It’s been a great year/It’s been a shit year. Whether your take on 2016 is optimistic or pessimistic, we round up both extremes in Popspoken’s Best/Worst of 2016 – featuring everything from our verticals, here and abroad. 


1) New Rules on Pink Dot

The latest in an increasingly ugly tussle between supporters of the Pink Dot and Wear White movements saw the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issue the following statement back in June regarding foreign sponsorship.

The Government’s general position has always been that foreign entities should not interfere in our domestic issues, especially political issues or controversial social issues with political overtones. These are political, social or moral choices for Singaporeans to decide for ourselves. LGBT issues are one such example.

This is why under the rules governing the use of the Speakers’ Corner, for events like Pink Dot, foreigners are not allowed to organise or speak at the events, or participate in demonstrations.

MHA also clarified that the same rules would apply to the opposing movement(s) to the LGBT cause.

The timing of this statement was significant as Pink Dot 2016 saw a record high of 18 corporate sponsors, including Google, JP Morgan, and Goldman Sachs, as well as first-time sponsors Apple, Facebook, Visa and General Electric.

But there may be hope yet.

US Presidential Debates - NTU Student Captures Scenes - Popspoken

A Fight for $15 campaigner and a Trump supporter engage in heated discussion about the economy and the issue of minimum wage. The argument draws a crowd of other campaigners who listen without interrupting. Photo & Caption: Hillary Tan Jia Lerk

2) Trump

We covered America’s descent into madness from a few unexpected angles; from spotlighting Singaporean student Kenneth Sng‘s opening speech at the US Presidential Debate to showcasing Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI) undergrad Hillary Tan‘s emotionally-charged photo essay on campaigners in the US.

And then he won.

Trump’s shock election kickstarted our Popspoken Roundtable series, with our first piece discussing why youth in Singapore should care about this surprising outcome.

Women dressed in jumpsuits with brick designs and Donald Trump's misogynistic quotes take a break with Fight for $15 campaigners, as a young girl with the Green Party campaigners runs in for a short dance. Photo & Caption: Hillary Tan Jia Lerk

Women dressed in jumpsuits with brick designs and Donald Trump’s misogynistic quotes take a break with Fight for $15 campaigners, as a young girl with the Green Party campaigners runs in for a short dance. Photo & Caption: Hillary Tan Jia Lerk

The next four years will be a tense time for America and the world around it. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Shangela Laquifa Wadley touched on Trump’s America when we spoke to her last week.

It is a tenuous time for drag queens like her in America, with the recent election of Donald Trump as US president and a Congress that looks to reverse many of the progresses made for the LGBTQIA+ community.

“We can’t live in fear. There are going to be people who will disagree with us, but it’s important for us to stand up and say what’s right and what’s wrong… the more we (voice out), the more we get the government to uphold the law. They have to. We will make sure we are heard,” she said.

3) Every 80’s Celeb Dying

Tough year to be an 80’s kid; just about everyone that made your childhood so special passed away this year.

Dubbed “the worst year ever” by every online publication hoping to net more views with hyperbole, 2016 went above and beyond just ruining 80’s kids lives by taking away timeless music greats such as David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, and George Michael. Heroes like Muhammad Ali, Harper Lee, and Alan Rickman were also not spared.

Dr. Donald Ainslie Henderson died on 19 August 2016, aged 87.

At least we can take comfort in this tweet:

4) Issues & Social Awareness in Singapore

No judgement here; we’re all learning. This year, the Singaporean public debated ferociously over issues of social awareness, sometimes with tact and eventual progress.

In February, we discussed whether actress Rebecca Lim‘s marketing stunt with NTUC Income was ethical.


Over the next month, tobacco came into question as the Ministry of Health (MOH) considered raising the legal age of smoking from 18 to 21. We discussed whether this was impinging on freedom of choice and pondered the effectiveness of hard-line legislation.

In June, the Oxford English Dictionary pissed off a generation of Chinese-educated Singaporeans who had been dealt a bad hand through no fault of their own.

NUS Responds: Sexual Freshman Orientation Activities "Neither Approved Nor Endorsed"

At the height of the orientation season, the National University of Singapore (NUS) decided to suspend all freshmen orientation activities after unsafe and sexual activities were reported, supported by video evidence. Debates about issues such as normalisation of sexual assault, rape culture, and consent saturated Facebook timelines.

MediaCorp’s online service Toggle came under fire in late October for featuring Chinese actor Shane Pow in a racially insensitive blackface scene. Toggle’s online apology was dismissed by Twitter users, who felt that the company was insincere and unrepentant.


Most recently, a Teenage Magazine blunder once again brought up issues of consent when their popular “Dear Kelly” column dished out victim-blaming advice. Author Kelly Chopard and Teenage Magazine then issued separate statements to an agitated Facebook audience.

Talk about a heavy year. Need a little pick-me-up? Take a look on the bright side with the Best of 2016!


Featured image: Hillary Tan Jia Lerk

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