Britain’s Prince William is in Singapore to announce the winners of the Earthshot Prize, an annual award launched by his Royal Foundation charity in 2020 to encourage inventors to develop technologies that help to protect our ailing planet. The prize’s five winning projects focus on creating a waste-free world, cleaning the air, fixing the climate, reviving oceans, and protecting and restoring nature. The awards ceremony took place on Tuesday at Mediacorp Theatre and was co-hosted by actors Hannah Waddingham and Sterling K. Brown, with the bands One Republic and Bastille and US singer Bebe Rexha performing for the event. In line with the sustainability theme, the prince wore a 10-year-old dark green blazer by Alexander McQueen as he and other presenters walked a “green carpet.”
Among the winners at this year’s singapore prize was the NUS Singapore History Prize, which was introduced in 2014 and awards works that make a lasting impact on the understanding of the country’s past. The winner was nonfiction writer Jeremy Tiang for his work Sembawang, which looks at historical events from a layperson’s perspective. His book takes the reader through various communities of people who lived through Singapore’s leftist political movements and detentions.
Tiang spent five years researching and writing the book, which is based on interviews with many of the city’s former residents. His work is a “compelling and insightful narrative,” writes the jury, which was chaired by NUS Asia Research Institute distinguished fellow Kishore Mahbubani. The other members were novelist Meira Chand; economist Lam San Ling; historian Peter Coclanis; and archaeologist John Miksic, all of whom were chosen for their contributions to Singapore’s literary scene.
The NUS prize is the first of its kind to recognise writers who are able to communicate Singapore’s history in a compelling and engaging way, while also fostering reading in Singapore. The prize is a partnership between NUS and the National Library of Singapore.
The NUS prize is a welcome addition to the growing list of literary awards in Singapore, which also includes the Singapore Literature Prize and the Asian Literary Festival, among others. However, there is ongoing concern that state funding for the arts has been used as an instrument of censorship by withholding funding from dissenting voices. This is despite the fact that the prizes are designed to promote diversity, as well as to highlight outstanding achievements in Singapore’s art and literature. Nevertheless, the prize is an excellent opportunity for writers to connect with the Singapore audience and showcase their works. It is also a valuable platform for entrepreneurs to expand their businesses and build connections in Singapore.