Another year, another period of pandemic. Undoubtedly, 2021 did not turn out how we wanted or even expected. From Covid-19 variants to the birth of Singapore’s first giant panda cub, the last 12 months have been a rollercoaster ride.
We asked Singaporeans who caught their attention in 2021 – both locally and globally, and there were some surprising picks.
Singapore News Personality of the Year
Once again, Singaporeans ranked politicians as their top newsmakers of 2021.
Except for Gen Zers, all other segments of Singaporeans picked Lawrence Wong as their No.1 choice. Lawrence Wong is a mainstay on mainstream media, especially in 2021 where he was regularly seen fielding questions from the media and public as part of his role in the COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce. After taking over the Finance Minister portfolio last April, his popularity skyrocketed and put him among the favourites to become Singapore’s next Prime Minister. According to our yearend poll, he managed to even edge out the incumbent Prime Minister.
The second most popular new personality is Le Le, Singapore’s first giant panda cub. Born to Jia Jia and Kai Kai, this beloved cub was a welcome piece of good news amidst the gloom and doom of the pandemic. Unsurprisingly, Le Le is the most popular newsmaker amongst the Gen Zers (15-24 year olds).
PM Lee Hsien Loong came in at third place in our poll, a slight dip from his top spot in 2020. This mirrors his official desire to step down from the limelight to make way for the next generation of leaders.
Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung was ranked fourth by Singaporeans. Just like Lawrence Wong, Ong Ye Kung appeared regularly in the media as a key member of the Covid-19 multi-ministry taskforce.
In fifth place, we have five-time Paralympic gold medallist and ST Singaporean of the Year nominee, Yip Pin Xiu. She brought glory to the nation by successfully defending her swimming titles at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
International News Personality of the Year
US President Joe Biden was ranked as the top news personality at the global level by Singaporeans. Joe Biden’s popularity rose in Southeast Asia, especially after the Southeast Asia Summit where he pledged US$100 million to countries in the region to tackle the challenges brought about by the pandemic and climate change.
In second place is Elon Musk, Time Magazine’s Person of the year. Elon Musk officially earned the title of the richest man in the world in 2021, with his expansive forays into electric cars, space travel and bitcoin.
It is worth noting that there are significant generational differences when it comes to who Singaporeans thought were outstanding international personalities in 2021. Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, Elon Musk ranked first and was a country mile ahead of Joe Biden amongst GenZers who did not even place the US President in their Top 5. The Tesla and SpaceX founder rated first ahead of even BTS and Taylor Swift with GenZers.
Chinese President Xi Jinping was ranked third by Singaporeans. Xi Jinping delivered a historical speech at his party’s 100th year anniversary in 2021 and our data shows that many Singaporeans admire China’s success in growing its economy.
Rounding off the fourth and fifth spots are two giants in the business arena — Jack Ma and Bill Gates. Both men claimed the spotlight in 2021 for infamous reasons. Jack Ma went missing in late 2020 after his controversial speech at the Bund Finance Summit. Bill Gates went through a divorce after his marriage of 27-years ended amidst of climate of rumours of affairs with his own staff.
Author: Blackbox Research Team