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Four pupils top 109 others in The Big Spell zonal rounds

They will enter the finals on April 25, together with other pupils with the best zonal scores

Singapore, March 28, 2015 - None of the 113 pupils from 42 primary schools would give up easily without a fight.

In four simultaneous zonal rounds this morning, the pupils battled it out to make it to the final of the RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship 2015, attempting to outspell one another for a coveted spot.

Unlike the preliminary round, in which 1,654 pupils sat a written test at Suntec Singapore, zonal competitors had to verbally spell rounds of tough words on stage -- facing an audience and a judging panel -- each having to overcome nerves as they took turns to respond to words uttered by official pronouncers.

They breezed through words such as “capillaries”, “versatile” and “taxidermist”, but kept their supporters on tenterhooks, gasping or murmuring at words such as “onomatopoeia” and “spelunker”. Four zonal champions emerged from the nail-biting battle: 
  • North zone (held at Woodlands Regional Library): Sng Hwee Woon, 11, Primary 6, CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School
  • South zone (held at SPH Media Centre): Goh Shen Ee Matthew, 11, Primary 6, Anglo-Chinese School (Primary)
  • East zone (held at Tampines Regional Library): Selina Peh Yuet Ning, 11, Primary 6, St Hilda’s Primary School
  • West zone (held at SPH News Centre): Jerome Thomas Ng Tze Loong, 10, Primary 5, Henry Park Primary School

Each is guaranteed a place in the grand final on April 25; they also won $500, and additional $100 in book vouchers, along with a certificate.

All other participants will be nationally ranked, and the top 20 or so bound for the grand final.

The championship is co-organised by RHB Banking Group and The Straits Times, in partnership with the Ministry of Education. It is supported by the Institute of Technical Education College Central and National Library Board; Sports Hub Library and Suntec Singapore are the venue partners.

At the start of this year's zonal round, competitors, officials and audience observed a minute of silence simultaneously in each of the four venues, as a mark of respect for Singapore’s founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who died on March 23. A video montage celebrating his life and achievements was also played. 

Ms Serene Goh, Editor of IN and Little Red Dot, The Straits Times' weekly publications for schools, said: “This year's zonal competitors can be proud for beating a greater number participants than ever for their spot on stage. We're seeing a spread of higher-skilled spellers across the board, not just a concentration of one or two from specific schools, so the fights were intense.”

She added: “As a mind sport, The Big Spell stands for diligence, honour, resilience and excellence -- attributes that Mr Lee Kuan Yew himself stood for throughout his life. On Saturday, in four zones across the island, we simultaneously observed a moment of silence to remember not only his legacy, but the positive values he stood for.”

Mr Jason Wong, country head of RHB Bank Berhad Singapore, said: “I am very proud of all the students who managed to gain an entry to the Zonal Rounds from a pool of more than 1,650 participants this year. Ultimately what I hope they can really take away from this competition is to learn to enjoy the journey, gain the experience and recognize that on top of hard work, sometimes luck plays a part in life too.

“As long as they have tried their best, they do not need to feel disappointed over the results. Try again next year!”

The zonal champions, along with other finalists with the best zonal scores, will fight for spelling supremacy in the final round on April 25 at ITE College Central. Minister of Culture, Community and Youth, Mr Lawrence Wong, will be the Guest-of-Honour at the finals. Mr Wong is also Second Minister for Communications and Information.

The champion speller on April 25 will take home $5,000 cash and win the Challenge Trophy for his or her school . The first and second runners-up will win $3,000 and $1,000 cash respectively. All finalists will each receive a medal.

The organisers hope the competition will develop a greater appreciation of the importance of spelling in literacy development among primary school pupils, as well as help to promote a healthy competitive spirit.

To follow the NSC, go to

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About The Straits Times

The Straits Times is the English-language flagship daily of Singapore Press Holdings and the most-read newspaper in Singapore. It was launched on July 15, 1845, and provides comprehensive coverage of local, regional and international news. It has 20 bureaus in major cities worldwide, with its correspondents providing a Singapore perspective on what is happening around the world. Complementing the main title are weekly lifestyle supplements Digital Life, Urban and Mind Your Body, as well as IN and Little Red Dot for students. 

The Straits Times is also on digital platforms with its website at It also has ioS and Android apps, and a menu of e-books housed in a separate Straits Times Star app.

The Straits Times has won multiple international awards, including from the Society of Publishers in Asia, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, the Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers' Association (Panpa) and Society of News Design. It was named Singapore Newspaper of the Year 2014 and 2013 by Marketing magazine and voted Singapore’s favourite newspaper 2013 by Superbrands.

Its website won gold in “Best In Online Media” at the 2012 Wan-Ifra Asian Digital Media Awards. Its Communities microsites platform was named 2014 Digital Innovation of the Year award by Panpa, and got Gold in the Best in Social Media category at the 2013 Wan-Ifra Asian Digital Media Awards.

About RHB Bank Singapore

RHB Bank was first established in 1961 as United Malayan Banking Corporation Berhad. Through a series of rapid expansion and strategic mergers, RHB Bank Singapore emerged as a full-licensed bank with a network of 7 branches and operating 13 Bureau de Change outlets in Singapore Changi Airport. The Bank provides a comprehensive range of financial products and services to consumer, corporate and business clients, ranging from various types of deposits and loans, treasury to investment banking.

RHB Bank Singapore is the first full bank to be conferred the prestigious S-Class (Service Class) award by SPRING Singapore as well as the first and only bank in Singapore and Malaysia to be awarded the prestigious “Best Customer Experience Management of the Year Award” in banking service by APCSC Hong Kong and most recently, awarded the SQC (Singapore Quality Class) by SPRING Singapore in June 2010.

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About Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

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

The English/Malay/Tamil Media group comprises the print and digital operations of The Straits Times, The Business Times, The New Paper, Berita Harian and My Paper (English section).  It also consists of Tamil Murasu Ltd, which publishes Tamil Murasu and tabla!;   book publishing arm Straits Times Press; SPH Data Services, which licenses the use of the Straits Times Index, in partnership with the Singapore Exchange and FTSE Ltd; financial data company ShareInvestor; and the two English stations of SPH Radio - Kiss92 and ONE FM 91.3. 

The Chinese Media group publishes three Chinese newspapers  - Lianhe Zaobao, Lianhe Wanbao and Shin Min Daily News; the digital editions of Lianhe Zaobao and Lianhe Wanbao, four student weeklies - zbCOMMA, Thumbs Up, Thumbs Up Junior and Thumbs Up Little Junior, ZbBz Newsgazine and My Paper (Chinese section).  It also operates SPH Radio's Chinese radio station, UFM 100.3, and Focus Publishing, which produces a range of books and magazines including U-Weekly. 

SPH Magazines, SPH's wholly-owned subsidiary, publishes and produces more than 100 magazine titles and has various online sites, like in Singapore and the region, covering a broad range of interests from lifestyle to information technology. 

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.

Other Businesses

Online Classified and New Media
SPH's online classified and new media initiatives include ST701, the leading online marketplace for jobs (STJobs), property (STProperty), cars (STCars) and general classifieds (STClassifieds), sgCarmart and Streetsine; Asiaone, Stomp, and SPH Razor. 

SPH's regional joint venture online classified business, 701Search, has a number of leading online classified sites in the region.

Events and Out-of-Home Advertising
Sphere Exhibits, Sphere Conferences, Exhibits Inc and Bizlink Exhibition Services organise innovative consumer and trade events and exhibitions as well as large scale conferences in Singapore and the region. SPH Buzz is a modern retail convenience chain with a network of stores around the island.

In addition, SPH also provides out-of-home (OOH) advertising through its digital out-of-home platform SPHMBO.

SPH has a 22 per cent stake in preschool and enrichment provider MindChamps.

SPH REIT is a Singapore-based REIT established to invest in a portfolio of income-producing real estate primarily for retail purposes.  SPH REIT comprises Paragon, a premier upscale retail mall and medical suite/office property in Orchard Road and The Clementi Mall, a mid-market suburban mall in the centre of Clementi town.

The Seletar Mall, located in Sengkang, is SPH's latest retail development. This property is a potential asset to be injected into SPH REIT. SPH’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Times Development Pte Ltd, also developed a 43-storey upmarket residential condominium, Sky@eleven, at Thomson Road.

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