There’s a lot of cynicism going around Singapore, murkily clouding the optimism and sunshine stifled beneath the toxic pessimism, choking us out of the vision of a brighter tomorrow.

Oh I’m sorry that was the haze, but cynicism is still a worrying trend. Don’t get me wrong, cynicism is incredible, but in the appropriate dosage. So let’s kick the optimism up with 20 people and things Singaporeans can be proud of.

1. Tan Howe Liang

The first Singaporean to win a medal at the Olympics. And he didn’t do it at events that regular Singaporeans would be good at, like long distance queuing or 300 meter Curry Puff dash. This dude weightlifted his way to the top.

2. 9th August

I know this isn’t a person and NDP have become a self contained parody but the date should be best remembered for our entry into the pantheons of independent countries. And if the founding of a country doesn’t make you proud, I don’t know what will.

3. Dr Alexandre Chao

The doctor who rushed back from vacation in order to help fight against the rising tide of SARS. He unfortunately passed away after being infected by the same disease.

4. Elizabeth Choy

Everyone knows the bravery of Lim Bo Seng and LT Adnan, who were all amazing Singaporeans that everyone worth their nationalistic salt should know about. But relatively fewer Singaporeans know about Elizabeth Choy, she basically showed every ounce of the bravery that the previous two did and continued with that vein of  excellence for the rest of her life

5. Chiam See Tong

The leaders of a country rightfully get their dues but just as much as the ones on thrones, the man consistently providing an alternate voice on a wooden chair deserves just as much glory.

6. Yip Pin Xiu

Yip Pin Xiu has been criminally underrated in the pantheons of great sportspeople in Singapore history. A gold medallist, in fact, the only gold medalist for Singapore in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. A true national treasure with the resolve and gumption all Singaporeans should look up to.

7. Xie Shaoguang

The dedication to your craft should be unparalleled but what Xie Shaoguang did at his prime, the ability to let go of all that is highly commendable in it’s own way.

8. Fandi Ahmad

He’s the most recognizable name in Singapore football, and there’s a dash of pride that comes along with hearing his name. This dude placed Singapore on the map, went to Europe and put us on a map again. The best footballer we have ever seen on our sunny shores.

9. Dr Tan Lai Yong

Known as the wandering saint of Singapore, a title that he humbly rejects, Dr Tan is a Singaporean missionary that seem almost at odds with Singaporean stereotypes. He has sacrificed the burdens of mortgages and upgrading for a simple life traversing the world helping the needy.

10.  Tony Tay

The co-founder of Willing Hearts Soup Kitchen, he has come a long way from distributing bread and vegetables to a group of 50 at Bukit Ho Swee to providing approximately 139500 free meals monthly.

11. Ho Yuen Hoe

Another wealthy individual who gave up the luxuries for a simpler, more fulfilling life. The Grand Dame of Charity set up holistic nursing homes for old folks, served others and dedicated her life to Buddhism.

12. Choor Singh

His tenure in the legal field might have been somewhat of a mixed bag, his post judicial career is a shining example of philanthropy. Donating to various outlets and helping the Sikh community till the end.

13. Muhammad Ariff Ahmad

Not only was he one of Singapore’s most acclaimed writers, he imparted his knowledge to future generations as a teacher. Furthermore, he helped Zubir Said, another great Singaporean, write the National Anthem.

14. Henn Tan

He might not have gotten the international acclaim that one might deserve for inventing a game changing technology but the inventor of the thumbdrive has the ingenuity and creativity that we should all be proud of.

15. Corrinne May

She is still probably the most acclaimed english singer in Singapore history. And her rise paved the way for a new influx of Singaporean musical talents coming through right now.

16. Md Shariff Abdullah

Overcoming obstacles and blazing trails. That is basically Sharff Abdullah’s life in a nutshell. Singapore’s first blade runner, mountain climber and an overall inspiring person.

17. Amanda Heng

Quite possibly Singapore’s most influential artist. She has knocked down conservative barrier after barrier erected by Singapore’s conservative society.

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