The Singapore Prize – An Open Competition For Non-Academic History

The National University of Singapore has launched the third iteration of its history prize, an open global competition to encourage non-academic audiences to explore Singapore’s past. This year, the prize focuses on historical works with a personal slant that forgo the traditional view of history as a record of big movers and shakers. The winners will be announced in October 2021.

The inaugural winner of the new award was the book “Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300-1800” by archaeologist John Miksic, whose research into an area of the city-state’s coastline opened up a whole new avenue to explore the nation’s origins. The prize was introduced in 2014 as part of the celebrations for SG50. The idea was the brainchild of Kishore Mahbubani, Distinguished Fellow at NUS’ Asia Research Institute and the chair of this year’s prize jury panel. The award is supported by a private philanthropist and is funded through interest generated by an endowment fund.

For the first time, five writers were shortlisted in two or more categories in this year’s awards program. Clara Chow, a winner in the English fiction category last year, made it on the list for both the literary fiction and the English creative nonfiction categories. She is also the youngest writer ever to be shortlisted for this prize in its history.

Other authors on this year’s shortlist include the director of the Singapore Writers Festival, Yeow Kai Chai, who is vying for the literary fiction prize along with the director of the Poetry Society of Singapore, Mok Zining. Also on the list is Kamaladevi Aravindan’s novel Sembawang, which details life in a family estate across decades.

In line with the prize’s theme of sustainability, Prince William wore a 10-year-old dark green Alexander McQueen suit and dickie bow to the ceremony. He and other presenters walked down a “green carpet.” Actor Hannah Waddingham, who hosted the event at a theater owned by state-owned Media Corp, wore a flowing navy blue gown by McCartney, known for her eco-friendly clothing.

At a glittering ceremony at the theatre, performers One Republic and Bastille, as well as U.S. singer Bebe Rexha, entertained the audience. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, a trustee of the Earthshot prize’s board, attended the ceremony and was joined by other Singapore ministers. The 15 winners were selected in an elaborate ceremony at the Theatre at Mediacorp that highlighted how each of the finalists is working to address climate change by demonstrating their innovation projects. They were also able to demonstrate that hope still exists in the face of this global challenge. For more information about the prize, visit the official website.