Malaysia’s Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad made headlines and became the epitome of “age is not a factor” when he became the world’s oldest prime minister at the age 93. He will also go down in history as the fourth prime minister who reprised his role as the seventh prime minister of Malaysia after winning GE14.
He is the face of Malaysia Baru, inspiring many that it is never too late for change. With a political career spanning 70 years, the once Umno president later formed Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia in 2016. He has held numerous minister positions – Education, Trade and Industry, Defence, Home Affairs, and Finance.
Among his promises post-GE14 were to “restore the rule of law”, and make elaborate and transparent investigations on the 1MDB scandal.
At the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September, former Australian premier Kevin Rudd bestowed Dr Mahathir with the title “patron saint of political comebacks” and a member of the audience dubbed him as “elder statesman of Asia … actually, the elder statesman of the planet”.
The outspoken and witty prime minister has said that he will give way to Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim after two years.
Dr Maszlee Malik
First-time politician Dr Maszlee Malik made ripples when he was made head of the biggest ministry in Malaysia – the education ministry – with the previous higher education ministry merged back into one huge portfolio.
His first six months as education minister saw him being dubbed menteri kasut (shoe minister) when he proposed that all school shoes and socks for primary and secondary students in government schools be changed to black. Students are allowed to wear white shoes until the end of 2020.
He has been called out for going against his word to not have politicians placed in key university positions, but has since agreed to step down from his position as International Islamic University Malaysia president.
In November, he drew flak when he suggested that hotels open up their swimming pools to students to have swimming lessons.
Dr Maszlee, who focused on terrorism studies while teaching, won the Simpang Renggam seat in the GE14 and is the second academic to hold the education minister post.
“I got into politics and was then picked for this position as education minister, but I’m still rather new in politics. So people are looking at me not purely as an educationist, but a mixture between the two. Some of my friends say that I’m only 5% politician and 95% an educationist,” he said.
English-Iban actor Henry Golding shot to international fame after starring in this year’s box-office hit Crazy Rich Asians as the male lead. The movie itself, which features an all-Asian cast, set a milestone for Asian representation and broke stereotypes.
It was Golding’s first acting role and a first of many to come as he later acted in another Hollywood flick, the mystery-thriller A Simple Favor, with three other upcoming films lined up. He was also picked to be one of the GQ Men of the Year for 2018.
Once a professional hairstylist in London before returning to Malaysia hosting TV shows, he later became the host of BBC’s The Travel Show.
While there were criticisms of him not being “Asian enough” for the role, many were proud not just of the Asian representation, but the indigenous representation as well, especially when he proclaimed clearly on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, “I’m Iban, I’m half-Malaysian and half-British. My mother is from East Malaysia, Sarawak.”
Another Malaysian actor who put Malaysia on the map in the entertainment scene is Lawrence Wong.
Born and raised in Johor Baru, he starred in his first commercial at 15. His modelling gigs gave him the opportunity to travel to China, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. He made his acting debut in 2009, and has acted in films and dramas in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, as well as hosted TV programmes.
However, it was when he ventured into China that he charmed viewers with his role as Hai Lan Cha in the popular Chinese drama Story Of Yanxi Palace, broadcast in over 80 countries worldwide.
He won Best Supporting Actor at the 14th Chinese American TV Festival in New York, and Asia’s Most Promising Actor at the 2018 Asian-American Television and Film Festival Golden Oak Award.
The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex
The marriage of British Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle, the first interracial marriage within the British royal family, was the wedding of 2018. The Duke and Duchess Of Sussex broke barriers and tradition.
Markle was no typical bride for the royal family. The 37-year-old divorcee, three years senior to Harry, is of Dutch, Irish and African-American parentage, and was raised by a single mother in Los Angeles, California.
The couple broke this tradition by exchanging rings at the ceremony. Usually, royal men like Harry’s grandfather, father and brother, do not wear wedding bands after they marry. This marks a modern step for the monarchy.
Princess Ayako Moriya
It was an act of love and sacrifice when Japan’s Princess Ayako Moriya gave up her title to marry a commoner. Ayako, 28, daughter of the late Prince Norihito who was the emperor’s first cousin, wed Kei Moriya, 32, who works for major shipping company Nippon Yusen, in October.
Women who marry into the imperial family become members of the family, but those who marry commoners, like Ayako, must leave. Another member of the royal family who will marry a commoner is Princess Mako, the eldest granddaughter of the emperor. The wedding is set for 2020.