'Awake' brain surgery and iconic Trump-Kim photos: SPH celebrates journalism's best

Winners of the Singapore Press Holdings' annual awards for its English/Malay/Tamil Media Group at the awards ceremony on March 13, 2019.
Winners of the Singapore Press Holdings' annual awards for its English/Malay/Tamil Media Group at the awards ceremony on March 13, 2019.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - The Straits Times' executive photojournalist Kevin Lim was named Journalist of the Year at Singapore Press Holdings' annual journalism awards for its English/Malay/Tamil Media (EMTM) group.

It is the first time that a photojournalist has won the award.

The Straits Times' senior health correspondent Salma Khalik bagged another top prize, the Story of the Year award, for her news story on insurance companies appealing to the Ministry of Health to make it compulsory for patients to pay part of their medical bills.

The New Paper's David Sun was named Young Journalist of the Year.

Find out more about their winning works:

1. Journalist Of The Year

Kevin Lim, The Straits Times


The Straits Times' executive photojournalist Kevin Lim was named Journalist of the Year. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The 36-year-old photojournalist covered the historic US-North Korea summit in Singapore last June.

His iconic photos of the meeting between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have appeared in top publications around the world and even on a stamp by Singapore Post. One photo he took was also featured in Time magazine's Top 100 Photos of 2018.

2. Young Journalist Of The Year

David Sun, The New Paper


The New Paper journalist David Sun was named Young Journalist of the Year. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Mr Sun, 26, joined the paper full-time only last June, but had repeated internship stints at the paper before that.

Among the stories he broke in 2018 were Blu Jaz Cafe losing its entertainment licence and a wedding banquet where dozens fell ill after the meal.

3. Story Of The Year

Insurers want all patients to pay part of hospital bills  

Salma Khalik, The Straits Times  


ST senior health correspondent Salma Khalik, who won Story of the Year. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Ms Khalik, 64, picked up the Story of the Year gong for her article on insurers wanting patients to pay part of hospital bills, which affected some 1.3 million people with riders.

The veteran journalist, who has been in the industry for almost 40 years, spent five months chasing the story.

Excellence In Journalism

1. Brain surgery while he's awake

Adeline Chua, Wang Hui Fen, Chang Ai-Lien, Basil Edward Teo & Teoh Yi Chie - The Straits Times 

The ST team produced a package of cross-media stories that documented 32-year-old Oh Zhi Long's brain surgery and his year-long journey to recovery.

During the operation, Mr Oh was awake, so that the doctors could speak to him to assess the effects of the surgery.

2. Climate of change series

A Straits Times cross-media project

Over six months, the ST team embarked on an ambitious climate change project, travelling to 17 places to look at the impact of climate change on people and places as well as the solutions.

Among the 19 journalists who contributed to the project were assistant foreign editor David Fogarty and executive photojournalist Mark Cheong, who were shocked to see the damage Australia's Great Barrier Reef has suffered from bleaching, where corals have turned white due to rising sea temperatures.

3. How far can your passport take you?

Lim Ling Li, Tin May Linn, Thong Yong Jun & Denise Chong - The Straits Times 

In 2018, the Singapore passport was ranked one of the most powerful in the world by the Henley Passport Index.

Through an interactive infographic, the ST team compared the travel documents of 199 countries, providing readers with a look at the global reach of different passports.

4. Cave rescue heroes

Calina Lim, Marlone Torres Rubio, Trixia Carungcong, David Fogarty & Lee Seok Hwai - The Straits Times 

Recapping the saga that started on June 23, 2018, the infographics detailed the journey of 12 Thai schoolboys and their football coach after they became trapped in a cave near the Thai-Myanmar border.

The risky route through which a group of divers and rescuers guided the 12 boys and their coach, who had no diving experience, was among the details captured.

5. Trump-Kim Summit Special: Road to Singapore

Nirmal Ghosh, Chang May Choon, Walter Sim, Goh Sui Noi, Tan Dawn Wei, Ling Chang Hong, Tay Hwee Peng, Charissa Yong, Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, Karamjit Kaur, Miel Prudencio Rosales Jr, Marlone Torres Rubio, Denise Chong & Desmond Foo - The Straits Times 

The special report in print provided readers with a look at the history between the two leaders, as well as the role that Singapore played in bringing US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim to our shores.

ST's digital team also produced videos, graphics, features and an interactive quiz leading up to the summit which took place on June 12, 2018.

6. 2018 Malaysia Elections Package

A Straits Times cross-media project with the Malaysia bureau

Malaysia's 14th general election in 2018 was a tense affair, as the Pakatan Harapan coalition led by 92-year-old Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad ended the Umno-led Barisan Nasional's six decades in power.

The cross-media project by ST and the Malaysia bureau led by bureau chief Shannon Teoh, which included interactives, videos and longform features, provided readers with a comprehensive look at the main election issues and the change of government.

7. Primary 1 registration: Is balloting likely at the school of your choice?

Thong Yong Jun, Amelia Teng, Lee Pei Jie, Rodolfo Carlos Pazos, Hannah Yan, Jocelyn Tan & Sandra Davie - The Straits Times 

The interactive package provided parents who were taking part in the stressful Primary 1 registration exercise with the background information they needed to pick a school for their child.

The infographics also included forecasts of schools that may be oversubscribed, based on data taken from the past six years.

8. Wary world watches as China plays peacemaker, Peace in sight?, Abe moves Japan out of harm's way

Manny Francisco, The Straits Times 

Among Mr Francisco's illustrations in 2018 was the Insight cover on Jun 10, as part of a package ahead of the Trump-Kim summit.

His illustration encapsulated the anticipation of a peace agreement between the two leaders, complementing the feature which looked at the history of the Korean War and the possibility of a peace deal.

9.  MOH puts a stop to foreign patient referral contracts

Joyce Lim, The Straits Times 


ST senior correspondent Joyce Lim's story broke the news that the Health Ministry has told public hospitals to terminate all contracts with foreign agents who refer patients from overseas. PHOTO: ST FILE

The senior correspondent's story broke the news that the Health Ministry has told public hospitals to terminate all contracts with foreign agents who refer patients from overseas.

Her article described how agents from Indonesia and Vietnam had arrangements with several local public hospitals. One of the agents was paid 8 per cent of the patient's hospital bill for every foreign patient accepted by NUH.

10.  Transforming China - 40 years of reform and opening up

Goh Sui Noi, Danson Cheong, Chong Koh Ping & Lim Yan Liang - The Straits Times 

The feature stories documented the developments that China had gone through since embarking on reform and opening up to the outside world in 1978, under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping.

ST's correspondents in China highlighted the key policy changes that the world's second-largest economy undertook and the transformation of the country over the past 40 years, including the rapid changes which took place in Shenzhen.

11. Singapore Love Story

Mohamed Fairoze, Tamil Murasu 


Tamil Murasu journalist Mohamed Fairoze with ST Associate Editor Vikram Khanna (left) and Tamil Murasu editor Jawharilal Rajendran at the awards ceremony. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Mr Fairoze's feature on Mr Koh Leng Kiat and Madam Meena Jaganathan's love story, which transcended language and cultural barriers, was one of the most heartwarming reads of 2018.

The couple's biological children and Indian stepchildren grew up using a variety of languages to communicate - Madam Meena would speak with Mr Koh in Tamil, who understood the language but could not converse in it, while he would speak to her and their children in Malay.

Despite having little knowledge of how to conduct a traditional Taoist funeral, Mr Koh's stepchildren and biological children did so according to his wishes when he died last March.

12. Given a second chance, die-hard Vard shareholders must come out to vote

Noble - too much faith in a clean audit?

Angela Tan, The Business Times


The Business Times journalist Angela Tan provided insight into the controversies surrounding two firms - Noble Group and Vard Holdings - in two of her stories last year. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

In two of her stories last year, Ms Tan provided insight into the controversies surrounding two firms - Noble Group and Vard Holdings.

In her commentary on Singapore authorities' probe into Noble Group following reports of accounting irregularities, she suggested that the saga surrounding the Hong Kong-based commodities trader should start a serious debate on holding auditors more accountable for their work.

13. Stories on family and sacrifice

Haryani Ismail & Nur Humaira Sajat, Berita Harian

The duo produced heart-warming cross-media stories centred on family, including a feature on a couple who got married when they were 70.


One of the stories by Berita Harian's Haryani Ismail and Nur Humaira Sajat featured a couple who got married when they were 70. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

The pair had met when they were in their teens, but romance did not blossom in their youth. As luck would have it, their paths crossed again when they were 70, after both their respective spouses had died, and the couple tied the knot.