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Opinion\Op-Ed Contributors

Farewell to a year of chaos and sufferings

By Tan Dawn Wei | China Daily | Updated: 2017-01-03 08:03

Farewell to a year of chaos and sufferings

The year 2016 will be remembered for many things, not least of which is how the old world order got tossed out and a new world order got established. It will be remembered for Syria constantly hogging the headlines for bombardments, destruction and the death of thousands of civilians, while the world continued to go about its business as usual.

It will be remembered for how climate change fuelled one of the longest-lasting, strongest hurricanes of its kind-Hurricane Matthew that battered the United States and Haiti-and how reckless human activities continued to perpetuate the vicious circle, with tens of millions of people in northern China breathing in polluted air.

It will be remembered for a controversial figure who won a landslide presidential victory, and it is not Donald Trump.

It will be remembered for small-headed babies as the Zika virus continued to take hold of the world, from the Americas to Asia.

Elsewhere in Asia, it will be remembered for political and economic crises that saw the downfall of a country's first female president, and a cash crunch in the second-most-populous country in the world.

It will also be remembered for what could be a low in race relations in the US, as at least four high-profile shootings by police of black men sent protesters onto the streets across the country.

Most people, however, will remember 2016 as the year populism won-when people defiantly eschewed globalization and what it has to offer, in favor of greater sovereignty of their country.

The world watched in shock as Trump defied all polls and predictions to beat political old hand Hillary Clinton to the White House.

Months before, more than half of Britons voted in a referendum to leave the European Union after 43 years of membership.

Political turmoil also swept the Republic of Korea, as millions protested demanding that President Park Geun-hye resign over a corruption scandal.

India's troubles were over money-literally-after its citizens realized the 500-rupee ($7.35) and 1,000-rupee ($14.7) notes that were most prevalent in the cash-dominant nation had become useless when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that he was scrapping them from Nov 9 to stem corruption.

As Davao City mayor, Rodrigo Duterte rode to worldwide fame after Filipinos voted for him based on his campaign promise of tackling crime, specifically the illegal drug trade in the Philippines.

Thailand was sent into mourning after its revered monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, lost his battle to a long bout of ill health.

As these events continue to play out in the new year, the hope at least is that 2017 will be a better year for humankind.

The author is the assistant foreign editor of the Straits Times published in Singapore.

Courtesy: The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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