It’s been a tumultuous year. Here is a recap of some of 2019’s key highlights – tragedy and outrage across the globe, lined with silver.
Sultan Muhammad V, the Sultan of Kelantan, abdicated the federal throne as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia. Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billal Shah succeeded him on 31 January. Sultan Muhammad V is the first Agong in Malaysia’s history to abdicate the throne, in a move rumoured to be linked to his marriage to Russian former beauty queen – and now ex-wife – Oksana Voevodina.
In a historic moment for interreligious relations, Pope Francis arrived in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, becoming the first pope to visit the Arabian Peninsula. The three-day visitcame as part of the Pope’s efforts to improve relations with the Muslim world and encourage Catholic migrants in the Emirates.
Tragedy struck New Zealand when a white supremacist gunman rampaged across the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, killing 51 people and injuring 49 in an attack streamed on Facebook Live. The deadliest terrorist attack in the nation’s history, it prompted a hard look at social media regulations and the wave of conservatism sweeping the globe.
In its first major terrorist attack since the violence of its civil war ended in 2009, Sri Lanka saw bombs explode on Easter Sunday, 21 April, across eight locations, which included churches and hotels. The bombings killed 259 people, including 45 foreigners and injured over 500, crushing the island’s tourism industry.
The film industry monster that is Marvel cemented its place in cinematic history with the release of Avengers: Endgame, a star-studded spectacle that generated US$2.798 billion in the box office worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of all time.
The Asian LGBT+ movement won a monumental victory when Taiwan’s parliament became the first in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage, a move celebrated instantly in pride marches across Taiwan and other countries.
Over a million people marched through the city in protest against a proposed extradition law that they say will erode the “one country, two systems” arrangement between Hong Kong and China, a particularly sore point for the city’s sizeable pro-democracy movement. Protests and riots have continued since then, increasing in violence and intensity.
United States President Donald Trump added to hisgrowing list of self-styled accomplishments, becomingthe first sitting US president tocross the Korean Demilitarised Zone and enter North Korea from the South during a trilateral gathering between the US andthe two Koreas.
Tory Brexiteer Boris Johnson, almost as equally known as the head of state across the pond for his incautious tongue and many controversies, defeated Jeremy Hunt on 24 July in a contest for party leader, becoming prime minister of the United Kingdom.
The world sat up in shock as Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research reported that the world’s biggest rainforest – responsible for 20% of the world’s oxygen supply – was burning at a record rate, with smoke reaching São Paulo more than 2,700km away. While Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro faced controversy over his response to the wildfires, world leaders rushed to discuss the crisis and have been arranging for aid to put out the wildfires.
Teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg led a climate change protest in Canada, with half a million people in attendance, after calling out major corporations and governments on their complacency and complicity in accelerating the global ecological crisis. About four million people around the world went on strike the same day in solidarity with the 16-year-old.
What began as a coordinated fare evasion campaign by students in protest over a raise in subway fares exploded into the worst civil unrest Chile has seen since the end of Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship in 1990. The riots, centred on the country’s rampant wealth inequality and increasing cost of living, disabled the capital’s entire metro network and saw 19 deaths, almost 2,500 injured and 2,840 arrested as the government announced a state of emergency.
South Africa made world rugby history when the Springboks crushed England to win their third Rugby World Cup championship – with the most racially diverse team to represent the nation at a World Cup, and led by Siya Kolisi, the nation’s first-ever black captain. South Africa’s 32-12 win over England is culturally significant, with the potential to unite the historically fractured country across racial boundaries.
A spate of intense bushfires raged in Australia,ripping across New South Wales and Queensland. The fires were officially categorised as “catastrophic”, the highest point on Australia’s six-point fire danger scale, as hundreds of homes were razed.
Donald Trump became the third president in United States history to be impeached, after the House of Representatives voted to impeach him for high crimes and misdemeanors. Trump is accused of “betraying the country for his own political benefit and recommending the Senate remove him from office.” Here is ‘What You Need To Know About The Trump Impeachment.’
This article is an excerpt from UNRESERVED’s December 2019 issue from the article 2019 a Visual Review.