The Singapore prize is awarded every two years to a writer or artist who has made a significant contribution to Singapore’s history. The aims of the award are to stimulate an engagement with Singapore’s history broadly understood (including pre-1819) and works dealing with Singapore’s place in the world, and to cast a wide net for consideration of works that deal with history in various mediums.
In 2013, the inaugural winner of the Singapore History Prize was archaeologist John N. Miksic, for his book Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300-1800. The prize carries a cash award of S$3,000, a special hand-crafted trophy and a 12-month gift code to audiobook platform StoryTel.
A number of Singaporean writers took home the Readers’ Favourite award at this year’s singapore prize, with Ali bin Salim, Daryl Qilin Yam, Pan Zheng Lei (Pan Cheng Lui) and rmaa cureess all taking home cash prizes of S$1,000. The four winners also received book-purchase vouchers worth S$50 each from the organisers, Time Out Singapore.
This year’s readers’ favourite award saw more than 4,000 voters vote in this round, up from the 2020 cohort of voters. The four writers – Ali bin Salim, Daryl Qilin Yom, Pan Zheng Lei and rmaa cureess – each receive a cash prize of S$1,000 and their voters stand to win book-purchase vouchers worth 50 Singapore dollars.
The prize also recognises a number of authors who have written acclaimed monographs about Singapore’s history, as well as several artists who have enriched the visual landscape of this city-state. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in January.
Professor Wang Tao Wei, Director of NUS’s Institute of Historical Studies, said that the prize is a “proactive way to encourage and reward new research on Singapore’s past”. He added that it lays the groundwork for a “fundamental reinterpretation” of the history of this island nation.
Throughout its lifespan, the Singapore prize has awarded more than a hundred writers and artists for their work. Some of the prize’s earliest recipients, such as Prof Miksic, have gone on to publish award-winning monographs in subsequent years.
There are also a number of notable names who have taken up the challenge to explore and illuminate Singapore’s past, including archaeologist John N. Miksic, whose work in the field of history has been cited for its originality and excellence.
He has published over 100 books in English, Chinese and Japanese and has collaborated with many different international writers. He is a member of the American Society for Asian Archaeology and has also served as a visiting faculty at NUS.
The award was established to honour Mr Mahbubani’s passion for Singapore’s history, and to promote a greater understanding of the region’s heritage among Singaporeans and the general public. It is also meant to foster a sense of community for Singapore’s citizens who share an interest in the island’s rich cultural and political past.
In addition to its biennial awards, the Singapore prize also hosts a series of events for the literary arts. These include the Singapore Literature Prize, which has awarded more than 90 writers, and the annual National Arts Festival, held in May each year. The Singapore Literature Prize has been in operation since 1962 and is one of the most prestigious writing prizes in Asia.