SINGAPORE - The organisers of The Straits Times (ST) Singaporean of the Year award had initially grappled with its purpose, said ST editor Warren Fernandez.
But the response to ST senior writer Wong Kim Hoh's acclaimed profile series, It Changed My Life - which tells the stories of "everyday people doing extraordinary things"- provided an answer.
"We decided that The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year should not be about simply picking a top newsmaker, businessman, social worker, or some other paragon of virtue or achievement," said Mr Fernandez at the awards ceremony at UBS Business University in Bukit Timah on Tuesday (Feb 2).
"Rather, we wanted the award to showcase the stories of Singaporeans, who by their actions, and lives, inspire all of us... They show us that it's not only those who perform heroic feats who can be heroes, that you don't have to be great or grand to do good. You might not be a saint, but you can still do your part to put things right."
Mr Fernandez also made a special mention of a group of good Samaritans who had rushed to help South Korean tourist Kim Sung Mo last July when he was trapped under a truck.
"Because this was a large group, we decided not to nominate them, but there's no doubt that their spontaneous and courageous response to help someone in urgent need made us all proud to be their fellowmen," he said.
The award is supported by the bank UBS Singapore. Mr Juerg Zeltner, president of UBS Wealth Management, said the award is part of its gift to Singapore for its Jubilee year.
"Singapore has come a long way over the last 50 years. Its remarkable progress would not have been possible without the support, commitment and dedication of ordinary people determined to make Singapore a better place.
"Their efforts are a testament to the power of the human spirit and its capacity to enhance the quality of life across communities."