The Spirit of Singapore Prize and Other Singapore Awards

A $30,000 book prize has been launched to recognise local fiction and non-fiction work – the richest pot for a Singapore award so far. The inaugural Dr Alan HJ Chan Spirit of Singapore Book Prize is backed by the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), and was launched on April 18. The prize, made possible by a donation from Confucian scholar Alan Chan, will recognise works that champion mindsets and values important to the shaping of Singapore. These include equality, diversity, religious harmony, meritocracy, pragmatism and resilience, among others.

Publishing Perspectives is proud to be the media partner for the prize, and will provide coverage throughout the process. We will also feature the winners of each category when they are announced, and will have further analysis of their impact on the local publishing industry.

NUS Asia Research Institute distinguished fellow Kishore Mahbubani, who mooted the prize in an opinion column in The Straits Times in April 2014, explains why it matters. “As the renowned American social scientist Benedict Anderson once said, ‘nations are imagining communities’ and a shared imagination, especially in history, is a critical glue holding societies together.

The shortlist of this year’s awards includes a number of writers from different genres and generations, including two directors of the Singapore Writers Festival in the poetry category, as well as a former and current director of the National Museum of Singapore in the creative non-fiction section. There are two nonagenarians in the list as well, namely Wang Gungwu and Suratman Markasan, who are both shortlisted for their English literary works.

A prize founded by Britain’s Prince William will be presented in Singapore later this month. The Earthshot Prize, which was established in 2020, will celebrate innovators who are developing innovative environmental solutions. Five winners will receive a prize of up to $1 million each.

As part of the celebrations, the award will be held at the Singapore Exhibition and Convention Centre (SEC) on Nov 15. It will feature performances by world-renowned musicians and artists.

Selvam Arumugam, 42, a rigger and signalman who works in Singapore’s shipping industry, is the winner of the first season of the show. He had no idea what the game was about when he signed up, but decided to give it a try anyway. In the end, he ended up winning a total of $62,900 in cash and a car. His prize money is enough to pay for his family’s medical bills and tuition fees, he says. “I was very happy,” he tells The Strait Times. “I was thinking that if I didn’t win, I wouldn’t be able to afford the medical treatment for my family.” He plans to use the money to buy a second car and support his children’s schooling. He also wants to invest some of it in property. He hopes that one day he will have a house with a swimming pool. “My wife and I have always wanted a swimming pool,” he adds.