A new award aims to boost Singapore’s literary scene by honouring books that have had an impact on the nation’s understanding of its history. The singapore prize has a pot of $30,000, the highest for any literary award in the country. The inaugural winner is archaeologist John Miksic, whose book Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300-1800, has been hailed as an important work that has triggered “a fundamental reinterpretation” of the nation’s history. It sheds light on a thriving community that existed here long before Sir Stamford Raffles set foot in Singapore in 1819.
Miksic is one of 29 authors who had submitted their works for consideration. He won over a four-man panel comprising historian Wang Gungwu, NUS Asia Research Institute distinguished fellow Kishore Mahbubani and entrepreneur Claire Chiang. The panel’s decision was based on how the books have touched on aspects of Singapore history that are not easily accessible to the general public.
The book also challenges the common perception that history is a story of big movers and shakers. It draws on the contributions of a group of ordinary Singaporeans and examines their daily lives in the 1960s. The judges praised its synthesis of evidence and its use of primary sources. They also lauded its elegant style, describing it as “a study in the art of narrative”.
Other notable winners include WOHA Architects for its Kampung Admiralty senior housing development. The project, which won the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize in July 2018, was praised for its modern expression of Singapore’s heritage and spirit and its emphasis on intergenerational bonding and active aging. The development consists of two 11-story blocks designed to encourage social interaction between different generations through shared spaces and activities.
Last but not least, the Dreams Asia Breakthrough Prize ceremony was held on May 4. 63 teams had entered this year’s competition, which seeks innovative breakthrough solutions to alleviate poverty in Singapore. The top five teams won cash prizes and mentorships to bring their ideas to life.
The first event of 2022, a Singapore international violin competition, saw Ukrainian violinist Dmytro Udovychenko win the first prize, with Danish violinist Anna Agafia Egholm taking second and Hong Kong/Chinese violinist Angela Sin Ying Chan taking third. The competition was held at the National University of Singapore’s School of Performing Arts.