Singapore’s biggest unintentional stars of 2017

The people and things that made unexpected headlines this year

Chuando Tan
Chuando Tan
26 Dec 2017

Chuando Tan

Move aside Zheng Geping, Chuando Tan’s the new hunkle on the block. Blessed with youthful looks (can you believe he’s 51!) and a ripped bod, the Singapore photographer went viral after a Chinese news website discovered his hunky and shirtless pics on Instagram. Those of you who remember the former ‘90s model will agree that he keeps getting hotter with age. So what’s his secret? A healthy diet and plenty of exercise. 

Photos: Instagram/@chuando_chuandoandfrey

NDP middle finger boy
NDP middle finger boy
26 Dec 2017

NDP middle finger boy

It was Singapore’s 52nd birthday celebration but the star of the National Day Parade (NDP) was not the Red Lions, fireworks or even local swimmer Joseph Schooling. Stealing the limelight was, instead, this student from Henry Park Primary School, who flashed his middle finger at the camera during the live broadcast of the parade, sparking gasps of horror and admiration.

Naturally his legendary actions did not sit well with the principal and a photo of the boy facing the music made the rounds on the Internet. According to the principal, the student is “deeply apologetic” and has been counselled by the school.

Pandan cake
Pandan cake
26 Dec 2017

Pandan cake

A childhood favourite of Singaporeans, the humble pandan cake made headlines this year after it was crowned one of the world’s best cakes by CNN Travel, alongside Italy’s tiramisu and Hong Kong’s ma lai gou. While some questioned whether the fluffy “green cake” deserves the title of Singapore’s national cake, there’s no denying its popularity among locals and tourists alike (have you seen the lines at Bengawan Solo outlets at Changi Airport?). And if all this talk has got you craving cake, here are some of the best ones to try.

SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek
SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek
26 Dec 2017

SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek

From countless train faults and breakdowns to a flooded tunnel and collision, this sure has been a trouble-filled year for rail operator SMRT and its CEO Desmond Kuek. Following a string of disruptions, calls for Kuek to quit grew louder and his problems were further compounded when Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan called him out in Parliament - that glum face says it all. Bet he wished he hadn’t “volunteered” for the job.

 

Soh Rui Yong
Soh Rui Yong
26 Dec 2017

Soh Rui Yong

Singapore marathoner Soh Rui Yong may have clinched gold in the men’s marathon at the SEA Games but what grabbed the most attention was his act of sportsmanship, which would have largely gone unnoticed if not for “The Water Bottle Story” published on an Indonesian website. Indonesian runner Agus Paryogo praised Rui Yong for offering the remainder of his drink when the latter noticed he had missed his hydration point.

In a similar act of kindness, the 26-year-old, the top Singaporean male finisher at the Standard Chartered Marathon, gave $500 from his $10,000 prize money to Kenyan marathoner Elisha Sawe, who accompanied him during the race.

Photo: TODAY

Chow Chuin Yee and Tay Puay Leng aka Toa Payoh couple
Chow Chuin Yee and Tay Puay Leng aka Toa Payoh couple
26 Dec 2017

Chow Chuin Yee and Tay Puay Leng aka Toa Payoh couple

Chow Chuin Yee and Tay Puay Leng became public enemy no. 1 after a video of them shoving and verbally abusing an elderly man over a seat at a hawker centre in Toa Payoh was widely circulated on the Internet. The clip sparked an online witch hunt and the couple were arrested and fined. Apologising for their outburst, Puay Leng said she had “snapped” as she was going through a tough time and that she and her husband have been “living like fugitives” since the incident. Unfortunately her tearful apology did not cut it with the public and even spawned a parody video. 

Photo: TODAY

This rogue monkey
This rogue monkey
26 Dec 2017

This rogue monkey

In September, this monkey landed on the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority’s (AVA) most wanted list for terrorising residents at Punggol's Waterway Sunbeam estate. There were reports of the aggressive macaque snatching food from passers-by, scratching a boy, and even taking a dip in a condo swimming pool. After playing hide-and-seek with the AVA, it was finally captured unharmed. 

Photos: Joseph Tan

Aloysius Pang
Aloysius Pang
26 Dec 2017

Aloysius Pang

A familiar face on Channel 8, local actor Aloysius Pang was in the news for the wrong reasons after he was caught drink driving in May. The 26-year-old was arrested in his car near a gas station close to Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim and was later fined and banned from driving for 18 months. Despite the episode, the bad press seemed to do little to hurt his career and instead generated more publicity for his drama My Friends From Afar. You can catch Aloysius as a naïve alien in My Friends From Afar on Toggle.

Photo: Instagram/@aloypang

Gary Lim
Gary Lim
26 Dec 2017

Gary Lim

Gary Lim sparked outrage after he was caught on video mocking a taxi driver. In his drunken stupor, Gary told the latter he “could not accomplish great things” and also flaunted his wealth by counting a stack of $1,000 bills in his face. After netizens identified him as the boss of Yeo Keng Nam Traditional Hainanese Chicken Rice, his eateries were inundated with prank calls and bad reviews online. Though Gary later apologised and even offered free chicken rice to taxi drivers, response was only lukewarm.

Leong Wai Kit
Leong Wai Kit
26 Dec 2017

Leong Wai Kit

While Leong Wai Kit is obviously a talented reporter, his big claim to fame really didn't happen until he fronted a recruitment video for Channel NewsAsia earlier this year. His drive and passion for his job enchanted netizens and considerable media attention followed. The 38-year-old took the attention in good humour and is glad he can be an inspiration to others.

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