19 bloggers honoured at annual awards

Young and old, they were feted for making an impact at the 6th S'pore Blog Awards
Poon Chian Hui Straits Times 7 Jul 13;

Mr Ivan Kwan’s post on what seemed to be an eviction notice to Pulau Ubin residents set the public abuzz. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LUI

When Mr Ivan Kwan conceived his now award-winning blog in 2008, it was out of a personal interest in nature and wildlife conservation.

The former research assistant never thought that his post in April on what seemed to be an eviction notice to Pulau Ubin residents would set the public abuzz.

It even got the Government to publicly apologise for the poorly- worded letter, which was really meant to inform 22 households that they had to pay rent to continue living on the island.

This helped Mr Kwan become one of 19 winners at the Singapore Blog Awards held yesterday at a River Valley Road venue.

"The post went viral, which was totally unexpected," said Mr Kwan, 31, who first learnt about the notice from a birdwatcher.

The Housing Board document had stated that the residents' homes were slated for "clearance", suggesting that they were to make way for an adventure park.

It also said that officers will determine the residents' "eligibility of resettlement benefits".

Puzzled, Mr Kwan posted pictures of the notice on his blog, The Lazy Lizard's Tales, along with a call to the authorities to clarify the issue. The possibility that the kampung houses were about to be lost drew strong public reactions.

"I was heartened to know that so many people treasure Pulau Ubin," said Mr Kwan, whose blog was judged the best among those dealing with environmental issues.

"Blogs have the ability to impact current affairs, because they have the power to reach hundreds, or even thousands of people."

The Singapore Blog Awards, which is in its sixth year, recognises people who devote their time and energy to setting up and running innovative and informative blogs.

Organised by Singapore Press Holdings' bilingual news and entertainment portal, omy.sg, it drew more than 1,500 blog registrations.

The winners included Ms Christina Gao's Travelgraphy for best photography blog and Ms Jasmine Koh for best lifestyle blog, Scissors Paper Stone. Ms Grace Tan's Working With Grace won best individual blog. The winners were chosen from a shortlist of 190 by a panel of judges and online votes.

One of the judges, blogger Walter Lim, said this year's contenders were of a higher quality, and were more diverse. Topics ranged from parenthood to poetry, said the corporate communications manager.

"There were also many nice personal stories," added Mr Lim, who hopes to see blogs on finance and health matters in the future.

"It is also fantastic to see older bloggers - it shows that the trend is quite mainstream, no longer confined to the younger generation."

The winner of the best food blog was Mr Tony Boey, 53, a full-time blogger who writes about where and what to eat in Johor Bahru.

"I wanted to have a bit of an adventure, to go to unfamiliar places," said the ex-civil servant, who set up Johor Kaki Food Guide in 2011. He drives to Malaysia almost every day, sampling food from street stalls to high-end restaurants.

So far, he has written about nearly 500 places. Among his top priorities now is to document as many retiring hawkers as he can.

Mr Boey said that being older than most local bloggers did not pose any barriers: "When I'm online, I actually forget my age."