The Singapore Prize – Expanding Its Appeal

The Singapore Prize – conferred by the President of Singapore – is Singapore’s pinnacle award. It is given to individuals and organisations who have done the most for our nation and society through their tireless efforts. It also serves as a powerful motivation to continue to strive for excellence and be a City of Good.

This year, the prize has a new category for debut authors in each of the four languages. The prize also has a Readers’ Favourite award that will see the public vote online for their favourite shortlisted book in each language. This is in addition to the traditional panel-based awards that judges will award in each of the four languages.

In a move to broaden the prize’s appeal, there will be a special category for comics and graphic novels published in English by Singaporean creators from 2021 to 2023. Previously, such works had been eligible for the literary awards under different categories, as when Sonny Liew’s Charlie Chan Hock Chye won an award for English fiction in 2016.

There will also be a new award that recognises the work of people who have contributed to the understanding of Singapore’s history. It will be awarded triennially starting from 2024 and is open to any publication that has a significant impact on the interpretation of Singapore’s history. It will be the first Singapore History Prize to be conferred.

Professor Wang Gungwu, chairman of the panel that selected this year’s winner, said Prof Miksic’s book “has laid the foundations for a fundamental reinterpretation of Singapore’s history and its place in the world”. The book was chosen out of 29 submissions from local and international scholars.

Prof Wang added that the prize may expand in future to include other genres such as movies, comics and music to reflect the way history is told today. He gave the example of the movie 12 Years a Slave, which won an Oscar for best picture last year and which has helped audiences better understand slavery.

The prizes will be announced at a ceremony in November. In the lead-up to the event, each of the shortlisted books will be available in Singapore and the region at major bookstores for readers to read and enjoy.

The top winner will receive S$200,000 in cash and a commissioned trophy. The second-placed winner will receive S$100,000 and the third-placed winner will get S$60,000. The top three winners will also be offered a chance to speak at the Prize’s prestigious annual event, the PVPA Gala Dinner, in 2023.