2021 in review: 50 Good things that Malaysians can celebrate this year
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It's hard to believe that 2021 is finally coming to a close. After starting out the year full of hope only for it to be crushed by the worst of the pandemic (no thank you, Delta and Omicron)—on top of political volatility (cue a new Malaysian prime minister), economic and mental health struggles, and the recent floods—2021 will go down in our history books as one of the most excruciating years of this century for Malaysians...
But perseverance and resilience were common themes throughout. Malaysians have demonstrated unity time and time again amidst waves of hardships, as evidenced by the #KitaJagaKita and #RakyatJagaRakyat movements.
As we inch closer to 2022, take a moment to look back on all the silver linings that Malaysians can celebrate this year. Swipe on to read.
1 February 2021: Former world champion squash player Datuk Nicol David is crowned the World Games Greatest Athlete of All Time after winning the contest with 318,943 votes in an online poll.
25 February 2021: A family in Kuala Lumpur starts a charity kiosk to help provide essentials to Malaysians in need. After sharing the news on Twitter, more Malaysians supported their cause by contributing donations.
10 March 2021: Google Doodle honours the late Malaysian epidemiologist Dr Wu Lien-Teh, who invented the precursor of today's N95 surgical mask, on his 142nd birthday today.
15 April 2021: Malaysian contemporary artist Red Hong Yi makes her TIME Magazine cover debut with a stunning artwork that saw the burning of 50,000 green-tipped matchsticks to "light" awareness on climate change.
6 May 2021: Perak-born 15-year-old Karthikgesan Santharasekaran wins two gold medals at the virtual Global Olimpiad Green Innovation Fair for his biodegradable plant pots, made out of eco-friendly compost.
11 May 2021: 36 Indian classical dancers from Sri Rathakrishanan Music & Arts Centre dance their way into the Malaysia Book of Records (MBR) for the 'Longest Non-stop Traditional Dance Relay" and 'Most Number of All Women Participants in a 24-Hour Barathanatyam Relay'.
14 May 2021: Francisca Luhong James represents Malaysia as the "first native" at the 69th Miss Universe Pageant, donning a 'Kampungku' (translation: 'My Village) costume by Carven Ong for the National Costume category.
29 May 2021: Malaysian BTS fans band together to donate over 200 McDonald's BTS meals to frontliners at University Malaya Medical Centre.
31 May 2021: Three PDRM officers in Johor help to fund the surgery of a stray dog that keeps them company at a roadblock. It survived a broken leg and serious injuries in its stomach thanks to the kind act of the police officers who rushed the dog to an animal clinic to save its life.
28 June 2021: Sarawakian artist Alena Murang wins two Silver Awards (Best Music Award and Best Concept) at the Global Music Awards 2021 for her song, Warrior Spirit.
These two overlapping movements show how Malaysians have each other's backs in hard times, regardless of race, religion, or background. Read more on the #RakyatJagaRakyat initiatives to support here.
3 July 2021: Singer-songwriter Daiyan Trisha volunteers at a PPV centre, sharing that "Malaysians are actually very kind" as many youths offered their time to lend a hand too.
5 July 2021: In response to the #BenderaPutih movement, three students- Cornelius, Shaun, and Sidharrth-aged between 18 and 21, developed an app for the public to give or receive food and/or monetary aid.
6 July 2021: Several Food Panda riders and a postman came to the aid of a pregnant woman whose four-wheel drive had a flat tyre. They spent over 30 minutes to replace it out of goodwill, without being asked to.
8 July 2021: A man in Penang goes viral for showing up for his vaccination at Universiti Sains Malaya wearing a plastic bag over his head. But he left the PPV centre touching many hearts, after he handed a stack of RM50 notes to the secretariat on duty, saying, "The frontliners have been working very hard. Please buy them lunch."
12 July 2021: Fashion designer Neng Kho Razali partners with Grab to convert 200 used GrabFood delivery bags into 400 items such as school bags, pencil cases, fanny packs, and more, which were donated to orphanages, schools, and Grab's driver-partners.
13 July 2021: Frontliners break out in dance and song after a two-week EMCO ended at the Sri Ayu flats in Bandar Baru Bangi in Selangor, bringing cheer to the local residents.
21 July 2021: Johor's Desaru Coast is named in Time Magazine's Greatest Places in the World 2021 list, highlighting the 17-kilometre stretch of pristine beach as one of the world's up-and-coming travel destinations.
28 July 2021: Malaysia records among the highest vaccination rates in the world, peaking at 582,112 doses administered on 28 July 2021. As of 27 December 2021, about 78.3 per cent of the Malaysian population has been fully vaccinated.
31 July 2021: Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik bag Malaysia's first bronze medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, beating Indonesian top seeds Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan.
5 August 2021: Legendary national football player Soh Chin Ann was named the most "capped player in international football" by the elite FIFA Century Club, with 195 international matches to his name over a 15-year career!
6 August 2021: Fakhirah Khairuddin, an alumna of MARA Junior Science College (MRSM), earns the praise of netizens for landing a role as a technical training robotics engineering instructor at Tesla.
8 August 2021: Cyclist Dato' Azizulhasni Awang wins silver in the men's keirin cycling final—the second medal for Malaysia at the Tokyo Olympics.
ICYMI: Catch up on all the highlights of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics here
16 August 2021: An anonymous good Samaritan built a kampung-style house for a stray cat, complete with an address so the public can "post" food to feed the adorable black and white feline.
A story of how a mother (Wanderlust + Co founder Jenn Low) and daughter duo's weekend project evolved into a public fundraiser to spread happiness while providing essentials to the less fortunate.
21 August 2021: Katun sells two of his NFT collections for over RM1.6 million in 24 hours—the most expensive batch of NFTs sold in one release by a Malaysian artist so far.
24 August 2021: After losing a family member to Covid-19, Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna has partnered with Malaysian Red Crescent Society (MCRS) to help launch Oxydrive, an awareness campaign to raise funds to provide oxymeters to vulnerable communities.
28 August 2021: Bonnie Bunyau Gustin gives Malaysia an early Merdeka gift by smashing the Paralympic Record in the men's -72kg para powerlifting event en route to winning gold. The prize was also personal—his father, Gustin Jenang was a former national powerlifter who had the same dream—and Bonnie has him to thank for achieving it.
30 August 2021: Jong Yie Khie wins the nation's second Paralympic medal, a silver, in the men's -107kg category. In an interview, a teary Jong dedicated the win to his late mother, who passed away from a heart attack in October 2020.
1 September 2021: The Free Makan project by BAC provided over two million meals to 85,000 people across Malaysia, thanks to generous contributions from individuals and other businesses.
9 September 2021: Three visually impaired students from Kota Kinabalu, who call themselves 'The Trio', clinch the first prize at the International Youth Music Competitions (IYMC) under the Folk, Traditional and World Music category.
9 September 2021: Contemporary artist Red Hong Yi collaborates with Pos Malaysia to present a series of stamps that pay homage to our country's frontliners. The special edition stamp collection includes four sketched designs featuring frontliners from the Ministry of Health (MOH), Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), and Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM), who have worked around the clock to provide care and support to Malaysians.
11 September 2021: At just 20 months old, Kaarthikeya Desigan has bagged two Malaysia Book of Records titles, namely the "Youngest to Speak Expressive Vocabulary" and "Most Number of Expressive Vocabulary in Five Minutes By A Toddler". According to The Star, the toddler has 200 books in his collection and could speak 300 words by the time he was 18 months old.
21 September 2021: Girl group Dolla graces the Times Square billboard as part of Spotify's Equal Singapore and Malaysia campaign, which aims to foster equity for women in audio and nurturing equity by highlighting female artistes around the world." They are only the third Malaysian act to be featured on the iconic billboard.
25 September 2021: 11-year-old student Maryam Musamir wins three international awards recently for her breakthough invention—a new form of livestock feed made from crustacean shells. The Pahangite's remarkable achievement was also highlighted on the famed US talk show, The Late Late Show with James Cordon.
6 October 2021: Four Malaysian women have emerged as winners of Britain's Women of the Future Awards (South-East Asia) 2021. The winners are Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) astrophysicist Assoc Prof Dr Nur Adlyka Ainul Anuar (Science, Technology & Digital); Asia Green Group executive director Mei Tan (Property, Infrastructure & Construction); Tickled Media general manager Sarah Voon (Business); and Rev Media Group lead producer Nandini Balakrishnan (Arts & Culture).
15 October 2021: Eight-year-old Johorean Krishh Haran Nair wrote and published a 14-page book, with proceeds from its sales used to buy basic essentials for charity. His noble acts earned the applaud of many, including Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar.
19 October 2021: Malacca is listed as one of the world's top 8 trending travel destinations to visit in 2022, based on Booking.com's annual Travel Predictions Research. The list is a result of a poll conducted among a sample of 24,055 respondents across 31 countries and territories.
20 October 2021: A Malaysian professor, Vincent J. Gnanapragasam, is appointed professor of urology at the University of Cambridge-the first in this field in the institution's 812 years of history.
21 October 2021: A team of law students from University Malaya win the Best Paper award at the International Youth Legal Exchange Conference 2021 in Hong Kong, beating participants from 11 countries with their paper presentation on Malaysia's unique dual legal system—Civil Law and Syariah Law.
24 October 2021: Primary school teacher Tessie Rijem earns the Global Teacher Award (GTA) 2021 for her innovative project-based methods of teaching English to rural students in Sarawak, such as English singing competitions, outdoor activities, and virtual karaoke sessions. She is the first Sarawakian to earn the award, organised by New Delhi-based AKS Education Awards.
28 October 2021: Malaysian gynaecologist John Tang has created what he says is the 'world's first unisex condom' that can be worn by females or males due to its unique adhesive covering.
19 November 2021: Professor Datin Paduka Dr Khatijah Mohamad Yusof, a Malaysian virologist and microbiologist received her very own short story in a special edition of DC Comic's 'Wonder Woman'. The story was illustrated by another Malaysian—Sarawakian artist Nur Hanie Mohd.
21 November 2021: Young national figure skating prodigy, C. Sree Abiraame, put on a magical show to take the crown at the Tallin Trophy 2021 in Estonia.
23 November 2021: Charles S. Vairappan, Professor of Natural Products Chemistry at the Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), is awarded the Japanese Foreign Minister's Commendation Award for his continuous efforts in promoting education and research collaboration between the two countries.
30 November 2021: Miss Grand Malaysia 2021 Lishalliny Kanaran wins the Best National Costume Award at the Miss Grand International show in Thailand. Designed by local bridal boutique, Aldrin's Artistry, her costume is inspired by an old folk song and dance from Terengganu called the Seven Ancient Princesses of Ulek Mayang.
6 December 2021: Penangite Dr Cheah Phaik Yeong is conferred the title of Professor of Global Health at the University of Oxford. In her new role, she will lead research on the health of populations in the worldwide context, with the priority of improving well-being and equity in health.
14 December 2021: Penang ranks third after Spain's Malta and Mallorca on the list of '15 best islands in the world to retire on' by International Living, a website that covers global retirement and relocation opportunities.
19 December: After working for decades at the Pulau TIkus market, three veteran traders—satay sellers Hamzah Ali (71) and Foo Chee Keong (67), along with lok-lok seller Hung Heng Seong (70)—now gain much deserved recognition in a mural at the entrance of the market.
19 December: Malaysians have once again risen to the occasion to help fellow Malaysians through the Peer-to-Peer (P2P) charity platform, kitajaga.co which introduced 'Banjir Mode' on their app to provide aid to those who have been affected by the floods.
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