- Readers participate in preliminary nomination for the first time
Singapore, 15 December 2014 – After three weeks of voting, Lianhe Zaobao readers have selected 乱, which means disorder or chaos, as the Chinese character to sum up 2014.
Lianhe Zaobao, the Chinese flagship newspaper of media group Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), has been organising 字述一年(Character of the Year) since 2011. For the fourth year running, readers were invited to participate in the annual poll, by choosing a Chinese character that they feel would best summarise the major local and international news events of the year.
More than 73,000 votes were collected this year. Only votes from local readers were considered for the final tally, and both 乱and 难 (hardship/tragedy) had maintained a significant lead in the polls, with 乱emerging as the top Chinese character after a near tie. The character 恐 (fear/terror) came in third.
The editorial team of Lianhe Zaobao, together with a panel of professionals comprising experts and academics from different fields, had also short-listed 制 (control/check), 安 (security), 占 (occupy), 思 (thought/reflection), 抗 (protest), 史 (history) and 建 (construct). Among the ten characters, 乱, which garnered the most votes, was nominated by readers right from the start of the campaign. This was the first time that readers were invited to take part in the preliminary nomination process.
Mr Goh Sin Teck, Editor of Lianhe Zaobao, said: “The character 乱 seems to have left a deep impression on Singaporeans this year. Although we live in a relatively stable society, global news events over the past year have caused an impact, with many feeling uneasiness and confusion. The choice, hence, could be an instinctive one. It also demonstrates that Singapore, being a small nation with an open economy, can be easily affected both directly or indirectly by any external volatility.”
He added: “By choosing this Chinese character, Singaporeans are probably also saying that they have not been too satisfied with year 2014, and are hoping for a world order that is restored and stable, and for a better year ahead.”
Readers chose 霾 (haze) as the representative Chinese character last year, when Singapore experienced its worst haze situation in decades.
The character 乱 has caught the attention of readers this year, against the backdrop of major news events, such as protest movements in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS threat, as well as Ukraine's political crisis. With the twin tragedies of MH370 and MH17 still fresh in the minds of many, the character 难 was popular with readers as well.
Overseas voters, mainly users of Zaobao.com, were also invited to participate in the polls. These votes gave a good indication of how differently local and overseas readers reacted to the ten short-listed words. 乱 and 难 ranked second and third in the polls, whereas the character 建 was in the top position.
In conjunction with the annual voting, outreach efforts by Lianhe Zaobao were strengthened this year. For the first time, an event was held at Kreta Ayer Square, where members of the public interacted with some of Zaobao's senior writers and editors, and discussed with them about the hottest news topics of the year. About 200 votes were collected over two hours at the event.
Ms Han Yong May, Associate Editor and News Editor of Lianhe Zaobao, said: “Lianhe Zaobao is organising Character of the Year for the fourth time this year. Besides featuring the special reports in our papers, and allowing our readers to vote online, our reporters also went out to collect votes from the readers, and understand the reasons for their choice.”
She added: “For example, we found out that although most people chose 乱 and 难, the elderly preferred the words 建 and 安, which represented a greater sense of security and stability, whereas for young students, a significant proportion chose 抗, which means protest. It shows us that at different stages of life, people tend to see the world and the news differently, and also provides new meaning to our campaign, where we try to see things through the same lens as our readers, and be a little closer to them.”
Other outreach efforts of Character of the Year include:
• Online and social media outreach: A dedicated microsite (http://www.zaobao.com.sg/special/report/supplement/word2014) was set up, and a series of campaign videos featuring Cultural Medallion winner and calligrapher Tan Kian Por and Chinese educator Pauli Haakenson were widely shared on social media platforms. Each video captured an average of 2000 views on Facebook.
• Collaboration with National Library Board: Exhibitions were held at Ang Mo Kio Public Library, Toa Payoh Public Library and Tampines Regional Library. Library volunteers facilitated Chinese word games, and Zaobao reporters also shared with library-goers about the campaign.
• School outreach: A small-group discussion was organised at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. Students shared their candid views, and displayed creativity by presenting their “votes” through drawings and cartoons.
• Outreach at Seniors' Activity Centre: An outreach event was held at a Seniors' Activity Centre in Kebun Bahru, and votes were collected from the elderly.
The winning character was unveiled on 13 December at Jurong Spring Community Club, with the help of Lianhe Zaobao readers and volunteers from Jurong Spring Community Arts and Culture Club (CACC), through "quilling", an art form that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs. Members of the public were also invited to pen down their hopes and wishes at the event for the coming year.
Please see attached Chinese media release and photo. Please credit Lianhe Zaobao for use of photo.
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Ng Wai Mun | 黄伟曼
Senior Reporter, Lianhe Zaobao |《联合早报》采访组
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