Yahoo! honours inaugural ‘Singapore 9′ winners


Some of the nominees and winners of the inaugural Yahoo! Singapore 9. (Yahoo! photo/Jeanette Tan)

Veteran Singapore political opposition leader Chiam See Tong headlined the inaugural Yahoo! Singapore 9 awards on Friday night.

Held at klapsons, The Boutique Hotel at Tanjong Pagar, luminaries from Singapore's arts,  business, media, culture, sports and non-profit industries gathered for the inaugural celebration of the Yahoo! Singapore 9 campaign.

But it was the former Potong Pasir Member of Parliament and Singapore People's Party leader, who was accompanied by his wife and non-constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Lina and daughter Camilla, who attracted the most attention.

"I feel very honoured. Especially when you've got such prestigious people like Prime Minister Lee and Mr Wijeysingha and the others (who were nominated alongside me) ... and I thank Yahoo! for giving me such a big honour," Mr Chiam told Yahoo! Singapore.

Hoping his win would inspire younger Singaporeans, the 76-year-old said, "I'm just an ordinary Singaporean. Unless a man is convinced that he has a mission to accomplish in Singapore, he will not come forward... I definitely think Singapore has changed, there's no doubt about that. It's just a question of time... Singapore will be more open and able to take all the different views of the world."

Key sponsor McDonald's Singapore director of marketing Agatha Yap poses with Mr and Mrs Chiam, alongside another representative from the food company. (Yahoo! photo/Jeanette Tan)

Mr Chiam topped the Singapore 9 online poll in the Politics category, beating out fellow nominees PM Lee Hsien Loong, former Foreign Minister George Yeo, National Solidarity Party candidate Nicole Seah and Singapore Democratic Party's Vincent Wijeysingha.

Held over the past four weeks, the campaign's aim was to honour nine Singaporeans in various categories through an online poll, which garnered over 50,000 votes.

Local filmmaker Royston Tan, who topped the Culture category by garnering the most votes ahead of the likes of Amanda Heng and Dick Lee, also received celebrity treatment, with many guests eager for a quick snap with him.

Acknowledging his win, the director of local hit films like "881" and "12 Lotus" said it was awards like these that kept him going.

"I think this a wonderful campaign that Yahoo! has. It's quite alternative and you feature different people who would not usually be featured on mainstream media," he said. "Singapore isn't just about everything politically correct. We are made of people from all walks of life and they all deserve a voice, and I'm very proud to be a part of that, " he added, before adding that shaking hands with Mr Chiam was "an awesome moment".

Yahoo! regional managing editor Alan Soon presents Royston Tan with his award for Arts and Culture. (Yahoo! photo/Jeanette Tan)

"To get encouragement like this keeps us going, continues to inspire us to keep going, and hopefully inspires younger people to continue what we have started," he added.

President and CEO of the Securities Investors Association of Singapore (SIAS) David Gerald, who topped the Business Category, also thanked those who voted for him and admitted the win was "unexpected".

He said, "I myself voted for Tharman Shanmugaratnam.  I think he deserves it, he's done a lot in his capacity as Minister for Finance. Mr Heng Swee Keat too, he's done a lot as chairman of MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore)."

"But I suppose I was given the recognition for the issues that I have championed for the downtrodden, the small people... I am pleased that the SIAS and my team who helped me achieve what we've achieved for the past 12 years has been recognised by Yahoo! and the visitors to Yahoo!," he added.

"Yahoo! should be congratulated for this move... it goes a long way to encourage people involved in pursuing their social entrepreneurship, and their agenda for the interests of mankind, be it a politician or people like me, helping the small people," he said.

Yahoo! regional managing editor Alan Soon poses with ACRES founder Louis Ng (right) and his wife, Amy. (Yahoo! photo/Jeanette Tan)

Founder of Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) Louis Ng also thanked the voters for his win in the NGO category.

He told Yahoo! Singapore that he and his wife, Amy, who was present with him, will continue to champion animal rights, and are planning to take their cause around the region to work with other groups to save more animals from exploitation and mistreatment.

Popular blogger, Lee Kin Mun aka mrbrown, who topped the closely contested Media category ahead of the likes of Wendy Cheng (Xiaxue), former The Online Citizen editor Andrew Loh and political commentator Alex Au, was unable to attend the ceremony but he acknowledged those who voted for him.

"I am deeply humbled and honoured to be elected by the voters for the very first Yahoo! 9s," he said before adding in typical irreverent fashion, "I promise to be the Voice of the People, wait that's Tan Cheng Bock... the Conscience of the People, wait that's Tan Jee Say... the Steady Hand of the People, wait that's Tony Tan. Ok lah, I promise to be the Nostril Hair of the People, keeping out foreign particles from the Lungs of the People... and I promise to work together with the UN for World Peace!"

Others who attend the ceremony included former chief editor of The Online Citizen Andrew Loh, political blogger Alex Au and under-16 Cubs team captain Jeffrey Lightfoot.

Despite going home empty-handed, Loh said he was flattered to be nominated for the award.

"The last time I was nominated for anything was in primary school -- for the class football team," he joked. "I think this (campaign) should continue, definitely, because there are a lot of people doing work quietly, but very good and necessary work, and giving them recognition will also inspire other people to step forward and do more good work for the community," he added.

Lightfoot, who has also recently recovered from an injury that kept him out of the Lion City Cup agreed, adding that he was particularly grateful to his parents who enthusiastically rallied for votes for him.

"I feel very honoured (to be nominated) because they (other nominees including Fandi Ahmad, Theresa Goh and Tao Li) are such famous people and they've done so much for their respective sports," he said. "I was very excited to be nominated! I didn't expect to be there, and I was very happy and proud that I was. I didn't mind not winning, I was just very shocked that I was nominated."

He added that he was inspired when reading about the achievements of nominees in other categories such as in Entertainment and the Media.

"It motivates me to do much better than what I am now, and I will hopefully be as successful in football as they are (in their own fields) in the future," he said.

Here's a rundown of the inaugural Yahoo! Singapore 9 award winners:

  • Politics: Chiam See Tong
  • Business: David Gerald
  • Arts & culture: Royston Tan
  • NGOs: Louis Ng (ACRES)
  • Entertainment: Taufik Batisah
  • Sports: Fandi Ahmad
  • Media: Lee Kin Mun (mrbrown)
  • Youth: Olivia Ong
  • Thinkers: Ho Kwon Ping