Media Releases

2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000

Singapore Chinese Girls’ School pupil is national champion speller

Singapore, April 26, 2014 - Singapore's champion speller is Nicole Lim Hsing Yi, 10, a Primary 5 pupil of Singapore Chinese Girls’ School, who beat 24 others in a nail-biting showdown in the grand final of the third RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship earlier today.

She spelled her way to the top spot at the Tay Eng Soon Convention Centre Auditorium, Institute of Technical Education College Central,
 after spelling correctly the word "glockenspiel” in the championship round, knocking out her opponent, Thomas Egan Ang Yiren, 11, from St. Joseph’s Institution (Junior), who was named the first runner-up. In third place was Kua Le Yi, 11, Catholic High School.

Nicole is the first girl to be champion in the competition’s three-year run. She also broke the winning streak of Anglo-Chinese School (Primary), whose pupils had won The Big Spell in the previous two years. 

At the decisive round lasting more than two hours this morning, the 25 finalists, who had earlier battled through two exciting rounds - the preliminary on March 1 and the zonals on April 5 - slugged it out on stage, facing a judging panel from the Ministry of Education’s English Language Institute of Singapore, The Straits Times, and the Speak Good English Movement. 

The auditorium was packed with fellow student supporters, teachers, principals and parents and, for the first time, readers of The Straits Times.

Each finalist took turns to spell aloud the words read out by the pronouncer, thespian Nora Samosir. When a pupil misspelled a single letter, he was out of the quest. As the rounds progressed with increasing difficulty, they were eliminated one by one, some tripping on words such as 
"curmudgeon" and "anthracite". 

One of the pupils gave a punch in the air when he spelled a word correctly, while another appealed to the judging panel to “please give me something I know” as he stepped up to spell, earning a chuckle from the audience. 

Nicole was declared champion when she managed to spell the word “glockenspiel” which her opponent Thomas had tripped on. 

For her hard-fought victory, 
Nicole took home $5,000 and the Challenge Trophy for her school, while the other two top spellers won $3,000 and $1,000 respectively. The top winners in the four zonal rounds each received $500 cash and $100 worth of book vouchers at the prize presentation today. All finalists each received a medal.

Guest-of-honour Madam Halimah Yacob, Speaker of Parliament, commended the contestants at the start of the finals. 

She said: “All of you are already champions for having come this far. For your great attitude to learning, I salute you."

“As a mind sport, spelling is universal and a great leveller. It does not matter what kind of home you live in or how much pocket money you get. You do well because of the effort you have put in and the values that you show -- determination, sportsmanship, resilience and grit,” she added.

In her opening address, deputy editor of The Straits Times, Ms Zuraidah Ibrahim, said: “The mind sport of spelling is so much more than the pursuit of precision, which is why it has the ability to ignite passion. In just three editions, the RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship has grown in prestige and participation."

“The Straits Times is invested in clear language. We want to inform, entertain but educate, we want our readers to take part in discussion, analysis and critical thinking, to shape Singapore and the world. In order to do that, it is essential to get the basics right.”

Group Managing Director, RHB Banking Group, Mr Kellee Kam, who flew in from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to catch the finals, said of the spelling quest: “We believe that it is our responsibility to help the youth of today to uncover their true potential and develop into a well-rounded workforce of tomorrow. We are hopeful that our action will build an informed generation of confident, competitive and motivated individuals who will eventually become successful in their own right.”

Mrs Soo Kim Bee, senior specialist and master teacher, from the Gifted Education Branch, Ministry of Education, said: 
The pupils who have come on the journey of this championship have continually amazed me with their confidence, their courage and their determination to try.  Some of them are here on their third attempt.  By just going through the process, each time they have grown and gained from the experience.  Even when they are eliminated, they show grace and good sportsmanship.
“The teachers who have been involved in coaching, not just the spellers, but in teaching their English classes have shared that they are now more aware and comfortable using the strategies we shared in our workshop and in the resource materials, like the articles in the Little Red Dot and The Straits Times. They can see the spellers developing a passion for the language in their pursuit of a wider vocabulary. They have become more precise in their choice of words used for expressing their thoughts and ideas. This is laying the foundation of a key 21st Century competency – effective communication needs the use of the right words.

The contest, open to Primary 4, 5 and 6 pupils, drew a record number of more than 1,400 students who registered for the Preliminary round. 

Co-organised by RHB Banking Group and The Straits Times, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, this third edition of The Big Spell is supported by the National Library Board, Institute of Technical Education and tech giant Hewlett Packard.

Issued by Singapore Press Holdings Ltd
Co. Registration. No. 198402868E

For more information, please contact:

Andrea Thum (Ms)
Assistant Manager
Editorial Projects Unit
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
DID: 6319 1016

Yeo Siew Chi (Mr)
Corporate Communications & CSR 
Singapore Press Holdings Ltd 
DID: (65) 6319 1586 

About The Straits Times

The Straits Times, the English flagship daily of SPH, has been serving readers for more than a century. Launched 
on July 15, 1845, its comprehensive coverage of world news, East Asian news, Southeast Asian news, home news, sports news, financial news and lifestyle updates makes The Straits Times the most-read newspaper in Singapore. Quality news, in-depth analyses, impactful commentaries and breaking stories are packaged to give readers riveting accounts of events in Singapore, the region, and beyond. 

The Straits Times' key strength is in its world class coverage of news outside Singapore. With 20 bureaus in major cities around the world, The Straits Times correspondents bring world news to readers on a Singapore platter, helping them appreciate world events from a Singaporean perspective. 

In keeping with the times, The Straits Times carries weekly supplements such as Digital Life (DL), Urban and Mind Your Body (MYB) to complement The Straits Times as well as IN and Little Red Dot to cater to young readers in schools. Its many efforts have won multiple international awards from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, as well as the Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers' Association.

The Straits Times also has an online presence at The site features top stories, blogs and online forum threads. Also under The Straits Times' umbrella are citizen journalism site Stomp and online television service SPH Razor. 

The Straits Times has won many accolades and awards, including being named Singapore Newspaper of the Year 2013 by Marketing magazine and voted Singapore’s favourite newspaper 2013 by Superbrands. The Straits Times’ website also won gold in “Best In Online Media” at the 2012 Wan-Ifra Asian Digital Media Awards.

About Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

Incorporated in 1984, main board-listed Singapore Press Holdings Ltd (SPH) is Asia’s leading media organisation, engaging minds and enriching lives across multiple languages and platforms. SPH has 19 titles licensed under the Newspaper Printing and Presses Act, of which nine are daily newspapers across four languages. On an average day, 3.05 million individuals or 76 per cent of people above 15 years old, read one of SPH's news publications. SPH’s internet editions of its major newspapers enjoy over 300 million page views with 20 million unique visitors each month. Other new media initiatives include AsiaOne,, ST701, Stomp and SPH Razor. SPH has also ventured into book publishing, broadcasting, out-of-home advertising and properties. For more information, please visit

About RHB Bank Singapore

RHB Bank was first established in 1961 as United Malayan Banking Corporation Berhad. Through a series of rapid expansion and strategic mergers, RHB Bank Singapore emerged as a full-licensed bank with a network of 7 branches and operating 12 Bureau de Change outlets in Singapore Changi Airport. The Bank provides a comprehensive range of financial products and services to consumer, corporate and business clients, ranging from various types of deposits and loans, treasury to investment banking.

RHB Bank Singapore is the first full bank to be conferred the prestigious S-Class (Service Class) award by SPRING Singapore as well as the first and only bank in Singapore and Malaysia to be awarded the prestigious “Best Customer Experience Management of the Year Award” in banking service by APCSC Hong Kong. Most recently, it was also awarded the Singapore Quality Class STAR by SPRING Singapore in 2013.

For more information on RHB Bank Singapore
please log on to

About RHB Banking Group

The RHB Banking Group is the fourth largest fully integrated financial services group in Malaysia. The Group’s core businesses are streamlined into seven Strategic Business Groups (“SBGs”): Retail Banking, Corporate & Investment Banking, Business Banking, Islamic Banking, Global Financial Banking, Group Treasury and Group Transaction Banking. These businesses are offered through its main subsidiaries - RHB Bank Berhad, RHB Investment Bank Berhad, RHB Insurance Berhad and RHB Islamic Bank Berhad, while its asset management and unit trust businesses are undertaken by RHB Asset Management Sdn. Bhd. and RHB Islamic International Asset Management Berhad. The Group’s regional presence now spans eight countries including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It is RHB Banking Group’s aspiration to deliver superior customer experience and shareholder value; and to be recognised as a Leading Multinational Financial Services Group.

About the Ministry of Education

The Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE) formulates and implements education policies and programmes in consultation with its stakeholders. These policies and programmes aim to help all students discover their talents, realise their potential, and develop a passion for learning that lasts through life. MOE also oversees the development and management of the Government and Government-aided primary schools, secondary schools and junior colleges. Please visit for more information.