synthesis.
15 December: Farhanna Farid breaks her own world record twice
After a miracle comeback in June (see above), powerlifter Farhanna Farid surpassed herself again at the Asian Classic Powerlifting Championships in Johor Bahru.
In the Under-52kg open category, she deadlifted 203.5 kg on her second try, beating her earlier world record of 203 kg. After that, she shattered her own record yet again with a stunning feat of 208 kg, rewriting her world record for the 8th time.