The Singapore Prize is awarded to works that best epitomize, inspire and promote the spirit of Singapore. It recognises publications that have made a significant impact on the public’s understanding of Singapore’s history and culture. The prize was established in 2014 by a gift from Mr Alan HJ Chan and is backed by an endowment fund from the Temasek Foundation.
It is the first national book award in Singapore to honour history, and the first international prize here to focus on Singapore’s history. Kishore Mahbubani, NUS Asia Research Institute distinguished fellow and the award’s jury chair, explains that the prize stemmed from an opinion column he wrote in April 2014. In it, he called on local philanthropists to donate a cash prize to reward the best historical writing on Singapore. One reader responded with a generous offer of S$500,000, to be placed in an endowment fund that would generate interest and support the prize.
The book prize is open to any work of fiction or non-fiction published in the past two years and that relates to Singapore’s history. The winner will be selected by a panel of judges, including historians and academics familiar with Singapore’s rich cultural heritage. Applicants can submit their entries in English, Chinese or Malay. The prize’s nomination committee consists of five members from academia and the arts, with the winner to be announced in October each year.
Mahbubani says the prize was created in support of SG50, and its aim is to ensure that Singaporeans understand their nation’s history better. “Nations are ‘imagined communities’, and shared imagination is a critical glue that holds societies together,” he says. He adds that the prize aims to give readers “a glimpse of our unique story and make it more accessible to a wider audience”.
Five winners of the Earthshot Prize will be presented with their PS1 million (S$1.7 million) awards at an award ceremony in Singapore on November. The prize, launched by Britain’s Prince William, aims to show the world that solutions to some of our planet’s most pressing environmental problems are out there.
The award ceremony is part of a larger event, the inaugural Earthshot Week, which will see global leaders, businesses and investors convene in Singapore with prize winners and finalists to explore ventures aimed at bringing about tangible action to repair the planet. The ceremony is also set to feature performances by musicians and artists.
The prize’s sponsors include philanthropic organisation Temasek Trust, investment firm Temasek, decarbonisation investment platform GenZero and non-profit environmental conservation organisation Conservation International. This year, Standard Chartered has joined as a Founding Partner to help the prize create impact and reach a wider audience.