PETALING JAYA: There was no shortage of major events that grabbed the nation's attention in 2019.
It was the year Malaysia installed a new King, witnessed the retirement of a badminton legend, and mourned the death a girl who disappeared from a Negri Sembilan resort, among many others.
To identify the front-page news topics that our readers felt most strongly about, The Star ranked its top Page One stories for 2019. We used several measurements, including pageview figures of each cover story as recorded in The Star Online.
We found that our most-read cover stories were usually those that chronicled historic events. Topping this list was when Malaysia welcomed a new Yang di-Pertuan Agong in January following the resignation of Sultan Muhammad V.
Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah was elected the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong by the Conference of Rulers on Jan 24,2019.
His Majesty was sworn in and signed his oath of office as the new King on Jan 31.
Another milestone was the retirement of badminton champion Lee Chong Wei.
One of the best singles shuttlers the world has ever seen, Lee was ranked world No. 1 for a mind-blowing 349 weeks, including a 199-week streak from 2008-2012.
Traffic for the year's news stories was also driven by the key concerns of the average Malaysian.
These include bread-and-butter issues.
For example, The Star's coverage of the tabling of Budget 2020 was among the most closely followed and read by audiences across our print and online platforms.
The other hot topic was water supply cuts. In the Klang Valley, residents had to endure no fewer than four supply disruptions in 2019.
Pollution also proved to be a key concern, as seen in the popularity of our exclusive interview with Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, who chided the authorities over the second case of chemical pollution in Pasir Gudang.
Stories such as those about water supply cuts evoked readers' anger. So did the reports about Richard Huckle, who had been described as Britain's worst paedophile.
He was knifed to death in his prison cell in the United Kingdom in October.
Huckle, who was found to have sexually abused around 200 children between 2006 to 2014, most of them in Malaysia, was sentenced to life by a British court in 2016.
Yet, there was anguish in other stories.
Perhaps the most heartbreaking was about Nora Anne Quoirin, a 15-year-old British girl who went missing at a resort where she and her family were supposed to have a vacation.
Nora Anne and her family arrived in Malaysia for a two-week holiday and checked into the resort in Seremban on Aug 3.
The teenager vanished the following morning.
Ten days later, her body was found in a stream 2.5km from the resort.
The initial postmortem revealed that she had died of gastrointestinal bleeding, likely due to hunger and stress.
Among the The Star exclusives that made it to the front page, some stood out more than others.
For example, a story on how some Malaysians were peeved by pushy VIP motorcades became the most popular self-generated news article for 2019 among our readers.
In addition, a Sunday Star special report on how the average Malaysian salaries were barely enough to make ends meet also ended up as our most highly read for the year.
For court stories, the trial of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was hands-down the most popular read.
A number of crime stories, which include terrorism-related pieces, were also among our most widely read front-page stories.
Leading the list was the shooting in New Zealand, where a gunman killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch during Friday prayers on March 15.
Among the victims was a 17-year-old Malaysian, Muhammad Haziq Mohd Tarmizi.
Three other Malaysians were injured in the shooting that drew global condemnation – Muhammad Haziq's father Mohd Tarmizi Shuib, 42, Mohd Nazril Hisham Omar, 46, and Rahimi Ahmad, 39.
Muhammad Haziq's 12-year-old brother Muhammad Haris escaped unharmed but had to undergo treatment for trauma.
The top local terror-related story, meanwhile, was on a foreign suspected militant operating on the sly in Malaysia. An Egyptian who moved to a small town in Sarawak turned out to be a suspected terrorist who was detained by police in a raid.
The case highlighted how foreign militants are trying to evade detection by coming to Malaysia, then marrying locals or conducting businesses here while biding their time and planning to strike.
Another big crime story was the Immigration Department's arrest of 680 Chinese nationals, who are suspected members of a syndicate running a call centre for an investment and foreign exchange scam.
The syndicate operated from a six-storey building in Cyberjaya and is believed to have targeted victims in China, promising them high and quick returns.