After a hiatus, the singapore prize has been revived. The award aims to promote the writing of books that champion mindsets and values important to the shaping of Singapore. These include equality, diversity, religious harmony, pragmatism and emphasis on education, innovation and community. It was established through a $1 million donation by Confucian scholar Alan Chan and is backed by Temasek Trust, the investment company Temasek, decarbonisation investment platform GenZero and Standard Chartered Bank.
The winner will receive a cash prize of $50,000 and a commissioned trophy. The other finalists will each win GBP 1 million in grant funding to accelerate their plans, which can be used across a wide range of sectors and causes. This year’s awards received a record-breaking 315 nominations, up by 33 per cent over last year. Winning initiatives focus on a broad spectrum of areas including racial and religious harmony, empowering at-risk youth, providing employment opportunities for communities in need, supporting mental health and paediatric palliative care. The winners were announced at a ceremony hosted by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) on August 25.
Besides the main prize, there are 12 other top prizes that come with a cash award of $10,000 and a trophy each. The submissions are judged by a panel of experts from the world of philanthropy and publishing, led by NUS Asia Research Institute distinguished fellow Kishore Mahbubani. The judges include novelist Meira Chand; economist Lam San Ling; historian Peter Coclanis; and archaeologist John Miksic.
For the first time, this year’s shortlist included a mix of fiction and non-fiction titles, with more than half of them written in a second language. This is a change from previous years, when only the English category saw competition between fiction and poetry. The winner was Kamaladevi Aravindan for Sembawang, the history of a Singaporean estate. Other winning titles included On the Ground: The History of a Singaporean Estate by Mark Chee, rma cureess by Rama Suresh and Snow at 5PM by Jee Leong Koh.
The inaugural Dr Alan HJ Chan Spirit of Singapore Book Prize was awarded on April 18 by the University of Social Sciences (SUSS). It was founded through a $1 million donation from the philanthropist and was mooted by NUS Asia Research Institute distinguished fellow Prof Mahbubani in a 2014 column for The Straits Times. The award will be given annually to a book on the history of Singapore, with the first one being launched in 2021.
The judging process for this year’s SLP was a three-stage process, involving the public, a jury of five NUS professors and a panel of industry experts. The finalists were Alllkunila, Innnpaa, Yeow Kai Chai and Wang Gungwu, all of whom are first-time winners. The winners will be presented with their awards at a ceremony in October, attended by the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong.