Singapore, 8 December 2018 – After almost three weeks of voting which ended on 2 December, Lianhe Zaobao readers have selected “马” as the Chinese character to sum up 2018 in the annual Character of the Year (字述一年) poll.
The character “马”（read as "Ma"）is the first character for the Chinese translation of "Malaysia" (马来西亚). It is also the first character of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s name in Chinese（马哈迪）.
Lianhe Zaobao, the Chinese flagship newspaper of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), has been organising Character of the Year since 2011. For the eighth consecutive year, 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 17000 votes were collected this year. Only votes from local readers were considered for the final tally, and both characters “马” (representing Malaysia) and “贸” (trade) maintained significant leads in the polls, with “马” emerging the top Chinese character, garnering more than twice the number of votes for “贸”. The character “金” (read as "Jin", representing the name of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the pen name of martial arts novelist Louis Cha "Jin Yong") came in third.
The Character of the Year was unveiled through a live broadcast on zaobao.sg, 96.3 Hao FM, UFM100.3 and zbCOMMA’s Facebook page on 8 December, hosted by a DJ from each of the SPH Radio’s Chinese stations 96.3 Hao FM and UFM100.3, as well as a reporter from Lianhe Zaobao. They presented the ten shortlisted characters in sequence of vote counts, and talked about news events related to each character. At the end of the event, local sand artist Lawrence Koh was invited to unveil the Character of the Year by drawing the character “马” and related images through sand art.
Apart from the top three characters, the editorial team of Lianhe Zaobao, together with a panel of professionals comprising experts and academics from different fields, also short-listed “假” (fake), “网” (internet/network), “会”(meeting), “价” (price/value), “性” (gender/sexuality), “正” (righteous) and “减” (reduce) this year.
Out of the ten characters, “马” accounted for almost 30% of the total votes. The character “马” caught the attention of readers, with news from Malaysia making the headlines, including Malaysia's 14th General Election which marked the first ever regime change of the Malaysian government. Subsequently, numerous issues between Singapore and Malaysia also garnered attention, such as Dr Mahathir’s suggestion to raise water prices, delay of the high speed rail project, and several others.
Mr Goh Sin Teck, Editor of Lianhe Zaobao and Lianhe Wanbao, said: “There have been a few events in the past year that are considered historic, including the Trump-Kim Summit in Singapore, the US and China trade war, as well as the discussion on how to tackle fake news around the globe. With our readers voting ‘马’ as the Character of the Year, it is clear that our neighbour Malaysia has garnered more attention from Singaporeans.”
He added: "In particular, after the Malaysian general election in May, we witnessed a historic change inthe new government led by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir, which took a different direction, thus affecting the relationship between Singapore and Malaysia. Even in December, issues over airspace and sea boundaries have surfaced, putting further stresses on the bilateral relations. Entering 2019, “马” may continue to be a buzzword in the news.”
During the voting period, Lianhe Zaobao featured each of the 10 Chinese characters in a full page report for 10 consecutive days. Each article expounded on the various definitions of the character and how its various meanings were linked to the major local and international events of the year.
Outreach efforts to promote Character of the Year included online and social media platforms, exhibitions held at public libraries, as well as broadcast through Chinese radio stations 96.3 Hao FM and UFM100.3.
Issued by Singapore Press Holdings Ltd
Co. Regn. No. 198402868E
For more information, please contact:
Toh Teck Meng
Chinese Media Group NewsHub
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
DID: 6319 1449
Elaine Chrysta Tan
Corporate Communications & CSR
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
DID: 6319 1613
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 core business is publishing of newspapers, magazines and books in both print and digital editions. It also owns other digital products, online classifieds, radio stations and outdoor media.
On the property front, SPH owns 70% in a real estate investment trust called SPH REIT which comprises Paragon, a premier upscale retail mall and medical suite/office property in Orchard Road, The Clementi Mall, a mid-market suburban mall and The Rail Mall, a stretch of shopping and dining outlets along Upper Bukit Timah Road. SPH also owns and operates The Seletar Mall. It is developing a new commercial cum residential site at Woodleigh. It also has a stake in Chinatown Point and acquired a portfolio of Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) in the United Kingdom.
It is in the aged care sector and owns Orange Valley, Singapore's largest private nursing home operator.
SPH runs a regional events arm and a chain of Buzz retail outlets. It also invested in the education business.
For more information, please visitwww.sph.com.sg.