2014: The good, the bad and the ugly


British expat Anton Casey called subway riders “poor people” and an endless (and vaguely entertaining) sh**storm ensued.

Singapore Art Week (Jan 13-19) was pretty exciting, with art fair behemoth Art Stage and exhibitions at practically every gallery. Standouts included Dorothy Vogel’s appearance at the Herb & Dorothy docu-screening, a party at Gillman Barracks and the Sideshow-curated Aliwal Urban Art Festival.


On the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom report, Singapore ranked 150 out of 180, just ahead of Mexico and The Democratic Republic of Congo.

Whatsapp was bought out by Facebook, resulting in a paranoid (but short-lived) migration over to alternatives like Line.

The alcohol tax hike was announced, and outraged Singaporeans initially threatened to do all their drinking in neighboring countries. In retrospect, it seems higher prices have yet to cool our thirst for boutique Champagnes and artisanal rums.


Once anti-establishment bad boys, The Rolling Stones came to Singapore and played at the very established Marina Bay Sands’ Ballroom. Not the most rock n’ roll venue, but hey, they’re getting (very) old.

Singapore Design Week (what is it with Singapore and themed weeks?) saw a great turnout for hipster events involving fixies and design studios. Plus, the National Design Centre opened, and has since played host to pop-ups galore.

Hip hop legends Wu-Tang Clan and Jurassic 5 both played at Zouk within two nights of one another.

Headed by newly-installed director Susie Lingham, Singapore Art Museum kicked off the year’s slew of big art shows with Unearthed, a high-concept, multi-disciplinary artistic meditation on earth sciences.


The Singapore edition of Songkran was announced (to much head-scratching), and then promptly canceled due to the unseasonal dry spell. Sadly, water conservation efforts thwarted our attempt to randomly annex Thai culture.

Orchard Gateway opened in April, with a slew of local stores like Actually, Whole9Yards and Sects shop.


Alternative clubs Home Club and Sultan Jazz Club closed within weeks of each other, causing a small ruckus among people who care about music. They’ve since been replaced with Canvas and SingJazz Club.

Local craft brewery Jungle Beer closed abruptly, with head brewer Adi Challa nowhere to be found. Sad!

Potato Head Folk opened on Keong Saik to ridiculous amounts of hype. The same, sadly, couldn’t be said for the return of local gem Wild Rocket later in the year.


The Philippine Independence Day celebration was canned, thanks in part to xenophobic Facebook trolls.

Political critic and writer Catherine Lim struck again with an open letter to PM Lee, helpfully pointing out that the government has lost the people’s trust. Much hoo-ha ensued, keeping columnists busy for a few days.

After a great event in February, Hostess Club Weekender canceled its Singapore leg, and our hopes of prostrating before Cat Power in the flesh were dashed.

Zouk got raided by police, and clubbers were left stranded indoors for up to three hours while cops carried out searches. The set by German trance duo Cosmic Gate was also canceled.

The Singapore Sports Hub opened and has been busy ever since with huge sporting events like the WTA Finals (where Serena clobbered Simona Halep in October) and December’s AFF Suzuki Cup, where Singapore didn’t even make it out of their group.

Singaporeans got increasingly bleary-eyed as the World Cup wore on with an endless string of 3am matches. Germany won. Productivity suffered.

Seemingly in response to too-fancy gourmet markets (read: stalls selling air-flown cheeses), the first legit farmers market (with actual local produce and eggs!) took place.

Kranji Countryside Farmers’ Market saw a huge turnout of ecstatic farm-to-table enthusiasts.

About 28,000 LGBT folks and their allies attended the steadily growing Pink Dot event, despite concerns that the anti-gay Wear White movement would cause friction. It didn’t, and Pink Dot continued to be a shockingly wholesome, family picnic with a scant drag queen or two. We hope for something more raucous and feather-filled next time.


Hot on the heels of Pink Dot, The National Library Board banned three children’s books depicting gay families, including And Tango Makes Three, causing much debate between those applauding the NLB protecting traditional attitudes and those condemning the board for kowtowing to cry-baby homophobes.


Mos Def was a no-show at Summerdaze music festival on Sentosa. The crowd waited till nearly midnight when it was finally announced that the man wasn’t coming at all. We knew it was too good to be true—tickets were only $30 a pop.

After a monster social media campaign and months of will-they-or-won’t-they, Zouk announced that it had gotten a lease extension and would not close at the end of the year. Alas, other clubs did: The Vault and, come March 2015, The Butter Factory.


Tan Pin Pin’s documentary, To Singapore with Love, was banned in Singapore for allegedly misrepresenting government actions against dissidents in the 1960s.

The Transboundary Haze Act did nothing to stop the haze in its tracks, going as high as 113 on the PSI (the “unhealthy” range begins at 101) in mid-September. F1 was slightly marred by a blanket of haze, but JLo’s lofty assets lifted
our spirits.


Kaiser Chiefs ditched us as Hostess Club Weekender was canceled again, this time due to band visa issues in Tokyo.

It was a good month for bookworms: the much-loved Library@Orchard returned, and so did Kinokuniya’s flagship in its new (albeit smaller) space.

Our 19th Readers’ Choice Awards were a rollicking success, concluding well after midnight with dozens of shoeless revelers ripping up the dance floor at Altimate.


The never-ending defamation saga between PM Lee and Roy Ngerng ended with the judge finding the blogger guilty.

The Living Planet Report by WWF found that Singapore has the seventh largest carbon footprint in the world. Curiously, though, we topped Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015 list soon after.

Everyone was late to all their morning appointments as the In-n-Out burger pop-up took place for one morning, with three-hour queues.

The Ministry of Health announced a ban on shisha smoking. Here’s to living longer.


Singapore International Film Festival (www.sgiff.com) returned after a two-year hiatus, with local cinema Ken Kwek’s Unlucky Plaza as the opening film and a visit from John Woo and Juliette Binoche