Haze, Hong Kong top Google searches in Singapore

Haze, Hong Kong top Google searches in Singapore

Local woman's campaign against university peeping toms also ranked high

Singaporeans sit next to a  pool as the central business district is shrouded by haze in September this year. The haze was among the top five searches on Google in the city-state. (AP photo)
Singaporeans sit next to a pool as the central business district is shrouded by haze in September this year. The haze was among the top five searches on Google in the city-state. (AP photo)

SINGAPORE: They looked up when the air smelled bad, looked on in dismay at what was unfolding in Hong Kong, looked at the cinema screens as well as their mobile phone screens. Most of all, they looked for all these on Google.

This year, the haze, the Hong Kong protests, Avengers: Endgame and iPhone 11 were among the top five searches on Google for Singaporeans — with the haze in September as the most-searched item, according to TODAY.

On Thursday, the world's biggest search engine released the data showing the top trending searches among Singaporeans — across a wide variety of categories including home news, international news, entertainment and gadgets. 

Concern over the haze, caued mainly by forest fires for land clearance in Indonesia, was high. For the first time in three years the smog breached unhealthy levels in September. The Hong Kong protests, which have been raging on since June, were the second most-searched item on Google. 

The protests started peacefully over an extradition bill — which has now been shelved — but gradually turned violent and evolved into greater calls for democracy and freedom.

Entertainment and sports content was also popular, with Hollywood blockbusters Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel, as well as the Cricket World Cup and the Wimbledon and the Australian Open tennis tournaments taking up positions for the rest of the top 10 most-searched items among Singaporeans. 

For news specific to Singapore, what grabbed the attention of online users was Monica Baey and her efforts to seek justice against and protection from peeping toms who film people showering in university residential halls. 

Baey, 23, sparked a national debate when she took to Instagram in April to say that fellow student Nicholas Lim had been issued only a conditional warning from the police and a one-semester suspension after filming her in the shower at Eusoff Hall in the National University of Singapore last November.

The matter was talked about in Parliament, and universities here had to review their security and disciplinary protocols following the case. Other similar violations and offences kept cropping up throughout the year and received constant media coverage, further fuelling interest on the issue.

When it came to Singaporeans’ favourite activities, shopping still reigns. The opening of malls such as Jewel Changi in April and Funan Mall in June were in the top 10 searches under the category of Singapore news.

Earlier in the year, during the Chinese New Year period, Singaporeans looked to the lottery in the hopes of getting a windfall. The S$12-million Toto Hong Bao Draw by Singapore Pools was the third most-searched item for Singapore news. 

And when it came to the top trending internet lingo, “I love you 3000” was the winner. This is tied to Avengers: Endgame and the Marvel comic-book and movie fans who started using the line from the movie.

It came from the scene where Iron Man, alias Tony Stark, tucked his daughter into bed and told her he loved her “tons” and she replied, "I love you 3,000". 

Fans considered it one of the movie’s best moments and also wildly speculated online if there were hidden messages behind the use of “3,000”. In the end, it was just actor Robert Downey Jr adding the line to the script because it was said by one of his children in real life.

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