Singapore Prize Adds New Categories For Translation, Comics and Debut Writers

ASIA’S most prestigious home-grown literary prize for published works has added three new categories this year – for translation, comics and debut writers – to help recognise a growing diversity of writing in Singapore’s four languages. Award organiser Singapore Book Council (SBC) said on Jan 11 that the new categories help “acquire a wider readership for books in the language spectrum” and recognise the growing interest in writing by Singaporeans of all ages.

The prizes were announced at a glitzy awards ceremony at Mediacorp Theatre, hosted by actresses Hannah Waddingham and Sterling K Brown with singers Bastille and OneRepublic and US actor Bebe Rexha performing. Britain’s Prince William, who is chairman of the Earthshot Foundation board, walked the “green carpet” wearing a 10-year-old dark green blazer from Alexander McQueen, and presented this year’s five winners whose solutions ranged from solar-powered dryers to combat food waste and making electric car batteries cleaner. The awards ceremony also included appearances by celebrities including Cate Blanchett, Lana Condor and Donnie Yen, with the prince noting that the solutions shown by the 15 finalists offer hope as the planet faces climate change.

In its first year, the NUS History Prize went to archaeologist John Miksic for his work on the discovery of ancient artefacts in Singapore’s waters. The prize’s organising committee says it hopes to broaden the definition of history by welcoming writings on different time periods and themes relating to Singapore’s past. In addition to the prize, the NUS History Prize will also hold workshops and events for the public in future.

The winner will be selected by a jury panel consisting of five members. Kishore Mahbubani, the director of NUS Asia Research Institute and a former foreign minister of Singapore, is among them. The panel will review submissions from writers and publishers of historical works. The first three finalists will be shortlisted in 2022 and the winner will be announced in 2024.

In his speech, the prince quoted American social scientist Benedict Anderson who said nations are ‘imagined communities’ and that the shared imagination of people through literature is a key glue holding societies together today. He added that the prize, which carries a cash prize of $30,000 and a commissioned trophy, will encourage more Singaporeans to write about the country’s rich heritage and culture in their own words.

The 21st Singapore Prestige Brand Awards (SPBA) was held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel on Wednesday evening. Twenty-nine local businesses ranging from heritage names to regional players were recognised at the event. Healthcare provider StarMed Specialist Centre was named the overall winner in the Promising Brands category. Other winners in the same category included construction firm Craftwork and co-living company Coliwoo. This is the third year that SPBA has been a joint effort by Asme and Lianhe Zaobao. The SPBA is a platform to honour Singapore’s successful businesses for their strong branding and marketing initiatives. The competition was first launched in 2002. It was previously called the Branding Excellence Award.