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Influential People

Pauline Wong
Pauline Wong12/27/2019 06:00 AM GMT+08  • 3 min read
Influential People
SINGAPORE (DEC 27): These individuals left their impact on the world in 2019.
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SINGAPORE (DEC 27): These individuals left their impact on the world in 2019.

Joseph Schooling

Singapore’s first-ever Olympic gold medalist Joseph Schooling made headlines this year when he debuted a new heavier physique but still swam his way to gold at the recent Southeast Asian Games in the 100m butterfly swimming event. While the internet exploded over his “chonky dad-bod”, there is no denying he has been, and will continue to be, a role model to young athletes everywhere.

Greta Thunberg

The 16-year-old became a viral meme when her tear-stained face and trembling voice were caught on video, admonishing world leaders at the United Nations climate summit for their inaction towards climate change. “How dare you!” has now become the rallying cry for boat- travelling, train-taking environmentalist teens worldwide. While divisive — some argue that her confrontational and emotional approach harms more than helps — there is no denying she has left an impact throughout the year.

Jacinda Ardern

In a year marked by boorish politicians, New Zealand’s 39-year-old prime minister is a breath of fresh air. When the nation was rocked by a mass shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, her compassionate reaction, genuine grief and shock at the tragedy drew praise from all over the world. She also marked a victory for working mothers everywhere when she gave birth while in office, and even brought her three-month-old baby to the United Nations General Assembly last year.

Michelle Obama

As the former first lady of the US, Michelle Obama had her role set out: the silent, strong and loyal partner to the commander-in-chief of the biggest economy in the world, expected to do nothing more than support her husband. However, she defied expectations and became a vocal advocate for poverty eradication, women’s rights, education and equality — all while raising two daughters. Now a prominent speaker and author, she has continued her advocacy work and 2019 was her year.

Hong Kong protestors

Not so much an individual but a collective, the Hong Kong protestors have certainly made the headlines and rocked the small island state to the core. Even if one did not agree with the violence in which the democracy protests eventually devolved into, one cannot deny that they made a huge impact in getting an unpopular and undemocratic extradition bill scrapped by embattled leader Carrie Lam.

Donald Trump

While we realise this choice may make some balk at the thought of the almost-cartoonish, brash president of the US making any sort of “impactful” list, there is no denying the impression he has left on the world and country this year. Can we argue that it was not a good one? Sure, but he set the tone for the rest of the world in 2019, and has dominated headlines like no other president had before. Having been impeached on Dec 19, he is as embattled as he is influential, and we would not be able to avoid his “yuge” influence for at least another year.

Mahathir Mohamad

Even as the world’s youngest prime minister ever, Finland’s Sanna Marin, aged 34, made headlines, so did the world’s oldest (and twice-appointed), Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Ever the consummate statesman, Mahathir has been stringing everyone along over who will replace him once he steps down (the man is 93, after all) and re-establishing himself as the top dog in Malaysia.

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