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Four pupils top 132 others in The Big Spell zonal battle

They will enter the finals on April 27, together with other pupils with the best zonal scores

Singapore, 13 April 2013 - For more than two hours, 132 pupils from 61 primary schools battled it out in the zonal rounds of the RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship 2013 this morning.

The zonal rounds took place simultaneously at four different locations - Woodlands Regional Library (North zone), Nanyang Polytechnic (South zone), Tampines Regional Library (East zone) and MOE Edutorium (West zone) - where the contestants tried to out-spell each other to secure a place in the Grand Finals on April 27.

Unlike the preliminary round in which about 1,400 students sat for a written test at the Raffles City Convention Centre, the pupils competing in today's zonal rounds slugged it out on stage - facing an audience and a judging panel - with each taking turns to spell aloud the words read to them by a pronouncer.

The participants spelt words such as "numismatics", "gastroenterology", "incomprehensibilities" and "moribund", in a spell-off which saw pupils gasping when a tough word was encountered, audible sighs of relief from the participants who accurately spelled their words and more than a few tears from those eliminated.

The four zonal champions who emerged from the nail-biting battle were:

- North zone: Koh Qin Ruo, 12, Rosyth School

- South zone: Kua Le Yi, 10, Catholic High School (Primary)

- East zone: Samuel Foo, 11, St Hilda's Primary School

- West zone: Ng Jun-Kai, 12, Unity Primary School

Kua Le Yi, who is in Primary 4, is the youngest of the four zonal champions.

Ms Serene Goh, Editor of IN and Little Red Dot, The Straits Times' weekly publications for schools, said: "This year, those of us who put together the word bank made it a point to up the difficulty level. But I think pupils saw that coming, and so did their teachers. They've all prepared really well and stepped up to the challenge. They've been really calm about taking on these big words. The four perfect scores as well as the 1,400 registrants at the preliminary round definitely surpassed our expectations.”

"Now I think our main concern is to make sure we have enough words in the bank to last as many rounds as they can spell. I was already on the edge of my seat last year as an anxious spectator, so I can't wait to witness the level of competition this year," she added.

Ms Norazzah Sulaiman, RHB Banking Group’s Director of Group Corporate Services, said: "Congratulations to our four zonal champions! We look forward to seeing them battling it out at the finals on April 27. I hope that all the participants have benefitted from this experience and emerged with a renewed sense of confidence and self-esteem."

The zonal champions, along with other finalists with the best zonal scores, will fight for spelling supremacy in the final round on April 27 at Raffles City Convention Centre. Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mr Hawazi Daipi, will be the Guest-of-Honour at the finals.

The champion speller will take home $5,000 cash and win the Challenge Trophy for his or her school . The first and second runners-up will win $3,000 and $1,000 cash respectively. All finalists will each get a medal.

The organisers hope the contest will develop a greater appreciation of the importance of spelling in literacy development among primary school pupils, as well as help to promote a healthy competitive spirit.

The Spelling Championship is organised in partnership with the Ministry of Education, fuelled by iQhub and supported by the National Library Board.

Issued by Singapore Press Holdings Ltd Co. Registration. No. 198402868E

For more information, please contact:

Andrea Thum (Ms)
Assistant Manager
Editorial Projects Unit
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
DID: 6319 1016

Joelyn Tan (Ms)
Corporate Communications & CSR
Singapore Press Holdings Ltd
Tel: 6319 1895 / 9859 7161

About The Straits Times

The Straits Times, the English flagship daily of SPH, has been serving readers for more than a century. Launched on July 15, 1845, its comprehensive coverage of world news, East Asian news, Southeast Asian news, home news, sports news, financial news and lifestyle updates makes The Straits Times the most-read newspaper in Singapore.

Quality news, in-depth analyses, impactful commentaries and breaking stories are packaged to give readers riveting accounts of events in Singapore, the region, and beyond.

The Straits Times' key strength is in its world class coverage of news outside Singapore. With 20 bureaus in major cities around the world, The Straits Times correspondents bring world news to readers on a Singapore platter, helping them appreciate world events from a Singaporean perspective.

In keeping with the times, The Straits Times introduced weekly supplements such as Digital Life (DL), Urban and Mind Your Body (MYB) to complement The Straits Times as well as IN and Little Red Dot to cater to young readers in schools. In 2010, IN won the World Young Reader prize for the Newspapers In Education category. The prize was awarded by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-Ifra).

The Straits Times also has an online presence at The site features top stories, blogs and an online forum threads. Also under The Straits Times' umbrella are citizen journalism site Stomp and online television service The Straits Times RazorTV.

About RHB Bank Singapore

RHB Bank was first established in 1961 as United Malayan Banking Corporation Berhad. Through a series of rapid expansion and strategic mergers, RHB Bank Singapore emerged as a full-licensed bank with a network of 7 branches and operating 15 Bureau de Change outlets in Singapore Changi Airport. The Bank provides a comprehensive range of financial products and services to consumer, corporate and business clients, ranging from various types of deposits and loans, treasury to investment banking.

RHB Bank Singapore is the first full bank to be conferred the prestigious S-Class (Service Class) award by SPRING Singapore as well as the first and only bank in Singapore and Malaysia to be awarded the prestigious “Best Customer Experience Management of the Year Award” in banking service by APCSC Hong Kong and most recently, awarded the SQC (Singapore Quality Class) by SPRING Singapore in June 2010.

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About Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

Main board-listed Singapore Press Holdings Ltd (SPH) is Southeast Asia's leading media organisation, engaging minds and enriching lives across multiple languages and platforms. It publishes 18 newspaper titles in four languages and over 100 magazine titles in Singapore and the region. On an average day, – 3.05 million individuals or 76 percent of people above 15 years old, read one of SPH’s news publications. SPH’s internet editions of its major newspapers enjoy over 270 million page views with 18 million unique visitors each month. Other new media initiatives include AsiaOne,, ST701, Stomp and The Straits Times RazorTV. SPH has also ventured into book publishing, broadcasting, out-of-home advertising and properties. For more information, please visit

About the Ministry of Education

The Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE) formulates and implements education policies and programmes in consultation with its stakeholders. These policies and programmes aim to help all students discover their talents, realise their potential, and develop a passion for learning that lasts through life. MOE also oversees the development and management of the Government and Government-aided primary schools, secondary schools and junior colleges. Please visit for more information.