Singapore Prize 2021 Winners Announced

A solar-powered dryer, a soil carbon marketplace and groups that work to make electric car batteries cleaner and restore Andean forests were among the 15 winners of this year’s Earthshot Prize, which Britain’s Prince William launched in 2020. He called the solutions a “moonshot” to solve climate change and said they show that hope does exist as the world struggles with the consequences of human activity.

When announcing the 2021 winners, the NUS Singapore History Prize jury said it was drawn to Ms Hidayah’s book because “it is both a synthesis of history and a primary source, because of her personal inputs”. Ms Hidayah, who was born in Kampong Gelam and spent five years putting the book together, also credited the award as an affirmation that anyone who has lived through a proportion of their lives in the city of Singapore has the potential to write a history book.

The judging process was led by NUS Asia Research Institute distinguished fellow Kishore Mahbubani and a panel of judges comprising novelist Meira Chand; historian Peter Coclanis; economist Lam San Ling; and archaeologist John Miksic from the NUS Department of Southeast Asian Studies. The judges were encouraged to consider how each of the books enriched the field and helped shape Singapore’s social history.

In presenting the prize, Mr Mahbubani noted that nations are often shaped through a shared imagination that is reflected in how societies understand their past. It is thus crucial to have a well-written and accessible book that can help people to know about the nation’s past. “If we want to be a nation, we have to learn from our past,” he added.

The Singapore prizes were introduced in 1967 by the newly independent country’s Sports Council, which sought to encourage higher standards of sporting achievement and promote physical strength for nation-building. The inaugural awards went to swimmer Patricia Chan and athlete Tan Thuan Heng for their remarkable performances at the 1968 Southeast Asian Peninsular Games (now SEA Games), where they won 10 gold medals, four in record times.

The prize ceremony was held in conjunction with the opening of a week of events to spotlight the finalists and showcase their innovations for solving global environmental problems, such as biodiversity loss, air pollution and climate change. The finalists are invited to attend a series of events including a summit and an exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore, where they will present their projects to a wide audience. They are also given access to a network of mentors and investors to help accelerate their solutions.