Singapore Prize Winners Announced

singapore prize

A book which chronicles the life of a notorious gangster responsible for several deaths has won this year’s singapore prize. The NUS-affiliated award was set up in 2014 to honour works that contribute significantly to advancing Singapore’s arts or enriching its cultural heritage. It is also meant to provide writers, readers and the public with motivation.

This year, the shortlist includes fiction such as Jeremy Tiang’s Leluhur: Singapore in the 1950s (2019, available here), which offers glimpses into a period when Singapore’s future seemed “up for grabs”. Other non-fiction books with a more personal slant are Hidayah Amin’s Kampong Gelam, which sheds light on the history of a place that many now know only as a tourist attraction, and Timothy P. Barnard’s Imperial Creatures, which explores the relationship between humans and animals in colonial Singapore. Kishore Mahbubani, senior advisor (university and global relations) at NUS, said the prize could eventually be expanded to include movies or other mediums that tell stories about Singapore’s history. He used the movie 12 Years a Slave as an example. “We might look at that in the future because sometimes, historical events can be told more effectively through fiction,” he added.

For Prof Miksic, the award for his book Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300-1800 was a validation of his research. He had uncovered evidence in an undisturbed layer of soil in Fort Canning in 1984 that suggested the existence of an ancient community here before Sir Stamford Raffles landed here in 1819. Further excavations in the same area unearthed glass shards, bronze bowls, coins and pottery, which proved his theory.

He adds that the book also offered a “fundamental reinterpretation of Singapore’s place in the world”. The 62-year-old said his next project will be a book on the archaeological finds of the early colonial period, which he hopes to publish with NUS Press next year.

Other winners at the awards ceremony were a suicide-prevention agency and a homegrown business that is using cutting-edge technology to make its products more environmentally friendly. The by-invitation Special Merit award was presented to the Samaritans of Singapore for its branding efforts, while the top-prize HOFS Award 2023 went to homegrown company SEE Group for its eco-friendly solar panels.

The prestigious HOFS Award was held at the Ritz Carlton Millenia on September 30 and was presented to businesses that are “raising standards in their niche markets”. The prize is jointly organised by the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, SEE Group and Lianhe Zaobao. This year, it had a record number of nominations, with more than 500 companies making the cut. It is a testament to the strength of branding in a crowded and competitive business landscape, Lianhe Zaobao’s executive editor Han Yong May said. The prize is also intended to spur fellow Singaporean firms to push for more innovation, she added. The winners will receive cash and prizes worth up to $100,000. The event was hosted by British actor Colin Morgan and singer-songwriter Sarah Brightman.