Creative trailblazers and an infamous agitator are Singapore’s famous five this year

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Vice Patron of The Royal Commonwealth Society, on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen, Patron of The Royal Commonwealth Society, with Janine Shum, Junior Winner, during a reception for winners of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition at Buckingham Palace on 22 November 2018 in London. (Photo: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

In this year-end special, Yahoo News Singapore profiles Singaporeans (present and former) who made global headlines in 2018. For most of these high achievers, their achievements should be a celebration of their talent and perseverance. Our list also includes Singaporeans who attained infamy that could only be amplified by social media.

Writers Janine Shum and Ng Woon Neng

Two Singaporean students earned themselves a trip to London for winning awards in The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2018. Janine Shum won in the junior category for her poem comparing the experiences of two schoolgirls, one in Afghanistan and the other in Singapore. Ng Woon Neng was runner-up in the senior category for a short story about health, wealth and happiness. The competition, which has been an annual event since 1883, received 12,000 entries this year.

Photographer Sim Chi Yin

Sim Chi Yin is one awesome photographer. For her work capturing themes of social justice and inequality, Sim won the Getty Images and Chris Hondros Fund Award this year. The win caps a brilliant couple of years for the globe-trotting snapper. For her series on nuclear weapons, Sim was the first Singaporean to win the commission as photographer for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Vlogger Amos Yee

Amos Yee courted controversy again in 2018 after popping up online as a defender of paedophilia. A barrage of complaints and global condemnation were followed by his social media accounts being shuttered. The 20-year-old was granted asylum in the US last year as a political refugee but the most recent events in his already infamous life have placed that arrangement under a cloud.

Author Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians was arguably one of the films of 2018, winning acclaim from critics. The screen adaption of Kevin Kwan’s 2013 novel has also helped bring more Asian faces to Hollywood. Unfortunately for Singapore-born Kwan, he made a bigger splash here for dodging his National Service in the 1990s rather than for blazing a trail for Asian creatives.

Poker player Kenneth Kee

He’s made millions from the fall of a playing card but his fortune is no dumb luck – Kenneth Kee is a poker-playing professional whose success comes from hard work. After winning S$3.9 million at a tournament in South Korea earlier this year, Kee said sweat was his secret weapon. “I’ve been working really hard the past three years … literally every day playing up to 12 to 16 hours and sleeping, on average, four to five hours per day.”


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