Top newsmakers of 2014

The personalities and events that made the headlines in Singapore this year.

Top newsmakers of 2014
Top newsmakers of 2014
11 Mar 2015

Top newsmakers of 2014

The personalities and events that made the headlines in Singapore this year.

As 2014 draws to a close, we look back at the personalities, and events that dominated the headlines in Singapore and set social media into overdrive.

Top newsmakers of 2014
Top newsmakers of 2014
11 Mar 2015

Top newsmakers of 2014

Anton Casey

Let’s begin with three individuals who were on the receiving end of abuse and harassment by online vigilantes.

In January, Briton Anton Casey, who posted disparaging remarks about public transport commuters, was forced to flee Singapore after receiving death threats and losing his job as a wealth fund manager.

The Porsche-driving 39-year-old sparked furore after his offensive Facebook posts mocking a “retard” taxi driver and “poor people” who ride the MRT went viral. Despite issuing an apology through public relations firm Fulford PR Consultancy, saying that his family had suffered "extreme emotional and verbal abuse online", it was too little too late.

Casey, who had spent 12 years in Singapore, and his employer Crossinvest Asia "parted ways" and he left for Perth with his wife, former Miss Singapore Universe Bernice Wong, and five-year-old son

Top newsmakers of 2014
Top newsmakers of 2014
11 Mar 2015

Top newsmakers of 2014

Quek Zhen Hao aka Honda Civic road bully

Undergrad Quek Zhen Hao probably thought nothing of his actions when he terrorised two drivers on separate occasions in January this year. But they came back to haunt him when videos of his reckless acts were widely circulated online.

The 25-year-old was first caught on camera on January 28 chasing after a driver and overtaking and braking dangerously several times after a minor misunderstanding at a carpark. And hours later, he was filmed tailgating and taunting another driver.

After the clips went viral, netizens hurled attacks at Quek, calling him an “Ah Beng” and “public enemy”, and even likened his looks to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Personal information about him, his family and girlfriend were also splashed online.

Quek, who later posted a YouTube video telling his version of events, apologised for his behaviour and pleaded for netizens to stop as his family and girlfriend had been harassed. He also claimed to have received death threats. 

He has since been fined S$5,400 and disqualified from holding a driving licence for two years.

Top newsmakers of 2014
Top newsmakers of 2014
11 Mar 2015

Top newsmakers of 2014

Jover Chew

Errant Mobile Air retailer Jover Chew is no stranger to complaints, going by the number that have been filed against his Sim Lim Square shop with the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE). But little did he expect them to turn his life upside down.

In November, Chew and his store made headlines for issuing a refund of S$1,010 in 18kg of coins; and forcing a Vietnamese tourist to pay S$1,500 for an in-house warranty. A video, which showed the tourist crying and begging on his knees for a refund, went viral online. 

Following that, his shop was raided by police and Chew’s personal particulars as well as private photos, some featuring him posing shirtless, hit the Internet.

After going into hiding for three weeks, the 32-year-old re-appeared end November to pack and move out of his Sim Lim Square unit. Speaking to reporters, Chew said he could never set up shop again as netizens were out to get him: “Whoever who takes over my unit will have his personal particulars exposed!”

Top newsmakers of 2014
Top newsmakers of 2014
11 Mar 2015

Top newsmakers of 2014

Sheng Siong kidnap

When Lim Hock Chee, chief executive of Sheng Siong supermarket, first received a call about his mother’s kidnap and a S$20 million ransom - the largest ever recorded in Singapore - on January 8, he thought it was a prank. But the threats kept coming, and after much consideration, he decided to call the police.

Lim’s mother, 79-year-old Ng Lye Poh, was abducted along Hougang Ave 8 as she was returning home from the market. A man told Mdm Ng that Lim had suffered a bad fall and asked her to follow him into his car.

The two suspects - 50-year-old Heng Chen Boon, a credit card salesman, and 41-year-old Lee Sze Yong, an odd-job worker, allegedly blindfolded and bound her for hours.

With the help of the police, the ransom was negotiated to S$2 million and Lim dropped off the money at a tree at Sembawang Park in the early hours of Jan 9. Mdm Ng was released 20 minutes later and the kidnappers were nabbed separately within 12 hours after the kidnap was reported.

If found guilty, they face the death penalty or life imprisonment.


Photo: TODAY

Top newsmakers of 2014
Top newsmakers of 2014
11 Mar 2015

Top newsmakers of 2014

 “Andy” from NCPG’s World Cup ad

Who would have guessed the National Council for Problem Gambling’s (NCPG) World Cup ad and its poster boy Andy, would put Singapore on the world map.

The ad, which featured a crestfallen Andy saying he hoped that Germany would win the World Cup because his father bet all his savings on the team, became the subject of jokes and hilarious memes after Germany thrashed hosts Brazil 7-1 in the semi-final (pictured top). It even earned worldwide coverage in the international media including The Wall Street Journal, BuzzFeed, and a spoof on The Tonight Show.

Despite the initial ridicule, NCPG made a good save when it ran a cleverly updated version of the ad after the Germans lifted the trophy (pictured bottom).


Photo (top): Reuters

Top newsmakers of 2014
Top newsmakers of 2014
11 Mar 2015

Top newsmakers of 2014

But it doesn’t end there. A couple of months later, Andy was spotted living it up in an ad for an executive condominium development (cue another round of jokes). Bought with his dad’s World Cup winnings, perhaps?

Top newsmakers of 2014
Top newsmakers of 2014
11 Mar 2015

Top newsmakers of 2014

Roy Ngerng

2014 sure has been a rocky year for blogger Roy Ngerng.

His troubles began in May when he found himself embroiled in a defamation suit with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after he accused the latter of misappropriating Singaporeans’ CPF savings in a blog post (Ngerng was later found guilty).

Barely a month later, the NMP (Nominated Member of Parliament) applicant, was sacked from his contract patient co-ordinator job at Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s Communicable Disease Centre, a move he claims was “politically motivated”.

His legal troubles continued when he and blogger Han Hui Hui were charged for disrupting a YMCA charity event at Hong Lim Park in September. During their Return Our CPF rally, the pair led several hundred people in a march around the park and encroached the area where YMCA’s carnival was held and frightened some special needs performers that were taking the stage.

Ngerng and Han were charged with allegedly staging a demonstration without approval and causing public nuisance. If convicted, they could be fined up to S$5,000 for the first charge and S$1,000 for the second charge.

Top newsmakers of 2014
Top newsmakers of 2014
11 Mar 2015

Top newsmakers of 2014

Singapore Sports Hub

It is a S$1.3 billion sports facility boasting world class facilities, however the Singapore Sports Hub has been in the news for all the wrong reasons since its opening in June.

Footballers and coaches, both local and international, have lashed out at the state of the National Stadium pitch, describing it as “sandy”, “horrible”, and "far short of the expected international playing standards".

To bring the DessoGrassMaster pitch, which is a blend of natural grass and artificial fibres that was supposed to be durable to withstand the rigours of intense activity, to acceptable standards, special lighting equipment was brought in to stimulate the growth of rye and blue grass seeds. Matches and events were also cancelled or rescheduled to enhance pitch recovery.

Meanwhile, Sports Hub is studying several options and will decide if it will continue using DessoGreassMaster or switch to another system in the coming weeks. But with the recent resignation of its senior director, Greg Gillin, who was tasked to oversee the pitch installation, it seems like Sports Hub’s troubles are far from over.

Photo: Channelnewsasia.com

Top newsmakers of 2014
Top newsmakers of 2014
11 Mar 2015

Top newsmakers of 2014

Joseph Schooling

He’s the golden boy of Singapore swimming with his gold medal win in the 100m butterfly at the 2014 Asian Games, the first for a male swimmer in 32 years. However, Joseph Schooling’s medal haul (he also clinched a silver in the 50m fly and a bronze in the 200m fly) was overshadowed, albeit slightly, by his alcohol brouhaha.

The 19-year-old, along with swimmers Teo Zhen Ren and Roanne Ho, had left the Athletes’ Village without seeking permission and reportedly returned drunk after their night out.

Though Schooling’s mother insists that the trio were not intoxicated, the swimmers were found to have "infringed the Code of Conduct for Athletes and Officials at Major Games" and were issued a warning from the Singapore National Olympic Council.

Photo: AFP

Top newsmakers of 2014
Top newsmakers of 2014
11 Mar 2015

Top newsmakers of 2014

Zouk

Though talk of iconic club Zouk’s imminent move from its premises at 17 Jiak Kim Street has been in the news for years, no one saw a possible closure coming.

When Zouk founder Lincoln Cheng announced in June the decision to shut the venue for good if it is not granted a three-year lease extension (the nightspot sits on prime land and has already had its lease extended thrice), media and fans of the 23-year-old dance club sat up and took notice.

Though it was a long shot, the “Save Zouk” online campaign was launched and fans from local celebrities to international DJs took to social media to wax lyrical about the club. Two months later, Zouk received the miracle that it needed – an extension on its lease, albeit only for a year. But if the club is able to secure a new location by June 30, 2015, it will be extended further till end 2017 to facilitate its move.

Right now, we can only keep our fingers crossed that Cheng will be able to secure a new home for Zouk, otherwise, it would be ‘ZoukOut’ for good next year.

Top newsmakers of 2014
Top newsmakers of 2014
11 Mar 2015

Top newsmakers of 2014

Yang Yin

For the past five years, former China tour guide Yang Yin had been living it up in Singapore, splurging on branded goods and lavish hotel stays. But all that came to end in September when Hedy Mok, niece of 87-year-old widow Chung Khin Chun, sued the 40-year-old for manipulating her aunt into handing over control of her assets, believed to be worth around S$40 million.

Yang, who was appointed sole executor and beneficiary of Chung’s estate in 2010, claimed the widow wanted him as a “grandson” and was even granted a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) over her assets.

The LPA has since been revoked but the saga is far from over as Mok seeks full legal rights to make decisions on behalf of her aunt, who has been diagnosed with dementia.

As for Yang, he was arrested for suspected criminal breach of trust and has been slapped with 334 charges for allegedly falsifying receipts relating to his music and dance company as well as for immigration offences. If convicted, he could face jail time of 10 years and a fine.

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