SINGAPORE - "Haze" received the most votes from Lianhe Zaobao readers asked to sum up 2013 in a Chinese character.
The second most popular choice was "greed" given the corruption cases involving high-profile public servants such as Edwin Yeo, an assistant director with the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.
He was charged in August with misappropriating $1.7 million from 2008 to last year.
This is the third year in which Chinese-language daily Lianhe Zaobao has run a poll to let its readers decide which one of 10 Chinese characters best reflects the major local and international events of the past year.
Of the record 130,000 votes collected this time, 32 per cent went to the Chinese character mai, which means haze.
Singapore experienced its worse haze on June 21, when the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) hit a record hazardous level of 401.
While this year was, from a news perspective, "an eventful year with many news events that warrant reflection", said Zaobao editor Goh Sin Teck, the readers' top choice showed that they were concerned about Mother Earth falling sick.
Tan, which means greed, received 24 per cent of the votes, with pan, which means anticipation, in third place with 18 per cent.
The 10 characters, which included "Internet" and "power", were shortlisted by a panel comprising various experts and academics, including Dr Foo Tee Tuan, deputy director at the Uni- Sim Centre for Chinese Studies and Nominated Member of Parliament Eugene Tan.
The number of voters this year was 40 times more than last year, when "lust" was chosen after a series of sex scandals made the headlines.
One reason for the rise in the number of voters this year was that the poll was sent online for the first time through the Chinese daily's website, Zaobao.com.
Various community outreach events to increase awareness of the poll - another first - were also conducted at libraries, where the public could vote on the spot.
In 2011, readers chose the word zhang, which means "rise", to describe the rising property prices, cost of living and inflation.
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