In a first for Singapore, a new book prize has been created to reward works that champion mindsets and values important to the city. The $30,000 Singapore Prize, which was inaugurated this year by the University of Social Sciences (SUSS), will award fiction and non-fiction titles that champion the themes of resonance, diversity and the spirit of enterprise. The SUSS, which is the largest university in the country, has named five books to its inaugural shortlist. The first prize winner will be announced in October.
The prize aims to encourage a wider engagement with Singapore history by casting a wide net that includes pre-1819 publications and works that consider the complexities of the nation’s identity and its place in the world. The panel of judges for this year’s prize included writer and historian Meira Chand, the author of the popular book “Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea”, economist Lam San Ling and historian Peter Coclanis. Archaeologist John Miksic, who won this year’s NUS Singapore History Prize for his book “Leluhur: The Story of Singapore Kampong Gelam”, lauded the win as an affirmation that anyone who lives in the country can write a history book. He added that the work was also a primary source, as he spent years interviewing locals about their memories of the past.
After arriving at Changi Airport, Prince William got a rock star welcome, being greeted by crowds holding up homemade signs and waving Union Jack flags. He also greeted children and took selfies with fans. The heir to the British throne was in Singapore for the third annual Earthshot Prize, which he and his Royal Foundation charity launched in 2020 to promote innovative solutions that tackle global warming and mitigate its impact on the planet.
Ahead of his address at the event, he tweeted: “Hello Singapore, I’m really looking forward to this evening’s ceremony for The Earthshot Prize in your incredible new Jewel Changi Airport. It’s a real pleasure to be here with you!”
The prince later tweeted a picture of himself at the airport, with a tree planted in his honour. He is due to fly out of the country on Tuesday.
The Prince of Wales, accompanied by Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, attended the ceremony at the iconic mall on Tuesday to award the winners of the new prize, which is sponsored by a consortium of four Singapore companies and supported by a range of government ministries.
The 2023 winners include Accion Andina, GRST, WildAid Marine Program and S4S Technologies. The winners were picked from a pool of finalists that were selected in three English categories and two Chinese language categories. Five writers were shortlisted in two or more of the categories, making it the most contested award in the program’s 30 years of operation. It is the first time that a writer has been shortlisted in three English categories and two languages. The Singapore Book Council’s Achievement award, separate from the new shortlist, is to go to poet Edwin Thumboo.