2018 was an eventful year for Southeast Asia, with three elections, a dramatic rescue that caught the world’s attention and an historic summit in Singapore. But how much of it do you remember? Test your knowledge with our quiz of 2018
1. A huge Twitter storm erupted in April this year when Malaysian-born contestant Zaleha Kadir Olpin was eliminated from the UK television show Masterchef for her chicken rendang dish. Malaysians were angry with judge Greg Wallace’s criticism of the dish, but what did he say was wrong with the rendang?
Not crispy. The debacle united Malaysians in their defense of the contestant and her chicken rendang, and even Mahathir Mohamad, who would later be elected prime minister, weighed in with a comment to Wallace: “Maybe you are confusing rendang chicken with KFC,” Mahathir posted on his twitter account.
2. The Trump-Kim Summit that was held in Singapore in June was the …
First-ever meeting between the leaders of the two countries. With previous discussions of defusing tensions and nuclear disarmament, they signed a “comprehensive” document promising a new relationship between the nations.
3. Malaysia voted for historic change this year when Mahathir Mohamad claimed victory at the general election, ousting Najib Razak and the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition. Including its predecessor, BN was one of the world’s longest serving governments before its toppling this year, but how long did BN hold power for?
61 years. The coalition first gained power in 1957, initially under the name the Alliance Party, before being renamed Barisan Nasional in 1973.
4. This year the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) swept to overwhelming victory in the general election after a controversial buildup that saw main opposition party the Cambodia National Rescue Party dissolved. The CPP won all 125 seats, but what percentage of the votes did second place party FUNCINPEC win?
5.9%. Cambodia’s long-standing Prime Minister Hun Sen maintained that the election was free and fair: “You have truly chosen the path of democracy,” he stated in a message to Cambodians after the victory became apparent.
5. In July, a dam collapse in southern Laos killed at least 43 people, although that number is thought to be a lot higher. The story made news around the world as it shed light on the country’s obsessive dam building, but what was the name of the company responsible for the dam that collapsed?
Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy Power Company. Construction on the dam by Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy Power Company began in 2013, and was nearly completed before the fatal collapse. Investigations into the cause of the incident have stalled, and it seems unlikely that the truth will be brought to light any time soon.
6. 2018 has seen an intense spotlight shined on Myanmar and its treatment of the Rohingya, a minority ethnic group long persecuted in the country. Earlier this year, an English football team jumped under that spotlight when it announced its plans for a post-season tour in the country, drawing international criticism. But which team was it?
Leeds United. The club’s Italian businessman owner Andrea Radizzani defended the decision, saying in an interview with the Guardian, “This was a carefully considered decision and we knew it would be controversial but this is about people not governments. It has never been my intention, nor that of the club, to get involved in a political debate in Myanmar.”
7. Syrian Hassan al-Kontar made headlines this year for his seemingly interminable stay in Terminal 2 of Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The refugee found himself stranded there with no passport, no visa and nowhere to go. His stay in the airport amounted to 208 days before he managed to get asylum in Canada, but which A-list celebrity did he say he felt would understand his difficult situation?
Tom Hanks. Hanks starred in the movie The Terminal, which is about a man from the fictitious state of Krakozhia who gets stranded in New York Airport when war breaks out in his country. Hassan, who watched the film many times while living in the airport, said, “Tom Hanks knows what it’s like.”
8. Crazy Rich Asians made a splash when it hit the big screens this year, but who is the author of the book that the film is based on?
Kevin Kwan. The Singaporean-American author is best known for Crazy Rich Asian, China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems. Crazy Rich Asians was adapted into a movie in 2018 and had a glowing opening weekend haul of $25 million.
9. This year the world was captivated by the story of the “Thai cave boys”, which saw the daring rescue of 12 young footballers and their coach who became trapped in a cave after it flooded. How many days were they stuck for?
18. While the Thai Navy SEALs were responsible for pulling out the boys from the cave, this operation saw experts and volunteers from the UK, Belgium, Australia, Scandinavia, the US Air force rescue specialists as well as a response from entrepreneur Elon Musk.
10. The two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, have been imprisoned since December 2017. In september, they were sentenced to seven years in prison. Under what Act were they charged?
Official Secrets Act. It’s a law that dates back to 1923 when Myanmar (then known as Burma) was under British rule. The two journalists were found guilty under Section 3.1(c) of the act which covers obtaining secret official documentation that “might be or is intended to be, directly or indirectly, useful to an enemy”. Both journalists maintain they are innocent.
11. Thai billionaire and English football club owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha died in a helicopter accident in October. Which club was he the owner of?
Leicester City. After Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha took control of the club, Leicester became one of the league's teams to watch and even went on to become Premier League Champions in the 2015/16 season.
12. Nguyen Phu Trong was named as Vietnam’s new president in October after the death of Tran Dai Quang. This means that Trong now holds two of the “four pillars” of power in Vietnam. Which other position does he hold?
General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam. Nguyen Phu Trong is both president and general secretary, Nguyễn Xuân Phuc is prime minister and Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan is national assembly chair.
13. A British man travelling around Southeast Asia became the first person in the world to contract a super-resistant strain of a sexually transmitted disease. What was the disease?
Super gonorrhoea. Doctors eventually cured the man’s disease using an antibiotic called ertapanem.
14. “I think we will dig through this hole, but it will take a few years” - Mark Zuckerberg. What was the Facebook CEO talking about?
Hate speech in Myanmar. More than 1000 examples of posts, comments and pornographic images attacking the Rohingya and other Muslims in Myanmar have been found on Facebook.
15. Two world-famous beaches in Southeast Asia were closed off this year for environmental reasons. Which ones?
Boracay, Philippines & Koh Phi Phi, Thailand. Both countries consecutively closed off the islands earlier this year with Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte calling Boracay a “cesspool.”