10 of the most popular stories on straitstimes.com in 2015

Paper cranes being put up on a wall at Tanjong Katong Primary School to pay tribute to the victims of the Sabah earthquake.
Paper cranes being put up on a wall at Tanjong Katong Primary School to pay tribute to the victims of the Sabah earthquake. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - A series of tumultuous happenings abroad, coupled with several significant events at home, meant that 2015 was a hectic one for The Straits Times newsroom.

The death of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in March and September's General Election were the two that dominated headlines in Singapore's Golden Jubilee year, but there was no shortage of standout moments.

Here are 10 of the most popular and well-read articles on The Straits Times' website for the whole of 2015.

1. Pickle over apples


Singapore did not import the affected batches of apples from the US. PHOTO: ST FILE

Singaporeans clearly love their apples, and news that neighbours Malaysia had banned two popular brands of apples from California in January sparked widespread interest.

There were fears that several batches of Gala red apples and Granny Smith green apples could be tainted with the Listeriosis bacteria, which causes high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, nausea and in severe cases, death.

The story was the single most read online ST article, attracting more than 1.8 million page views.

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2. Terrorism threat


A Muslim boy holding up a sign that reads "ISIS is our enemy" during a rally in Mumbai, India. PHOTO: REUTERS

The Republic was identified as a possible target for attack by an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) posting on social media in May.

Experts warned that attempts by the Middle Eastern terrorist group to gain a foothold in the South-east Asian region posed a severe threat to Singapore and its neighbours.

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3. Arrest of Amos


Blogger Amos Yee in the video that got him into trouble with the law. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

Teenage blogger Amos Yee was arrested on March 29 after uploading a YouTube video which celebrated the death of Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and criticised his political career.

At least 20 police reports had been made against Yee for his eight-minute clip, which also saw the 17-year-old making insensitive remarks about Christianity and challenging Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to sue him.

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4. Singapore's Sabah quake victims


Familes of the deceased boarding an SAF plane to return to Singapore at the Kota Kinabalu airport. PHOTO: ST FILE

The 6.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Sabah on June 5 claimed the lives of 10 Singaporeans, including seven pupils and two teachers from Tanjong Katong Primary School on a field trip to Mount Kinabalu.

A story about the latest developments, which reported that the bodies of five of the pupils and a teacher had been flown back to Singapore, was closely followed.

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5. Scare for Indonesia AirAsia flight


An AirAsia plane at Surabaya's Juanda International Airport. PHOTO" ST FILE

Barely a week after the disappearance of the ill-fated QZ8501 on Dec 28, 2014, another Indonesia AirAsia flight was in the news again when the plane's engine failed just before it took off from Juanda International Airport in Surabaya.

The plane, which had 162 people on board, had been taxiing for 2m to 3m before takeoff when the engine "suddenly died", horrifying passengers who heard a loud sound.

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6. Drama near Shangri-La Hotel


A bullet hole is seen in the red car driven by the three men near Shangri-La Hotel. PHOTO: ST FILE

A 34-year-old Singaporean man was shot dead by police and two others arrested in the early hours of May 31 when their Singapore-registered car crashed through police barricades after it was stopped at a road junction near Shangri-La Hotel.

Police checkpoints had been set up around the Shangri-La Hotel where a high-level security summit was being held.

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7. Fake rice fears


Reports of plastic rice laced with a poisonous resin sparked fears in the Asian region. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER 

Plastic rice reportedly made from potatoes but laced with a poisonous resin was said to have made its way into several Asian countries such as India, Indonesia and Vietnam in May.

Despite rumours that the fake rice had entered Singapore, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) assured the public that it had not received any reports of the rice.

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8. Fitting room shenanigans


The couple filmed themselves having sex in a Uniqlo fitting room. PHOTO: SHANGHAIIST

A video of a couple having sex in the fitting room of a Uniqlo store in Beijing in June went viral on Chinese social media.

The identities of the frisky duo were exposed by netizens on microblogging platform Weibo, but there was also speculation that the video was a publicity stunt by the normally family-friendly Japanese clothing brand.

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9. How an ex-bankrupt turned his life around


Property developer David Cheang seated in his marigold yellow Lamborghini Gallardo. PHOTO: MIKE LEE FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Property developer David Cheang's inspirational story about his spectacular comeback from bankruptcy was documented by senior writer Wong Kim Hoh as part of his award-winning It Changed My Life series.

The 38-year-old, who now enjoys the finer things in life thanks to his hard work, had been a bankrupt for nearly a decade - he was a guarantor for loans worth several million dollars taken by his parents, whose electrical appliance business went bust in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.

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10. Jay & Hannah's love story


Hannah Quinlivan helping Jay Chou wear his ring at their wedding in Yorkshire. PHOTO: FACEBOOK

Mandopop king Jay Chou and Taiwanese-Australian model Hannah Quinlivan's fairy-tale wedding in England at the start of the year was the talk of the town.

The Straits Times took a closer look at the couple's four-year romance, such as how they never argued, as well as how Quinlivan stole the heart of Chou's mother.

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