The best and the worst of Singapore in 2015

2015 has taken us on quite a rollercoaster ride this year, with lots of good news like the Botanic Gardens becoming a UNESCO World Heritage site and the opening of restaurants like Odette. There were also less pleasant events, like the passing of Singapore’s founding father, Lee Kwan Yew, and the City Harvest Church saga. Here’s a look at the events that shaped us this year.


, The best and the worst of Singapore in 2015FKA Twigs

  • This year’s St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival had great headliners like synth-pop princess FKA Twigs and American singer-songwriter St. Vincent—even though Lykke Li canceled. In a sad twist, the explosion of litter at the Meadow at Gardens by the Bay had Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long tell Singaporeans to pick up after themselves in a Facebook post. Oops! 
  • Housed in a former Bukit Merah rice mill, The Annex @ The Mill, hosted a major pre-demolishment party over three weekends (Jan 31-Feb 14), featuring a mega line-up of 60 artists and creative collectives. Members of the public and other artists chipped in by doodling and painting on the walls of the building. The event was a hit, although some three artists had their artworks damaged after a dance party. 

, The best and the worst of Singapore in 2015Photo credit: Jovian Lim

  • Sexy co-working space The Working Capitol launched on Keong Saik in a beautiful heritage building, with slick Scandinavian interiors and an events venue and yuccie-approved private offices. It now has crepe café The Daily Roundup on the ground floor, and restaurants Lollapalooza and Neon Pigeon within the five-shophouse cluster—to say nothing of all the cool networking events it has been hosting in recent months. 


, The best and the worst of Singapore in 2015

  • A double whammy of MRT disruptions happened. First, a trespasser on the tracks caused services to be delayed between Bukit Gombak and Yew Tee stations, and then a track fault from Yew Tee to Kranji caused trains to be stalled for four hours on two separate occasions. 
  • The Roy Ngerng saga continued when the erstwhile blogger was ordered to pay Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long $29,000 in total for legal costs and other expenses incurred during the trial. 


, The best and the worst of Singapore in 2015Photo credit: smuconlaw on Flickr

  • It was an emotional month for Singaporeans as Lee Kuan Yew passed on Mar 29 at the age of 91. The week leading up to his funeral had locals and foreign dignitaries making tributes to the founding father of Singapore. Thousands queued to pay their last respects at the Parliament House, and thronged the streets to watch his funeral procession despite the rain. 
  • 16 year-old blogger Amos Yee was charged in court on Mar 31 for allegedly making insensitive remarks about Christianity in a video on Youtube. Naturally, there were debates over the charges and plenty of drama. 


, The best and the worst of Singapore in 2015Photo credit: Quinn Dumbrowski

  • The Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Act came into effect on April 1, bringing booze-filled nights under the void deck to an end. The new law meant that drinking in public places is banned from 10:30pm-7am, and shops were also not allowed to sell alcohol during the period. 


, The best and the worst of Singapore in 2015

Photo credit: Jnzl

  • The 85 year-old Capitol Theatre finally re-opened after a long revamp, with 900 seats and the largest single-screen cinema in Southeast Asia. Right beside it are shopping mall Capitol Piazza and the new Capitol Singapore, formerly known as The Stamford House. 
  • Ngee Ann City’s reveal of its newly renovated third floor (previously occupied by Kinokuniya) injected some excitement to the Orchard Road retail scene with stylish boutiques like Rue Madame and American Vintage

, The best and the worst of Singapore in 2015

  • The National Arts Council revoked an $8,000 publishing grant for artist Sonny Liew’s graphic novel, The Art of Charlie Chan, on the eve of its launch here because of “sensitive content”—the book has gone on to have multiple print runs with its publisher Epigram, to meet popular demand. 


, The best and the worst of Singapore in 2015Photo credit: The Gordon Ramsay Group

  • Two exciting UK restaurant openings, Gordon Ramsey’s Bread Street Kitchen at Marina Bay Sands and gourmet burger specialist Meat Liquor SIN, made this year the one to watch for new players in the dining scene. 
  • Part of the Singapore International Festival of Arts, The O.P.E.N (17 Jun- Jul 4) was an augmented reality tour of the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, which brought visitors on a tour of the site through an app. There were videos, interviews, games and images streamed via the app throughout this interactive walk, making art a lot less stuffy, and tons more fun. 


, The best and the worst of Singapore in 2015Photo credit: Jnzl

  • Singapore’s grand dame, the 156 year-old Botanic Gardens was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site at the 39th World Heritage Committee meeting in Bonn, Germany. Bring on the confetti! 
  • The Urban Redevelopment Authority announced on Jul 1 that it plans to look at the possibility of making the 10km-long Kallang Park Connector a ride-friendly experience for cyclists to commute from Bishan to the CBD. 


, The best and the worst of Singapore in 2015Photo credit: Alexander Dennis

  • Finally, after building up hype about Singapore’s Golden Jubilee since the start of the year, celebrations were abound from the big show at The Padang, to other fringe events along the City Hall and Marina Bay precincts. 
  • In a heart-warming Facebook post that went viral, netizens praised one Singaporean uncle who encouraged three foreign workers to keep their seats instead of giving them up to Singaporean commuters on an off-peak train. 


, The best and the worst of Singapore in 2015Photo credit: Thomas Timlen

  • Rallies, debates and hot-button topics all came to a head during the General Elections on Sep 13. Fresh, nubile faces (Kervyn Lim), abrupt exits (National Solidarity Party secretary-general Hazel Poa) and the reshuffling of constituencies were all part of a day’s work. 
  • Couch potatos have another reason to stay home—Netflix announced its plans to launch in Singapore. 
  • In other news, writer-director Jonathan Lim’s sketch-parody of Amos Yee was cut by the MDA in a he-said, they-said brouhaha

, The best and the worst of Singapore in 2015Photo credit: Charles Collier

  • The haze, which started in July, reached 341 on the PSI index, making it the worst reading since 2013. Regionally, things were even more dire, with many Indonesian villagers needing evacuation, the smoke plumes visible from space and the incident called the worst on record. The noxious air sparked a conversation among Singaporeans and environmental activists about the consumption of palm oil, which was named as a main catalyst of the pollution. 


, The best and the worst of Singapore in 2015Photo credit: NParks

  • Off-shore attraction, Coney Island, was finally opened to the public. Among the things to see were a single Brahman bull, nationally-endangered wildlife and a villa built by the Haw Par brothers. 
  • After months of speculation, it was announced that nightlife stalwart Zouk would be sold to Genting Hong Kong, which was buying over the club’s major trademarks like the new Clarke Quay venue and beach party Zoukout. 


  • Six City Harvest church leaders, including pastor Kong Hee, were found guilty of misappropriating $24 million in church money to fund the music career of Kong Hee’s wife, Ho Yeow Sun. 
  • Julien Royer’s modern French restaurant Odette opened to much fan-fare at the National Gallery and tables were already booked through Jan next year. Following its launch, the Michelin Guide confirmed a Singapore edition to plenty of buzz. If Odette doesn’t get a star, we’ll eat our deconstructed hats. 

, The best and the worst of Singapore in 2015Photo credit: Darren Soh and National Gallery Singapore

  • Singapore’s first Southeast Asian art museum National Gallery opened on Nov 24 with two weeks of free events, parties, art installations, workshops and a maker market. 


, The best and the worst of Singapore in 2015

  • Downtown Line 2 opened with free rides across the 12 new train stations on Dec 5. 
  • An online petition to remove Adam Lambert from countdown show Celebrate 2016 at Marina Bay made headlines as organizers of the petition cited that the singer’s “highly sexualized lifestyle and LGBT rights” were in conflict to mainstream Singaporean values. 
  • The Singapore International Film Festival returned, but following the screening of Eric Khoo‘s In The Room at the event, it was announced that the movie was deemed Not Suitable for all Ratings and wouldn’t get a general release in Singapore.