A look back into events that defined year 2014.
It’s unbelievably quick that another year is coming to an end. There were some good moments in the year that we were happy for but in 2014, it seems that there were more bad news that left us saddened and wondered why did that happened. While it appears that there is lesser natural disasters in 2014 (we are thankful for that) but on the other hand, more traumatizing man-made tragedies were witnessed this year. This made me realized that there is a balance in everything. We’ll see the good and the bad inevitably.
In just few days before 2014 concludes, it’s a good idea to recap on major events that defined this particular year;
The re-emergence of the deadly virus Ebola was the biggest health talking point in 2014. The virus developed in several countries in West Africa and has since spread to other African countries, Spain and the United States. The virus is known for its particularly high mortality rate – approximately 71% of infected patients die from the virus – and for its eye-watering effects, which include internal and external bleeding as well as heavy vomiting. There are currently over 18 000 cases and about 7 000 deaths (true figures may be three times higher) reported from this virus outbreak that captured the world’s attention from the seriousness of this disease.
2014 saw the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, an extremist group otherwise known as ISIS, who moved across Iraq and other areas with the objective of capturing Baghdad, the capital city, and transferring control to their group. The group has received widespread condemnation for its appalling human rights record, and in particular for the savage beheadings of their enemies, including two American journalists, one American, and two aid workers from Britain.
Israel – Gaza Conflict
While I’m not that clear or knows in detail on the history of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, what really saddened me is their conflict that escalated into war at Gaza Strip. Tension that first started from land border and humanitarian crisis between the two regions reached its peak this year in early July when three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas members and then seven Hamas members killed from Israeli airstrikes in tunnel explosion. Thereafter, seven weeks of Israeli bombardment, Palestinian rocket attacks, and ground fighting resulted in deaths of over 2200 people. It was only until end of August when an open-ended ceasefire was announced.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and Flight 17, and other aircraft disasters in the year.
This is the first time my country made it to the worldwide headlines and sympathy for at least two times this year, but for something very tragic. A mystery captured the imagination and broke the hearts of the world in March when Malaysia airlines flight 370, which on March 8th was supposed to travel from Malaysia to Beijing, suddenly disappeared, seemingly leaving not a trace of the fate of the plane. Though a full-scale search and rescue was conducted, the plane’s whereabouts or the bodies of those on board have yet to be determined eventhough it is reported earlier that the plane is presumed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean.
The aviation industry suffered again in July, when Malaysia Flight 17 crashed in Ukraine, killing 298 people on board, including 15 crew members after it is believed to have been shot down by missile. An international investigation is currently on its way to find out the truth and the event has caused widespread economic sanctions by Europe and United States on Russia, the country supporting the separatist group in Ukraine which is believed to be responsible for the downing of the plane but has not been verified yet.
Also not to forget two other unrelated aviation disasters that happened in July this year. TransAsia Airways Flight 222 from Kaohsiung to Magong crashed and killed 48 people in Taiwan and Air Algerie Flight 5017 that killed 116 people on board the plane en-route from Burkina Faso to Algeria but went down in Mali. On 28th December (just yesterday), another plane, AirAsia Indonesia Flight QZ8501 carrying 162 people was reported missing on its route from Surabaya to Singapore. It’s seriously a bad year for aviation.
Korean Ferry Sank
In April 16th, 2014, a South Korean ferry MV Sewol en-route from Incheon to Jeju Island capsizes and sinks after an unmanageable cargo shift, killing more than 290 people (mostly high school students on board) and also 2 rescue divers. The ferry carrying 476 people is believed to have made unreasonably sudden turn to starboard that resulted in the ship tilting, hence the disaster. According to the Coast Guard, the sudden turn caused the cargo to shift to the left, causing the ship to experience an incline and to eventually become unmanageable for the crew. Overloading of cargo is also seen as a contributing secondary factor to the sinking of the ship.
2014 in Sports
2014 must have been a tiring year for athletes, sportsmen and sportswomen across the world as it is the year filled with many international sporting events. Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup, Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and Incheon 2014 Asian Games all took place this year. The most memorable sport moment of the year would be the semi-final match between Germany and host nation, Brazil in FIFA World Cup 2014 when Germany won by a huge 7-1 margin in goals that left Brazil in huge distraught. It is even called as the most humiliating defeat in World Cup history. Germany eventually went on to win the Cup for their fourth time after defeating Argentina in the final.
My country, Malaysia had shown poorer performances particularly in Commonwealth and Asian Games this year. The country did not achieve the already-lowered gold medal target set in both of the games, and is also involved in doping cases (one for our wushu athlete in Asian Games that resulted on us surrendering our gold medal back to the games, and another one for our world number one men single player in badminton, Lee Chong Wei whom had been tested positive in drug in BWF World Championship held in Denmark this year). We also failed to win the Thomas Cup this year given the bright opportunity when China is kicked out, but lost out to the surprisingly great Japan team in the final, and it’s their first ever win of the Cup.
On November 12th, Rosetta, a spacecraft launched by the European Space Agency, landed on Comet 67, making it the first mission to successfully land on a comet nucleus. It was a remarkable achievement for mankind for myriad reasons, but perhaps the most impressive fact is that the spacecraft – which is the size of a fridge – could travel hundreds of millions of miles and land on a 2.5 mile wide asteroid. As the Guardian Newspaper put it, that’s like firing a shell from London and hitting the head of a nail in New Delhi, 4,000 miles away (FOUR thousand!).
The achievement of the European Space Agency should be heralded, as should every piece of good news that comes our way. In an age when a lot of what we hear is bad, evil, or outright terrifying, it’s worth remembering that there is still plenty of good out there in the world. Let’s all try to make sure that we hear some more of those good moments in 2015.
Also let us not forget these two songs that were such a worldwide hit this year and eventually spawned countless cover versions; ‘Happy‘ by Pharell Williams and ‘Let It Go‘, the original song for the current world’s highest grossing animated film, ‘Frozen’ that was released in 2013. And the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which is first started as a movement to attract and encourage more people to donate to ALS Foundation (for patients with motor neuron disease), but then went viral across the world after participation of thousands of celebrities and popular international figures.
The massive protest in Hong Kong that demanded for universal suffrage from China on their election of the Chief Executive also made headlines in global news as the demonstrations took well over two months from late September to early December. Many protesters used umbrellas for defense against the police, and hence that has become the representative symbol of the movement known as ‘Umbrella Revolution‘, but ended with no positive outcome.
That’s all for some very memorable highlights for the year 2014. This is a really good time to look back to our recent past and hope for a much better and positive years ahead.
(Part of this article is contributed by Helen Jones, a freelance article writer. Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web.)