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Lianhe Zaobao readers pick the Chinese character which best represents 2012

Singapore, 10 December 2012 --- After three weeks of voting, the eagerly awaited results of Lianhe Zaobao's "Character of the Year" readers' poll is finally out. "色", a Chinese character of varied meanings, has ousted nine other characters as the readers' choice for 2012. 

    With a series of high-profile sex scandals involving sex-for-contracts, sex-for-grades and paid sex with an underage prostitute in the past year, 2012 was perceived as a year of "lust", a common interpretation of the Chinese character "色".

    However, the meaning of "色" goes beyond "the birds and the bees", and encompasses wide-ranging connotations from 颜色 (colours) to 脸色 (facial expressions), exemplifying the richness and multi-faceted nature of the Chinese language.

    Lianhe Zaobao, the Chinese flagship daily of media group Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), is organising this annual poll for the second year. Last year, readers picked 涨(Rise)as the Chinese character of 2011 as issues of inflation, rising property prices and cost of living became the talk of the town.

    This year, the editorial team of Lianhe Zaobao, together with a panel of professionals comprising experts and academics of different fields, short-listed 10 Chinese characters for the poll. They include 改 (Change), 融 (Integrate), 怒 (Fury), 责 (Reproach), 育 (Educate), 色(Lust), 家 (Home), 缓 (Slow), 争 (Compete) and 德 (Virtue).

    Readers were invited to vote for their favourite character from 19 November to 7 December. During this time, Lianhe Zaobao featured each Chinese character in a full page report for 10 consecutive days. Each article expounded on the various definitions of the character and how its meanings were linked to the major local and international events of the year. 

    To engage readers and the society more effectively, Lianhe Zaobao partnered SPH's radio station UFM 100.3 for this year's poll. Hence, the poll garnered votes from readers as well as radio listeners. 

    The poll attracted more than 3000 votes and out of the valid votes, the character "色" garnered the most support through votes cast via SMS, Facebook and voting forms published in Lianhe Zaobao, emerging as the overall winner. The character "改" (Change) came in second and the third position went to "德" (Virtue) . 

    Majority of the votes were cast through SMS. Interestingly,"德" and "改" ranked second and third respectively from SMS votes and voting forms, while "改" received more votes than "德" from Facebook users who are mostly younger .

    Mr Goh Sin Teck, Editor of Lianhe Zaobao, said:"'Character of the Year' is not only a voting event. It's a time for readers to reflect on happenings that have made the news headlines in the past year. If I had a choice, I wouldn't have chosen "色" to characterise 2012, as this highlights the many news-makers who have fallen prey to lust, and that too many events have been tainted by it. Is this purely a string of coincidences or is this a revelation of how our society has evolved? Through this process of self-reflection, we should ask ourselves what we ought to do and what we can do. In doing so, we would not only have reminisced 2012 but will also be looking forward, thinking about what we want to make of 2013 and beyond."

    Character of the Year is also tagged to a charity event called Zaobao Charity Drive. Six readers of Lianhe Zaobao and listeners of UFM 100.3 who have cast votes at the poll will get to bring along a partner to take part in voluntary work for a day. Together with more than 40 journalists from Lianhe Zaobao and two DJs from UFM 100.3 , they will bring 125 under-privileged children to visit the adorable giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia at River Safari on 23 December (Sunday). These children are beneficiaries of the Singapore Children Society and Chinese Development Assistance Council.

    Staff from the Lianhe Zaobao newsroom have also pooled together donations amounting to $10,350 to fund the event, and each child will also be given a stationery gift hamper during the visit. 

    Mr Goh said: "The targeted beneficiaries of our charity drive last year were the elderly who live in rental flats. This year, with the collective help of readers and partners, we would like to bring warmth and hope to under-privileged children. Our wish for them is to have a childhood filled with happiness and love, so that they will grow up knowing that there are many who care for them."

Issued by Singapore Press Holdings Ltd
Co. Regn. No. 198402868E 

For more information, please contact:

Ms Han Yong May
News Editor, Lianhe Zaobao
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
DID - 6319 1979

Mr Francis Mah
Senior Manager
Corporate Communications
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
DID - 6319 1028

About Singapore Press Holdings Ltd 

Incorporated in 1984, main board-listed Singapore Press Holdings Ltd (SPH) is Southeast Asia’s leading media organisation, engaging minds and enriching lives across multiple languages and platforms.

Newspapers, Magazines and Book Publishing 

In Singapore, SPH publishes 18 newspaper titles in four languages. On an average day, 2.92 million individuals or 74 per cent of people above 15 years old, read one of SPH's news publications. SPH also publishes and produces more than 100 magazine titles in Singapore and the region, covering a broad range of interests from lifestyle to information technology. SPH's subsidiaries, Straits Times Press and Focus Publishing, produce quality books and periodicals in English and Chinese.

Internet and Mobile

Beyond print, the Internet editions of SPH newspapers enjoy over 270 million page views with 18 million unique visitors every month. Apart from AsiaOne, SPH’s online and new media initiatives include ST701, the leading online marketplace for jobs (STJobs), property (STProperty), cars (STCars) and general classifieds (STClassifieds); Stomp, and The Straits Times RazorTV. SPH also launched The Straits Times’ iPad and enhanced iPhone applications, an Android smartphone application and The Business Times’ iPhone application. SPH’s Chinese flagship newspaper Lianhe Zaobao has also launched its digital editions which include a web application, as well as online and PDF versions.


In the radio business, SPH has an 80 per cent stake in SPH UnionWorks Pte Ltd, which operates entertainment stations UFM 100.3 in Mandarin, as well as Kiss92 and HOT FM91.3 in English. SPH has a 20 per cent stake in MediaCorp TV Holdings Pte Ltd, which operates free-to-air channels 5, 8 and U, and a 40 per cent stake in MediaCorp Press Limited, which publishes the free newspaper, Today. 

Events and Out-of-Home Advertising

SPH’s events arm Sphere Exhibits organises innovative consumer and trade events and exhibitions as well as large scale conferences in Singapore and the region. In addition, SPH has ventured into out-of-home (OOH) advertising through its digital out-of-home platform SPH MediaBoxOffice.


SPH owns and manages Paragon, the prime retail and office complex in the heart of Orchard Road, Singapore's main shopping belt. Its second retail development, The Clementi Mall, started business operations in 2011. SPH's wholly-owned subsidiary, Times Development Pte Ltd, has also developed a 43-storey upmarket residential condominium, Sky@eleven, at Thomson Road. SPH‘s latest retail development project, The Seletar Mall, is slated for completion by end 2014.