Singapore Prize Winners Announced

SINGAPORE: Writer Meira Chand, graphic artist Suchen Christine Lim and Malay dance veteran Osman Abdul Hamid have been conferred the Cultural Medallion, Singapore’s highest arts accolade. The prize, which carries a cash award of S$80,000, was awarded by President Tharman Shanmugaratnam at a ceremony at the Istana on Tuesday.

The Singapore Prize is a national literary award that recognises and honours inspiring local literature by Singaporeans in the fields of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. It is administered by the NUS Press in partnership with the Department of History at the National University of Singapore. It was introduced in 2014 in support of programmes marking the nation’s 50th anniversary of independence.

Professor Kishore Mahbubani, senior advisor (university & global relations) at NUS, mooted the idea for the prize when he wrote an opinion column in The Straits Times asking Singapore’s philanthropists to donate money to fund a book prize dedicated to the study of the nation’s history. “As the prize was meant to be a catalyst for a wider conversation, I also encouraged the public to share their own ideas about how we might expand it beyond books,” he said.

In the end, Prof Miksic’s work won the prize because it made a fundamental contribution to the understanding of the nation’s past. His book “examines the various bits of historical evidence – such as literary records of names like Temasek and Longyamen, or archaeological finds from sites like Fort Canning and Old Parliament House – to arrive at a new framework for understanding the origins of Singapore,” he said.

The prize is set to continue for another three years, and the next winner will be announced in 2024. To qualify, works must be book-length and deal with any time period, field or theme in Singaporean history. Other creative works that have clear historic themes can also be nominated.

An example of this is the Singapore Junior Water Prize, which gathers young minds to come up with innovative water solutions to tackle environmental issues and raise awareness about sustainable development. This year, a team led by Wang Haiyi from the National Junior College won the local competition and will represent Singapore in this year’s Stockholm Junior Water Prize in Sweden.