Watching the events of 2017 unfold was almost like catching the latest blockbuster. Tales of espionage and sordid sexual escapades dominated headlines, while natural disasters impacted the world at a time when debate over climate change surged. In Malaysia, speculation over the next general election continued but to no avail. As 2017 draws to a close, we take a look at headlines that shaped the year, laying the foundation for what is to come in 2018.
On January 20, Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America, and what a turbulent year it has been since. As he so often reminds, his victory is one that represented a move against the establishment that, in his words, have dominated politics for far too long. Despite the fact that president has indeed survived a year, his presidency has been fraught with challenges. Approval for the wall along the Mexican border is still pending; the legality of his ban on Muslims into the United States was questioned; after declaring his support for Roy Moore, the controversial candidate lost his bid for the US Senate; his attempts to repeal Obamacare was unsuccessful and and his connections with Russia continue to loom over his presidency. His sole triumph – the tax reform bill. As it stands, President Trump is one of the most unpopular presidents in the modern era with approval ratings hovering around the 30% mark, just six months after taking office. In comparison, Presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush had popularity ratings of more than 50% during the same period.
June, the end of May:
Across the sea, British Prime Minister Theresa May emerged embattled after decisively calling for a snap election that left her in a severely weakened position, unable to form a majority in the British Parliament. Since then, her leadership has been compromised, leaving her in a precarious position, with many sceptical that she will serve out her time as prime minister. Though she had called for the election to ensure a stronger position to negotiate Brexit, it resulted in the opposite. Reports state that 40 Conservative Party MPs have signed a letter demanding that the prime minister face a no-confidence vote.
This was the year that women stood up and said no to sexual harassment. 2017 saw numerous allegations unfold, first in the tech industry, but it was revelations about harassment in Hollywood and subsequent attempts to cover it up that shocked the world. Actresses Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashley Judd were among those who accused Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein of harassment. That then led to several other allegations including comedian Louis CK, director Brett Ratner and news man Matt Lauer. Fans of Kevin Spacey took it particularly hard when it was exposed that he was indiscriminate when it came to coming on to people. Things worsened for the actor when he decided to come out following the accusations.
Mother Nature retaliates:
As politicians debated over climate change, Mother Nature had the final say on the matter when a multitude of natural disasters engulfed the world. Zimbabwe, China, Peru, Afghanistan, Mexico, Sri Lanka and Puerto Rico were hard hit. Hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria wreaked havoc along America. Malaysia was also not spared when flooding hit Penang hard. Close to 3,000 people were evacuated, while more were affected when Georgetown became submerged under 12ft of water.
The world mourns:
Fans grieved over the loss of two music icons—Chris Cornell, frontman for The Soundgarden, and Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington. Both took their own lives, which then sparked a worldwide discussion about depression. Just after performing a sold-out show in Detroit, Cornell was found hanging in the bathroom of his hotel. On what would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday, Bennington was found hanging in his LA home. 2017 also saw the loss of icon Hugh Hefner, whose death was perhaps overshadowed by the current issue of sexual harassment and his part in objectifying women. The world also lost the suave Roger Moore, who played James Bond and the very cool actor and playwright Sam Shepard.
Topping the list:
At a time when sentiment in Malaysia was at a low, plagued by depreciating ringgit and a challenging economy, the nation soared at the 2017 SEA Games bagging 145 gold, 92 silver and 86 bronze medals, making it Malaysia’s best-ever finish in the history of the games.
Tales of intrigue emerged with Malaysia at the centre following news that Kim Jong-nam, half-brother to Kim Jong-un, was murdered at KLIA2 in the most unusual of circumstances. Two women allegedly smeared his face with VX, a chemical classified by the United Nations as a weapon of mass destruction. The murder sparked worldwide attention on the Kim Jong-un’s dictatorial regime and the lengths he would go to retain power.
One for the centre:
French President Emmanuel Macron assumed office as the President of France. His win was celebrated the world over as it was seen not just as significant for France but for Europe as well. Macron triumphed over rival Marine Le Pen, a nationalist whose win would have led to “Frexit”, and the eventual demise of the European Union (EU).
The world reacted in shock as acts of terror dominated headlines in 2017. In March, four people were killed and several more injured when Khalid Masood crashed into pedestrians along Westminster Bridge, before stabbing a police officer. In April, Rakhmat Akilov drove a truck down a shopping street in Stockholm killing four and injuring 15. The same month, a shooting on the Champs-Élysée in Paris left one policeman dead and two others severely injured. Britain appeared the focal point for terrorism with attacks on London Bridge and Finsbury Park, but it was when kids became the victims of terrorism that left the world outraged. At an Arianne Grande’s concert in Manchester, 22 people were killed and 59 others injured when a suicide bomber detonated explosives as fans were leaving the concert.
In the early hours of the morning, a fire ravaged through a block of flats in London killing at least 80 people with over 70 injured. It took 250 firefighters and 70 fire engines to put out the fire which lasted 60 hours. A definitive death count is only expected in 2018. The fire left the UK shocked as the 24-storey public housing was located in posh North Kensington. The fire sparked a discussion about the inequalities between the rich and the poor in London.