Advertisement

Year in Review 2023: Yahoo Singapore readers' top searched newsmakers

From leadership turbulence to losses in entertainment, here's a look back at the most-searched people in the news during 2023.

Reflecting on 2023: A year marked by triumphs, tragedies, and the unyielding spirit of individuals shaping our narrative.
Reflecting on 2023: A year marked by triumphs, tragedies, and the unyielding spirit of individuals shaping our narrative. (PHOTO: PMO/Screengrab/Getty Images/Sport Singapore/BryanFoo)

In 2023, impactful stories dominated news headlines, involving individuals who left an indelible mark on the year. From leaders confronting challenges to losses in entertainment and surprising political events, these figures shaped the narrative.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong navigated political hurdles, while the death of Coco Lee highlighted mental health struggles. Noteworthy resignations, like Cheng Li Hui's, and the tragic case of Abby Choi garnered widespread attention.

Veronica Shanti Pereira's achievements in sprinting brought pride, yet the year mourned the loss of tech pioneer Sim Wong Hoo. These stories encapsulate 2023's mix of successes, challenges, and unexpected turns.

As we look back at 2023 in our Year in Review, here is the list of the top 10 newsmakers that readers in Singapore were searching for.

Check out Yahoo readers' most-searched stories of 2023.
Check out Yahoo readers' most-searched stories of 2023.

10. Sim Wong Hoo

Sim Wong Hoo, the founder, chairman, and chief executive of Creative Technology and a prominent figure among Singapore's tech entrepreneurs, died at the age of 67 on 4 January.

He established the home-grown business in 1981 and has been at the company's helm since its inception. Creative announced Sim's passing in a bourse filing on 5 January without providing additional details. The business gained renown under his leadership for its Sound Blaster sound cards and digital entertainment products, which changed the tech landscape forever.

Sim Wong Hoo, the founder, chairman, and chief executive of Creative Technology died at the age of 67 on 4 January.
Sim Wong Hoo, the founder, chairman, and chief executive of Creative Technology died at the age of 67 on 4 January. (PHOTO: Joseph Nair/Yahoo News Singapore)

9. Shanti Pereira

Veronica Shanti Pereira, Singapore's sprint sensation, has had an exceptional and headline-grabbing year. She made history by winning the 200m gold medal at the 19th Asian Games, and becoming Singapore's first-ever sprint champion at the event.

Pereira's remarkable season comprised winning five significant gold medals: two at the Southeast Asian Games, two at the Asian Championships, and a victory in Hangzhou.

Additionally, she earned an Asian Games silver in the 100m, and stood out as the first Singaporean to qualify for the 200m semi-finals at the World Championships.

Singapore sprinter Shanti Pereira poses with her women's 200m gold medal at the 2023 Hangzhou Asian Games. (PHOTO: Sport Singapore/ Bryan Foo)
Singapore sprinter Shanti Pereira poses with her women's 200m gold medal at the 2023 Hangzhou Asian Games. (PHOTO: Sport Singapore/ Bryan Foo)

8. Lee Hsien Yang

Lee Hsien Yang, the younger brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has been at the centre of various controversies recently. In March, Singaporean authorities had said they were investigating the younger Lee for allegedly providing false evidence concerning the handling of their late father's will.

He and his wife, Lee Suet Fern, declined a police interview and left Singapore, as confirmed by Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean's written parliamentary answer on 2 March. In 2020, the couple was found to have lied during disciplinary proceedings related to Lee Kuan Yew's will.

Additionally, Lee Hsien Yang made recent headlines when the Singapore High Court directed him to pay damages to ministers K. Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan for defamatory statements made in Facebook comments about their rental of black-and-white bungalows on Ridout Road.

According to the court, he had failed to address the defamation lawsuits brought against him. Among other accusations, Lee had implied that the ministers engaged in corrupt practices and received preferential treatment from the Singapore Land Authority for their bungalow rentals.

The exact amount of damages will be determined in a subsequent hearing.

High Court ruling: Lee Hsien Yang directed to compensate Ministers Shanmugam and Balakrishnan for defamatory remarks on Ridout Road state bungalows
High Court ruling: Lee Hsien Yang directed to compensate Ministers Shanmugam and Balakrishnan for defamatory remarks on Ridout Road state bungalows. (PHOTO: MCI/YouTube and ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images )

7. George Goh

George Goh, the founder of Harvey Norman Ossia, declared his candidacy for the Singapore presidency on 12 June. Goh's bid faced attention when the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) rejected his argument regarding his managerial experience across five companies.

Despite submitting a case outlining his management expertise and performance, emphasising his senior executive roles in each company, Goh's team expressed disappointment with what they stated was the PEC's "very narrow interpretation of the requirements without explaining the rationale behind its decision".

Ultimately, the Elections Department (ELD) announced three qualified candidates — Ng Kok Song, Tan Kin Lian, and Tharman Shanmugaratnam — but Goh, despite his founding role in Harvey Norman Ossia, did not receive a certificate of eligibility. The certificate was meant to confirm a candidate's integrity, character, and meeting of relevant service requirements in the public or private sector, and without it, Goh could not participate in the election as a candidate.

Potential presidential candidate George Goh and his wife Lysa Sumali leave the Elections Department in Singapore June 13, 2023. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Edgar Su)
Potential presidential candidate George Goh and his wife Lysa Sumali leave the Elections Department in Singapore June 13, 2023. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Edgar Su)

6. Tan Kin Lian

Tan Kin Lian, the former NTUC Income CEO who previously ran for the Singapore presidency in 2011, entered the presidential race again this year.

During the campaign, he drew attention due to his social media activity, which gained prominence following the circulation of a viral TikTok video displaying his past posts. Tan initially stated that only a "small minority" found issues with his posts about "pretty" girls, believing most people would find them "quite fun."

However, the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) expressed worries over his involvement in the election, citing his "history of objectifying women".

Upon his nomination for the presidential election, Tan expressed confusion about the attention he received on his prior social media posts but offered apologies to those who may have felt "uncomfortable."

He eventually came in last of the three presidential challengers.

Presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian, gives a speech at the nomination centre in Singapore August 22, 2023. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Caroline Chia)
Presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian, gives a speech at the nomination centre in Singapore August 22, 2023. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Caroline Chia)

5. Ng Kok Song

Former GIC chief investment officer Ng Kok Song's bid for the Singapore presidency led to a three-way race between him, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, and Tan Kin Lian.

Tharman, the former senior minister, won the contested election on 2 September with 70.40 per cent of the votes. Ng secured 15.72 per cent in his first bid, while Tan got 13.88 per cent.

Ng, 75, first announced his candidacy on his website and showed up at the Elections Department to collect forms in July.

He is also recognised as a devout Catholic who taught Christian meditation to Singapore's founding PM Lee Kuan Yew. In a 2010 interview with the New York Times, Lee mentioned that he began meditating around two to three years earlier after observing Ng's serenity.

Ng also drew attention for his relationship with his fiancée, 45-year-old Sybil Lau, who was a prominent figure during his campaign period.

Presidential candidate Ng Kok Song, waves after his speech at the nomination centre in Singapore August 22, 2023. REUTERS/Caroline Chia
Presidential candidate Ng Kok Song, waves after his speech at the nomination centre in Singapore August 22, 2023. (Photo: REUTERS/Caroline Chia)

4. Abby Choi

In 2023, the world was stunned by the gruesome death of Hong Kong socialite Abby Choi, whose headless body was discovered in a house in a suburb.

The 28-year-old model had been reported missing on 21 February, and her remains were found a few days later in a village house in Tai Po, Hong Kong.

Parts of her dismembered body had been cooked, with some stored in the refrigerator, as detailed by media reports. Further gruesome details emerged as local authorities found human tissue in pots of soup and scattered minced human tissue within the house.

Following this incident, six suspects linked to the murder appeared in court, reportedly charged in connection with Abby Choi's brutal killing.

It was revealed that Choi was allegedly murdered and dismembered at a village house, supposedly over a property dispute involving her ex-husband's family.

3. Cheng Li Hui

Former Tampines Group Representative Constituency (GRC) Member of Parliament (MP), Cheng Li Hui, grabbed headlines when she resigned in July due to an affair with the former Speaker of Parliament, Tan Chuan-Jin.

Cheng, unmarried, immediately stepped down from the People's Action Party (PAP) and relinquished her position as an MP for Tampines GRC.

The 47-year-old began volunteering in Tampines East in early 2015 and later contested in the general election for the PAP's Tampines GRC team that same year.

Cheng succeeded former minister Mah Bow Tan. Her resignation on 17 July left Tampines GRC with the remaining MPs: Masagos Zulkifli, Dr Koh Poh Koon, Desmond Choo, and Baey Yam Keng.

Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin and Member of Parliament Cheng Li Hui resign from Parliament and the People's Action Party (PAP). Their resignations were announced by the Prime Minister's Office on Monday (17 July) (PHOTO: Getty Images/PAP website)
Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin and Member of Parliament Cheng Li Hui resign from Parliament and the People's Action Party (PAP). Their resignations were announced by the Prime Minister's Office on Monday (17 July) (PHOTO: Getty Images/PAP website)

2. Coco Lee

The death of Chinese American singer Coco Lee, celebrated for her rendition of the Mulan theme song Reflection and known for being the first Chinese American to perform at the Oscars, at the age of 48, shook the entertainment world.

In a statement on Weibo, her sisters revealed that Coco had been grappling with depression for an extended period. Her condition worsened recently, leading to a suicide attempt at home on 2 July.

Despite efforts by medical professionals to save her after she was found in a coma and rushed to the hospital, Coco died on 5 July.

The news of Coco Lee's passing prompted an outpouring of tributes from across the globe.

Notable figures from Hong Kong, mainland China, and Taiwan, including Andy Lau, Jackie Chan, Ang Lee, Jolin Tsai, GEM Tang, and Hacken Lee, shared heartfelt memories and recorded videos to mourn the loss of the Hong Kong star.

Carol and Nancy, sisters of Hong Kong-born, American singer and songwriter Coco Lee, carry a portrait of Coco after the funeral, in Hong Kong, China, August 1, 2023. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)
Carol and Nancy, sisters of Hong Kong-born, American singer and songwriter Coco Lee, carry a portrait of Coco after the funeral, in Hong Kong, China, August 1, 2023. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

1. Lee Hsien Loong

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had a significant 2023, making headlines for several events such as the National Day Rally and his recovery from a second COVID-19 infection in June.

Another major focus was PM Lee's handling of the situation involving former Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin's 'inappropriate relationship' with former People's Action Party Member of Parliament Cheng Li Hui.

During a press conference in July, PM Lee discussed this relationship with Tan. Their last conversation was in February of this year when Tan acknowledged his mistake and offered his resignation.

PM Lee accepted the resignation but emphasised the need to ensure the well-being of residents in Kembangan-Chai Chee and Marine Parade, where Tan had previously served as a Member of Parliament within that GRC.

He also stressed the importance of Tan ending his relationship with Cheng. However, PM Lee later learned that Tan and Cheng's relationship was ongoing. Lee decided that Tan needed to depart immediately, disregarding the readiness of alternative arrangements.

Beyond political scandals, another significant event for Lee was when he announced his intention to step down before the ruling People's Action Party's 70th anniversary in November next year.

Lee said he intended for Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong to lead the party in the upcoming general election, which must be held by November 2025.

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong attends the retreat session of the 43rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, September 5, 2023. Mast Irham/Pool via REUTERS
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong attends the retreat session of the 43rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, September 5, 2023. (PHOTO: Mast Irham/Pool via REUTERS)

Do you have a story tip? Email: sgnews.tips@yahooinc.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. Also check out our Southeast Asia, Food, and Gaming channels on YouTube.

Yahoo Singapore Telegram
Yahoo Singapore Telegram