The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year 2016

The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year 2016 award: Meet the first batch of nominees

First batch of nominees for ST Singaporean of the Year stand out for their benevolence, courage or dedication

Clockwise from top left: Doctors Chi Wei Ming, Tan May Yen and Lim Chien Chuan; security officer Peter Lim Kok Seng; Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling with his parents May and Colin; singer Nathan Hartono and Paralympic swimmers Yip Pin Xiu and Theresa Goh. ST PHOTOS: ONG WEE JIN, ALPHONSUS CHERN, LIM YAOHUI, DESMOND WEE

A man who donated part of his liver to a stranger, two Paralympians who scored a historic win in Rio, and three doctors who discovered a Zika outbreak in their community are among the first five groups of candidates shortlisted for The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year 2016 award.

The second run of the award, supported by UBS Singapore, seeks to recognise Singaporeans who have put the country on the world map, persevered through incredible adversity or otherwise made the community a better place through selfless acts.

Readers can go online to nominate individuals or groups for the award.

Nominations are open until the end of next month. Nominees must be Singapore citizens who have been in the news this year. A full shortlist will be released by a panel of 15 judges in January.


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Also shortlisted are Nathan Hartono, who was runner-up on popular Chinese variety show Sing! China, and May, Colin and Joseph Schooling, whose efforts earned Singapore its first Olympic gold.

The award will be given out in February.

The Singaporean Of The Year will receive $20,000 and a trophy, while the other groups of shortlisted candidates will each get $5,000, all sponsored by UBS.

After the shortlist of all the candidates has been released, there will be a public vote, which will be taken into account in the final decision by the judges.

The panel will comprise editors and senior writers from the ST newsroom and others, including social entrepreneur Saleemah Ismail, Lim Hoon Foundation chairman John Lim and Mr Aaron Maniam, founding chairman of the National Youth Council Academy's advisory panel.

Security officer gave new life to 16-year-old

After surgery, Mr Lim was on medical leave for six weeks without pay as he was a daily- rated employee. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Mr Peter Lim Kok Seng, 54, used to look forward to his weekly swim at Hougang or Serangoon Swimming Complex. Now, he cannot run after the bus or lift heavy things, and he is limited to a quick dip in the pool.

The muscles around his abdomen still feel weak after a 10-hour transplant surgery that took place at the National University Hospital on March 24.

Mr Lim had donated 60 per cent of his liver to a 16-year-old girl he had not met before. The procedure left an L-shaped scar, which is about 15cm by 15cm, on his lower abdomen. He is the first non-directed liver donor in Singapore's 26 years of carrying out liver transplants.


3 doctors first to sound the alert on Zika here

In August, (from left) Dr Chi, Dr Tan and Dr Lim at Sims Drive Medical Clinic noticed that they were seeing an average of 10 people every day who showed similar symptoms of rashes, joint pain and sore eye. Tests for dengue, chikungunya, measles and rubella all came back negative. On Aug 22, they turned to MOH for help in identifying the mystery virus. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

It was the second week of August when the three doctors at Sims Drive Medical Clinic became puzzled when they spotted a pattern emerging among patients.

Construction workers had come in with similar symptoms: rashes, joint pain and sore eyes. Then the symptoms showed up in other residents and office staff who had almost no contact with the workers.

Around 10 people a day were coming in with similar signs. But tests for dengue, chikungunya, measles and rubella all came back negative.


Inspiring Singaporeans to go for their dreams

Joseph Schooling with his proud parents May and Colin at Parliament House in August. The swimmer is the first athlete in Singapore to be honoured in Parliament.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Almost three months have passed since that historic victory at the Rio Olympics, but people still want a piece of the Schoolings.

"Everywhere we go, in the heartland, on the bus or in Orchard Road, people recognise us and ask us for pictures," said May, mother of swimmer Joseph, who became Singapore's first Olympic gold medallist when he won the 100m butterfly in August.

With their son back at the University of Texas at Austin where he studies and trains, the parents have had to get used to the limelight.


Paralympians' success sparked equality debate

Swimmers Yip Pin Xiu (far left) and Theresa Goh at a press conference in September. The duo produced Singapore's best performance at the Paralympics. Yip won two gold medals and set two world records in Rio, while Goh won a bronze medal. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

After four-time Paralympic swimmer Theresa Goh snagged her first medal at this year's Games in Rio, a photo of her sobbing into the shoulder of teammate Yip Pin Xiu in joy, posted on Yip's Instagram, became a hit online.

But the accompanying caption led to some misunderstanding.

Yip, writing about Goh, had said: "You are now a Paralympic medallist after 17 years of training and perseverance. Nobody knows our journey like us and I am so incredibly proud of you."


Overcame fear of failure to hit the high notes

Nathan Hartono says Sing! China has "opened up a whole new world" for him. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Jazz-pop singer and Sing! China star Nathan Hartono is working on an EP with Warner, which will be a mix of English and Mandarin songs.

He is also looking to be big beyond China where he has made a name for himself.

"My goal for music is to perform all over the world. Now that the market in China has opened up, it would be a pity if I didn't try anything there," said Hartono, who is mulling over various contract offers from China.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2016, with the headline The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year 2016 award: Meet the first batch of nominees . Subscribe