AS part of the traditional countdown of the begining of 2008, I'm going to list the 15 news topics that make headlines (Local + Overseas) in 2007.
#15 Paris Hilton goes into jail, then out and then eventually goes back again.
The only reason why this piece of celebrity gossip tabloid can actually make it to the top 15 is because of the name, Paris Hilton. Her news has been followed by many on internet and television from the day she kenna sentence to jail due to driving on suspended licence, then converted to home confinement for health reasons and then back to jail with tears.
Paris defining moment: "It's not right! Mom!"
Check out the list of foods at slashfood being suggested for her on the first day of her release.
#14 It doesn't pay to be kind in Afghanistan.
Doing aid-mission in dangerous places like Afghanistan doesn't pay. It might even costs you your life. In July, a South Korean Christian Group left for Afghanistan aid mission after failing to heed their government warnings against travel to the country. They were ended up held at gunpoint by dozens of Taliban fighters at the wartorn Kandahar. For weeks, the Talibans has negotiate items from ransons to withdrawal of Korean troops from Afghanistan. Two were killed in the whole saga but eventually, the rest of the 23 return safely to South Korea.
#13 Launch of Airbus 380 marks milestones for Singapore Airlines
After delaying by about 2 years and the tugwar between pilot union and SIA on dispute regarding wages for flying new plane, AirBus finally makes its debut. It stirred excitments among Singaporean (don't know why?) and its maiden flight tickets were put up for Ebay auction. Proceeds from the sales goes to charity. The most talk about is the SIA's upfront clarification of the "no-sex-on-the-beds" policy on A380.
SIA Spokesmen: "If couples used our double beds to engage in inappropriate activity, we would politely ask them to desist,” (errmm excuse me, how about the toilet in the plane, huh?)
#12 The Dragon Boat Tragedy
This sparkled grave concern with regards to safety of our atheletics competing in overseas. An inquiry panel has been set up to investigate the incident and to prevent similar tragedy from happening again.
Ashes of the five dragon boat paddlers has been placed side by side Mandai Columbarium.
Defining moment: The picture itself.
#11 Flight of the UNSW
The sudden announcement of pullout in May, by The University of New South Wales has left many in shock especially for the newly enrolled students. Many students, had to make hurried plans to take up the university's scholarship offer to study in Sydney. Others felt pressured to making last-minute bids to join one of the three local universities.
The reason given by its new vice-chancellor, Professor Fred Hilmer, is the lack of enrollment numbers. Many started asking whether UNSW had actually given much serious planning and considerations on the investment in Singapore.
On the other hand, the public was also concerned about the grant $32 million in grants and loans, given to UNSW by the Economic Development Board (EDB). Some began to doubt the whether EDB is capable of making sound decision, especially where the taxpayer's money is concerned. Anyway, as of today, the school has agreed to repay Singapore over $32 million in backed loans and grants. (phew...)
#10 Dave Teo and his rifle
Another Singaporean make it to the Wikipedia, but for all the wrong reasons. The whole sage begins, when the then-National-Servicemen, Corporal Dave Teo was having relationship problem with his girlfriend. While on guard duty, he left his camp without approval, along with his SAR-21. And there goes the frantic search for him and his buddy and he was eventually arrested in a shopping centre. Then, many were asking how was he able to leave the camp with a weapon so easily and why the public was not informed at all until the arrest. This somehow related us to Virginia Tech's mass shooting tragedy not long ago. We were very lucky, indeed.
#9 The great 377A debate. Repel or not to repel.
Singaporeans were divided on the gay legal issue. Online appeal was launched on Repeal377a.com to gather signatures for an open letter to Prime Minister calling for the repel of Section 377a. In response, a counter-petition on the website Keep377a.com was set up. The outcome? Majority of the Singaporeans and their government chosen to stay conservative still, as of today.
#8 Rise of the Great Inflation. Everything goes up and up.
Everywhere we go, we hear complaints about price increase. The main culprit are the rising cost of food & fuel. Food prices soared to historic high due to increasing demand for biofuel (corn ethanol). With supply falling short, the prices of corns drove up and so are the related food items, such as cattles that feeds on corns. According to the United Nationas' Food and Agruculture Organisation, its food price index jumped almost 40% over the last y ear.
Demand for fuels drove up not only prices for food but also transporation, energy, etc. Oil prices has been hovering around the US$100 per barrel price level. (fyi .. it was only US$50 per barrel in Jan'07)
Inflation is looking set to threaten the overall global economy in year 2008.
#7 The final Harry Potter book
The launch of the last book by J.K. Rowling marks the final episode for Harry Potter's series. Launch event were organised by various bookstores wordwide for the wizard fans. The result? Deathly Hallows sold a record 8.3 million copies in its first 24 hours in the U.S.
The talking point was also on the leak of the content by the publication despite spending a reported $20 million. Even 4 days before the official launch, People can download the content from a Bittorrent file-sharing site the Pirate Bay.
Defining moment: The smile on the face of the fans after getting hold of the book.
#6 Juicy Apple iPhone gets geeks go crazy.
The gadget of the year must definately goes to Apple Iphone, or many called it, Jesus phone. On its launch day, June 29, 200,000 units had been snapped up by the enthusiastic customers. However, it did upset the fans/early adopters by slashing from $599 to $399 barely two months after its launch.
Deals between AT&T and Apple allows Apple to have a cut in its subscription revenue gained from Iphone. Its SIM-lock function doesn't allow any other sim card to be used on the phone itself. This approach, however has sparked much legal fracas in other launch markets. Authorities in France have recently forced Orange to unlock the iphone while German operator Vodafone tried unsuccessfully to get local courts to do the same.
Apple Iphone is expected to be launched in Asia, early 2008.
#5 US Subprime crisis sweeping the world.
The word "subprime" has strike fears in many worldwide investors and US house owners in 2007. Financial institutions such as Bear Sterms, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, UBS, etc, were forced to write down as much as US$50 billion in losses and estimate another US$200 billion to come. CEOs of some of these major banks eventually lost their jobs. Banks worldwide that had money in mortgage-backed securities realized many of their investments were worthless, and the major stock market indexes saw their values drop, prompting central banks in the U.S. and Europe to inject extra cash into their financial systems.
The crisis has also prompted various world's sovereign wealth funds to stake their interest on the badly-bruised institutions. Abu Dhabi Investment Company - US$7.5 billion in Citigroup. China Investment Corp - US$8 billion in Morgan Stanley and Blackstone Group. Government of SIngapore Investment Corporation - S$14 bilion in UBS and Temasek Holdings - US$5billion in Merril Lynch.
#4 The beginning of dark times ahead for Pakistan.
Luck and fortune is definately not on the side of Pakistan this year. In year 2007, Pakistan saw increasing influences from the Islamic Extremists and the Talibans, the Islamabad's Red Mosque violent incident, Musharraf sacked the independent judiciary, emergency rule imposed, returned democracy to its people after Musharraf declared election and stepping down as military chief, Bhutto Benazir return from exile, only to face an failed assassination attempt, house arrestt and finally the successful 2nd assassination of Benazir that shocked the world and plunging the nation into darkness.
#3 Myanmar's Saffron Revolution.
Myanmar Junta's crackdown on the monk has drawn criticisms over the world. It all started with the government decision on price hike on fuel that sparkled the largest street protest by the red -clad monks across the country. Unable to tolerate such dissent act, military government resort violence to put all these to an end. According to the Junta, 15 were dead (not forgetting the Japanese reporter, Kenji Nagai, who was shot dead 'accidentally' during the crackdown.) and 3,000 were jailed.
In the end, democracy is still a luxury for Myanmar. It hardly made any progress despite, UN negotiation and ASEAN's intervention.
#2 Minister's Pay Rise
Where money issue is concern, Singapore government and its people can never see eye to eye. Early this year, Singapore government approved the increase of wages of the top civil servant as much as 60%, in an effort to match the private sector pay package and keeping talents to serve their country. This move upsets Singaporean a bit. Fierce discussion in parliament, in internet forum, on newspaper can be seen everyday. While Singaporean understood the whole rationale of the pay hike, but many question the real motivation of a civil servant: For money or to serve the country? To answer your question, Prime Minister Lee would be donating his salary over the past 5 years.
Defining moment when Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, said: "Your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people's countries," (Oh man .. this is classic)
#1 Talk of Climate Change
Taking the number 1 top story on the world's media in 2007, would be the global warming issue. Climate change is a grave global concern to all except George W. Bush. It came along with news like the abonormal weather such as floods in Britain, Mexico, India and Banglades, droughts in China and Australia, heat waves in Europe and also persimistic report of the perish of icecaps in both South & North Poles by 2040, hastening the extinction of Polar Bear.
Not to forget also the series of Live Earth Concert around the world, with the objective to raise awareness and Al Gore's receiving Nobel Peace Prize for his effort and his film - An incovenient Truth.
Governments from countries are also beginning to pump in huge funds for "go green" researches and cooperation among countries to share technological knowledge and breakthrough in this area. Meeting was also held in Bali this month to negotiate a common agreement for a curb green house gas emission.
And last but not least, the waves of complaints and grumbling from the "aunties" when they were told to buy or bring their own bags to supermarkets, on the first wednesday of every month (aka bring your own bag day). Haha... maybe, raising awareness through concert and newspaper is really not enough still.
AND SO THATS ALL for the year. Lets hope that for the coming year of 2008, we would see more good news heading the headlines rather than bad news.