A new prize has been launched to recognise local fiction and non-fiction. The singapore prize has a pot of $30,000, the highest for a literary award in Singapore. The first winner, Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300-1800, by archaeologist John Miksic, is hailed as an important work that has triggered a fundamental reinterpretation of the nation’s history. It also sheds light on a thriving community in Singapore that existed long before Sir Stamford Raffles set foot here in 1819.
The prize was inspired by an opinion column that NUS Asia Research Institute distinguished fellow Kishore Mahbubani wrote in April 2014, calling on philanthropists to offer a cash prize for the best book written about Singapore’s history. A donor soon responded, offering S$500,000 and putting the money in an endowment to be used for the annual book prize.
Prof Mahbubani was among the jury panel that picked the first prize winner. “We wanted to give a signal to the general public that you don’t have to be a professional historian to write about Singapore history,” he said. “Anybody who’s lived through a proportion of their lives here has the potential to tell our story, our narrative, our legacy.”
The judges described the book as a “synthesis of the evidence” and a primary source, thanks to the contributions from Ms Hidayah. They also noted how the book was elegantly crafted and well-researched. The prize is accompanied by a certificate and a specially commissioned trophy.
Other winners included the film, Leluhur: Singapore Kampong Gelam, by director and actress Laha Mebow. Its citation said the jury was moved by its “warmth and sensitivity” in depicting the everyday lives of people in the community. It commended the cast of non-professional actors for their performances.
Several creative proposals stood out for their high-quality concepts and visions of a progressive future, the judges said. These include a generative floating metropolis that is driven by weather, demographic, and flight data, as well as the use of dating app data to explore human connection in the age of digital disruption. Fashion artist Jamela Law, who hails from Hong Kong, proposed a collaborative space for fashion co-designing that promotes empathy, healing and dialogue on mental health and trauma.
Ukrainian violinist Dmytro Udovychenko won the 2022 Singapore International Violin Competition, which comes with a prize of USD $50,000. He defeated Danish violinist Anna Agafia Egholm and Hong Kong/Chinese violinist Angela Sin Ying Chan.