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Ashvin Sivakumar from Anglo-Chinese School is national Champion Speller

Singapore, 27 April 2013 - Singapore's champion speller is Ashvin Sivakumar, 12, a Primary 6 pupil of Anglo-Chinese School (Primary), who beat 30 others in the final showdown of the RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship earlier today.

He spelled his way to the top spot at the Padang Collyer Ballroom at Raffles City Convention Centre after spelling correctly the word "
pulchritudinous” in the 10th round, knocking out his opponent, Kua Le Yi, 10, from Catholic High School (Primary), who was named the first runner-up. The second runner-up was Loi Si Xian, 11, from Raffles Girls' Primary School.

In the most competitive round of the spelling quest lasting more than 
two hours this morning, the 31 finalists, who had earlier battled through two exciting rounds - the Preliminary on 9 March and the Zonals on 13 April - slugged it out on stage, facing a judging panel from the Ministry of Education, English Language Institute of Singapore, The Straits Times, the National Library Board and the Speak Good English Movement. The convention hall was packed with fellow student supporters, teachers, principals and parents.

Each finalist took turns to spell aloud the words read out by a pronouncer, spelling their way through 
more than 100 words. As the rounds progressed with increasing difficulty, they were eliminated one by one after getting tripped up by words such as "prognosticate" and"malocclusion". The decisive final round narrowed down to Ashvin Sivakumar and Kua Le Yi before Ashvin was declared the champion. 

For his hard-fought victory, Ashvin took home $5,000 and the Challenge Trophy for his school, while the other two top spellers won $3,000 and $1,000 respectively. The top winners in the four zonal rounds each received $500 cash and $100 worth of book vouchers at the prize presentation today. All finalists were also each given a medal.

In the Big Spell Digital Challenge finals, held on the sidelines of this morning's competition, Lim Qing En Gabriel, 
11, from Lakeside Primary School emerged the champion, after two rounds - first against nine other top players from the leaderboard, and then two rivals in the final round. The online spelling game, iSpell iGNITE, is a new component this year fuelled by education technology firm iQ-hub to extend the competition’s reach to more pupils. The other two winners are Shen Zhen Yang, 10, from Nan Hua Primary School, and Tan Chee Heng, 10, from Bukit View Primary School. All three won a Samsung tablet each. 

Guest-of-honour Mr Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Education and Manpower Ministries, was represented by Mrs Chua Yen Ching, Director of Curriculum Planning and Development Division of the MOE. Delivering his speech for him, she
commended the contestants for taking spelling seriously. "You've already got much to be proud of: You’ve made it to the top of 1,400 participants, and it’s clear that you have the talent and gumption for this challenge," she said.

She added that he hoped the pupils would apply the same determination in their studies and in their pursuits, just like last year's champion Jordan Foo, who applied "his high standards in one area to other areas because he wants to do his best in everything he undertakes". 

In his opening address, Mr Warren Fernandez, editor of The Straits Times, said spelling is not just about memorising words, and he urged students to read widely, "pay attention to English words, appreciate their texture, structure and idiosyncrasies".

He added that for The Straits Times, the contest was 
in line with its core beliefs, "in the value of reading, writing and staying in touch with what is going on in the world". "To be able to read and understand, you must be able to spell well the proper way, not in Net or SMS speak," he said.  

Chairman of RHB Banking Group, Tan Sri Azlan Zainol, who flew in from Kuala Lumpur to catch the finals, said of the spelling quest: “We believe that it is our responsibility to help the youth of today to uncover their true potential and develop into a well-rounded workforce of tomorrow. We are hopeful that our action will build an informed generation of confident, competitive and motivated individuals who will eventually become successful in their own right.” 

Dr Tan Bee Geok, the Ministry of Education's Deputy Director for Gifted Education, said she hoped an annual competition such as this one would help to generate greater interest in reading and in acquiring a rich vocabulary among primary pupils, as well as raise their standard of written language through a good choice of words and accurate spelling. 

The contest, open to Primary 4, 5 and 6 pupils, drew a record number of about 1,400 students in the Preliminary round. Co-organised by RHB Banking Group and The Straits Times, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, this second edition of The Big Spell was fuelled by iQ-hub and supported by the National Library Board.

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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

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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.