In the spirit of altruism, the singapore prize is awarded to individuals and organisations who have put the common good above their own interests in difficult times. The award seeks to honour and encourage those who, even at great personal risk, go beyond what is expected of them. The winner of the prize receives a cash award and a plaque, in addition to the prestige that comes with it.
The inaugural prize was awarded to the NUS historian Prof Miksic for his work that traces the origin of Singapore. He found bits of historical information from literary records that suggest that Singapore existed before 1819, and that it may have been located at Temasek or Longyamen, which the Chinese traders named in their writings.
He also explains how Singapore grew and developed from its inception as a trading port to a modern city-state. He hopes that his book will help people understand how the city was founded, and what role it plays in Asia and the world. The Singapore history prize is open to all authors who write about the city’s history and culture, regardless of whether they are academics or non-academics.
Professor Kishore Mahbubani, the senior advisor (university and global relations) at NUS, said that there could be plans to expand the type of works that can qualify for the prize, including those on movies or other formats that can communicate Singapore’s history more effectively. He cited the movie 12 Years a Slave as an example, adding that sometimes history is better told through fiction than by factual books.
Another shortlisted work was the Kampung Admiralty housing development by WOHA Architects, which was designed to promote inter-generational bonding and active aging. It is a multi-storey apartment block with gardens, community spaces and pedestrian walkways linking each block. Its design and social impact are considered to be among the best in the world.
The other prize winners are:
In the film category, Vania on Lima Street by Bayu Prihantoro Filemon won best script and a cash prize of SGD5,000 from Filmgarde Cineplexes. The director’s citation read: “A drama of exceptional warmth and sensitivity that tells an important story about how we treat each other in a society where many migrants are still stranded.” Bopha Oul won the best performance, while the film won the audience’s favorite award. The film also won the best ensemble cast award. Rein Maychaelson and Gabriela Serrano won fellowship prizes that come with a residency or script mentorship from the Southeast Asian Film Lab for their films “Please Bear With Me” and “The Burning Land,” respectively. Gladys Ng received a special mention for her film, “Every Mall Burns the Same.”