Now that 2020 is coming to its inevitable yet anticipated close, many are looking forward to a fresh start after a long and unexpectedly painful year.
But, in order to move on from what feels like a roller coaster ride of horrors and heartbreaks, we should take a look back at the moments and experiences that made 2020 well… 2020.
Here are some local and global incidents to put things into perspective.
Beginning in October 2019 due to a lightning strike during a prolonged drought, the bushfires only came to an end mid-January 2020 after burning 18 million hectares of land, 2,800 homes and taking human casualties as well as killing countless animals.
Disastrous floods in Jakarta on New Years Day wiped out 182 neighbourhoods, killing 66 people and forcing almost 400,000 out of their homes. Thousands of buildings were submerged and wrecked while victims lost their lives to drowning, landslides, electric shocks and hypothermia.
Volcano eruption in the Philippines
A sudden eruption of the Taal volcano on 13 January caused villagers to abandon their homes. The Manila International Airport as well as schools and offices were ordered to close as clouds of ash had spread to more than 100 kilometers.
World War 3
Iranian General, Qasem Soleimani, was killed in a US drone strike that was ordered by Donald Trump, confirmed by the Pentagon. Following the incident, a dozen missiles were launched from Iran onto two military bases in Iraq that was housing American soldiers. The whole exchange prompted fears and rumours of World War 3.
One of the biggest marks of 2020 is most definitely the Covid-19 pandemic. The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission, China discovered a large cluster of patients suffering from pneumonia on 31 December 2019, which was later identified as the novel coronavirus. Officials also confirm a case of COVID-19 in Thailand, which was the first recorded case outside of China on 13 January, 2020.
The death of Kobe Bryant
Basketball legend, Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, who was also fondly known as the Black Mamba, perished alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, in a helicopter crash while they were on their way to Gianna’s basketball tournament on 26 January, 2020.
Though Brexit is something that started back in 2016, when the United Kingdom (UK) voted to leave the European Union (EU), they only officially stepped out of the EU on 31 January, 2020. The date is now known as Brexit Day.
Nakhon Ratchasima shootings
An angry soldier went on a 16-hour shooting spree at several locations including a shopping mall in Thailand, killing a total of 29 people from 8 February to 9 February 2020. Facebook also took down his account due to the disturbing content he posted, showcasing his rampage.
Locust swarms in Africa and Asia
East Africa and South Asia were attacked by hundreds of billions of desert locusts, in what BBC calls ‘the worst infestation for a quarter of a century’. The 200 billion or so locusts in Kenya engulfed enough food to have fed 84 million people.
The resignation of PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad submitted his resignation as the 7th prime minister of Malaysia (his second shot at the job) on 24 February 2020, which came as a huge disappointment to Malaysians who voted for him and PH hoping for a change in government during the historic GE14.
Movement Control Order (MCO)
The Covid-19 virus claimed 2020 as its year after it spread rapidly from country to country, causing cases and deaths to skyrocket and sending the entire world into a panic. Multiple countries closed its borders and went into lockdown, including Malaysia who implemented the first (and hopefully last) MCO on 18 March 2020.
Due to concerns caused by the global pandemic, we saw people all over the world panic-buying items such as food items, face masks, hand sanitiser and even toilet paper, causing supermarkets and grocery stores to look like scenes from zombie apocalypse movies.
PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin
Following what is now known as the Sheraton Move, where the new coalition ‘Perikatan Nasional’ was formed by UMNO, PAS, Bersatu, MCA, MIC and some PKR defectors in February 2020, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was appointed the 8th Prime Minister of Malaysia on 1 March, 2020.
The Harvey Weinstein case
After years and years of allegations and accusation of sexual abuse and harassment from countless women, including A-listers such as Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cara Delevingne, Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison on 11 March, 2020. This case also reignited the phrase, #MeToo.
Mount Merapi erupts twice
Indonesia’s most active volcano, Mount Merapi erupted on both 3 March and 27 March, spewing massive amounts of ash into the atmosphere that covered areas several kilometres away from the peak of the rumbling crater near the cultural capital of Yogyakarta.
Boys Like Girls
Popular punk rock band, Boys Like Girls was supposed to perform in Malaysia on 11 April 2020, but the show never happened due to lockdown restrictions. That was just a small, yet painful beginning of the downfall of the entertainment industry in Malaysia.
Kim Jong-un’s death rumours
The Supreme Leader of North Korea missed a series of events, including the important commemoration of the birthday of his grandfather, North Korea’s founder Kim Il-sung, which led to rumours and reports of his death in April 2020. But, all of that was put to rest when he made a public appearance in May.
Amazon forest fires
By 10 May, a staggering 1,202 square km of the Amazon rain-forest was wiped out from the face of the Earth due to forest fires since January and was made worse by illegal logging, mining and farming on protected lands. The size of the devastation was reportedly larger than the state of Penang.
The death of George Floyd
George Floyd died on 25 May 2020, after a police officer who was called on him handcuffed Floyd and pinned him to the ground by his neck, and his demise was ruled a homicide. His death was the final straw against police brutality, prompting BLM protests all over the United States.
Black Live Matter (BLM) protests
Following George Floyd’s death, the BLM movement’s protests didn’t just break out in the United States, but also all around the world as supporters took to their most convenient platform to stand in solidarity against police brutality and the unjust racial profiling of African-Americans.
The death of SS15’s bubble tea street
May 2020 saw many bubble tea franchises closing their shops in SS15 and giving up their premises, due to a lack of customers because of the lockdowns. Gone are the long queues side by side from each other as a large number of boba brands housed outlets on that one street in SS15.
Unemployment rates hit an all-time high
Based on figures by the Malaysian Department of Statistics, unemployment rates were the highest ever in May 2020 at 826.1 thousand people (5.3%). That’s a whole 73% increase from the previous two months as the rates were at 519.8 thousand people in March 2020.
Former Miss Universe Malaysia’s BLM backlash
Samantha Katie James, the Miss Universe Malaysia 2017 title holder, told African Americans, amid the BLM protests, to calm down and take police brutality as a challenge, adding that they ‘chose to be born as a coloured person in America for a reason’. She has since apologised for her remarks.
Kanye West Runs For Presidency
On 5 July, Kanye West announced that he will be running for the presidency of the United States, after endorsing Donald Trump’s presidency and donning a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat while meeting with Trump back in 2018. His candidacy was short-lived.
Former Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak was found guilty of corruption on 28 July 2020 and was sentenced to 12 years in jail and a hefty fine of RM210 million, in one of the world’s most controversial corruption trials in the history of politics. His lawyers are appealing the case.
An explosion at a warehouse in Beirut not only sent a mushroom cloud into the air and a supersonic blast-wave radiating through the city, but also killed at least 200 people and injuring 5,000 others, on 4 August. The Lebanese government resigned due to public outrage over the incident.
The death of Chadwick Boseman
Many didn’t know that the Black Panther actor was suffering from colon cancer and even called him ‘Crack Panther’ when images of him looking frail and sickly hit the internet. He sadly passed away on 28 August 2020, just as his career was just taking off.
Burmese soldiers expose injustice against Rohingya
Two soldiers from Myanmar revealed and confirmed the genocide of the Rohingya people in a first-ever confession. They admitted to accepting orders to shoot all Rohingya men, women and children and even exposed horrific rapes before they were killed and buried in mass graves.
Water on Mars
New findings from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars, prompting theories of how life can be supported on the cold, desert planet.
The death of Eddie Van Halen
Rock n roll enthusiasts felt the loss of Van Halen co-founder and legendary guitarist, Eddie Van Halen, who lost his life to throat cancer at the age of 65 on 6 October. Rolling Stone called the Dutch-Indonesian musical mastermind ‘rock’s last guitar superhero’.
Malaysian pornographic Telegram group
A Telegram group, V2K, consisting of thousands of Malaysians was exposed to be distributing and sharing non-consensual pornographic photos and videos of girls, some of whom were under-aged. Members of the group even justified their activities, saying that ‘at least they were not raping anyone’.
The death of Coco Siew
23-year-old Malaysian, Coco Siew, lost her life months before her wedding after undergoing liposuction surgery on her arms, conducted by an unlicensed beauty practitioner. It was later discovered that the practice was registered as a beauty product wholesaler and was conducting procedures illegally.
Beheading of a French teacher
A man was shot dead by police officers after he had beheaded a French history teacher in front of the school he worked at after the teacher had discussed the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed published by the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. This incident was just one of the many attacks that were carried out due to the caricatures.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt releases ‘This is Malaysia’
After spending months recruiting Malaysians for a special video project, the Hollywood A-lister released ‘This is Malaysia‘, a short film showcasing the beauty of Malaysia. The video included pictures, short videos, a poem and music contributed by 97 Malaysians.
Donald Trump is out
Joe Biden wins the 2020 U.S. elections to become the 46th U.S. president, effectively ending Trump’s reign in the White House. As expected, Trump rejected the outcome (and still is), stating that the election is ‘far from over’ and has since refused to concede.
Vice president Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris made history as she was elected as the United States’ first female, first black and first Asian-American vice president, after the former vice president, Joe Biden chose the senator to be his running mate in the 2020 U.S. elections against Donald Trump.
After the first one appeared in Utah, 87 other monoliths mysteriously appeared all around the world, including in Romania and Serbia. While many claimed that it was the work of aliens, others also stepped forward to claim credit for the monoliths. Who really put them there, though, will we ever know?
The death of Diego Maradona
Argentine football legend, Diego Maradona, died at the age of 60 on 25 November. It is said that he had a heart attack caused by electrical disturbances following successful surgery on a blood clot in his brain. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time.
Gregorio family killing
A mother and her 25-year-old son were shot at point-blank range by an off-duty policeman at their home in the Philippines on 21 December, over a homemade air cannon that was making loud noises. The officer’s daughter had shouted ‘My father is a policeman’, to which the elderly replied ‘I don’t care’, which prompted the officer to shoot her and her son.
Marijuana was removed from the list of risky narcotics
The state members of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) have dropped the status of marijuana from the narcotic drug control list following World Health Organisation’s (WHO) proposal to conduct studies on marijuana use in the medical sector.
Some trends and incidents that happened this year, that deserve honourable mentions include:
- The calling out of Karens
- The downfall of celebrity worship
- The awareness that men can be victims of abuse too
- The flourishing of the environment without human interference
- The fragility of our economy
- The understanding that there are people suffering in the world
2020 has truly been a hell of a year. Sure, there were instances where we wondered how we would survive but now that the year is coming to an end, we can truly say that we have come out of it all stronger and more appreciative of the lives that we have.
Hence, with that being said, here’s to 2021 and hopefully, better years to come.
Did we miss out on anything worth noting? Let us know in the comment section.