2013 had been a year of shocks for Singapore.
There was so much drama that it was difficult for me to keep track of all of them, but after flipping through my history notes, here is my list of the most memorable moments in Singapore of 2013.
(Each post is accompanied by some SGAG photos! For those who do not know them, they area community of people that generate pokes fun at everyday happening while being faster than the news, funnier than the noose and the source of a daily dose of laugh to keep the doctor away!)
A Year of Shocks
Amidst the extreme weather conditions, Singapore saw a significant rise in the number of dengue fever.
Much to the trend of 2013, this year's mosquito epidemic far surpassed the previous record year of dengue fever cases, which was set in 2005 at 14,209 infections.
As of December 18, the number of cases was tabulated at 21,594 cases or about 151% of the previous record.
From 13 June to 24 June, Singaporeans suffered the worst haze period since the haze of 1997, in which the highest PSI recorded was 226.
This record was shattered on 19 June, 10pm, when the 3-hour PSI reading was 321. This was also the first time in Singapore history in which the PSI reading has breached the hazardous level.
On 21 June, 12pm, the 3-hour PSI reading reached a new record of 401 and it currently remains as the all-time record.
Finally on 24 June, the 3-hour PSI reading was in the "good range", the first since 13 June. However, the quality of air only stabilised within the "good range" in July.
On June 24, the government officially launched a year-long trial offering free and discounted train rides to those travelling to the 16 designated city area stations before 7.45am and between 7:45am to 8:00am respectively.
The 16 stations involved in the trial are: Bugis, Chinatown, City Hall, Clarke Quay, Dhoby Ghaut, Lavender, Orchard, Outram Park, Raffles Place, Somerset, Tanjong Pagar, Bayfront, Esplanade, Marina Bay and Promenade.
As the haze came to pass, Singaporeans were met with another surprise. On June 25, residents living in the western towns of Jurong East, Bukit Batok and Choa Chu Kang experienced a rare hailstorm.
This was the first time in 4 years in which there was a hailstorm in Singapore, the last being on 12 September 2009.
While the hailstorm brought about some property damage, uprooted trees and traffic jams, it also brought about one of the funniest news interview in recent memory.
On the same day as the hailstorm, the Monetary Authority of Singapore launched The Singapore Third Series coins.
The previous Second Series coins had been in circulation for more than 25 years, with the new coins bringing about new security features and a reduction in costs (35% - 40%) for producing these coins.
You can learn more about how different and better the new coins are over at the MDA Third Series Coins Microsite.
On September 30, MediaCorp pulled the plug off the age old analogue information service that had served a generation of Singaporeans since its launch in 1983.
Citing "declining usage" and better alternatives to information, MediaCorp decided to discontinue teletext in order to channel resources to better serve its audience.
Since October, a member of the hacktivist organisation Anonymous going known as "The Messiah" had hacked a number of government/government-related websites in response the new set of web censorship regulations thought up by the Media Development Authority.
Many had criticised the regulations as restricting freedom of speech and a step backwards for the nation.
The government insists that these regulations "do not impinge on internet freedom", rather to ensure that politics and matters relating to Singapore and her interests are a matter of Singaporeans alone.
The Messiah hacked a total of sites including the People's Action Party's Community Foundation's webpage, the Ang Mo Kio Town Council official website, the blog of The Straits Times news reporter Irene Tham, the Seletar Airport website, the Twitter and YouTube account of Singaporean entertainer Ridhwan Azman, a subpage on the website of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the webpage of the Istana and the websites of 13 schools.
On 8 December, Singapore witness the second riot in her post-independent history and the first in over 40 years since the 1969 race riots.
The riot occurred at Little India and was triggered after a fatal accident involving a private bus running over an Indian-national.
The police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) were first notified of the incident at 21:23pm. The riot lasted from then till 23:45pm, at which the 400-strong mob dispersed.
The riot left 25 emergency vehicles damaged, alongside 5 that were set on fire. 39 police and 4 civil defence and auxiliary officers injured.
Queue Generators of 2013
Queuing has always been a Singapore culture. But some queues are more memorable than others, and here are some of the highlights of the Queue generators of 2013.
On March 8, IKEA sold their famous Swedish meatballs at 10 cents apiece at both of their stores (Tampines and Queensway).
The one-day promotion aimed to win back customers after the company stopped sales of the meatballs in February as a precautionary measure after 20 IKEA stores in Europe recalled their meatballs after Czech authorities found traces of horse meat in one batch of frozen beef and pork meatballs.
A local independent lab later confirmed that the meatballs sold at the IKEA Singapore branches did not contain horse meat.
A precautionary measure turned successful PR campaign, the morning of that fateful day saw double the usual breakfast crowd, with the store having prepared 250kg of meatballs to meet expected demand, which is triple the usual supply.
On 18 March, a day declared as National Breakfast Day by McDonald's, 121,000 free Egg McMuffins were given away to those who were willing to wake up early on that Monday morning.
At 5am on the dot, queues of Singaporean got their well-deserved free breakfast. By 11am, all McMuffins in Singapore were fully redeemed across 115 stores around the island, officially ending National Breakfast Day and resulting in possibly the highest national level of arriving to work late in a single day.
June was a crazy month for Singapore, but be it haze or lack of sleep, queues are nothing to Singaporeans, especially in the case of the McDonald's Hello Kitty craze.
The demand for these seemingly simple mini toys was so dramatic that even the police were called in to control the queues, with several rules and regulations being issued after the demand craze got out of hand, resulting in a few videos and pictures to humorously document it.
On 7 July, Singapore welcomed Gordon Ramsay after challenging him to a cook-off touted as the SingTel's Hawker Heroes Challenge.
Facing him were Foo Kui Lian from Tian Tian Chicken Rice, Ryan Koh from 328 Katong Laksa and Ang Kiam Meng from the Jumbo Seafood restuarant chain.
Nearly 5,000 people queued up as early as 1am despite that the event only started at 6:30pm and only the first 1,000 people were allowed inside the venue at Newton Food Centre.
Of those who persevered, they got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the Hell's Kitchen star in the flesh and judge his cooking with some of Singapore's favourite dishes done great.
The result saw the Singapore hawkers winning 2-1, with Gordon Ramsay winning the majority votes for the Chilli Crab dish.
And that's about it for the year of 2013. If you had made it this far, then congratulations on reliving some of the most shocking moments of 2013. I hope that you have enjoyed scrolling down this memory lane as much as I had enjoyed making it!
Here's wishing you a wonderful holiday break and a great start to 2014! HAPPY NEW YEAR! :)