The NUS Prize for Singapore History

The world is curious about Singapore’s unique success story, and its citizens want to know more about their country’s past. In response to this demand, a new prize has been created to encourage scholarship on the nation’s history.

Awarded for scholarly works on Singapore, the NUS Prize for Singapore History will be presented next year. Submissions can be non-fiction or fiction, but must address a significant aspect of Singapore’s history. The deadline to submit a work is May 31.

This prize was established in 2014 to commemorate Singapore’s 50th anniversary and cultivate interest in its history, NUS Press senior advisor Kishore Mahbubani says. It aims to broaden definitions of history by allowing for writings that focus on different perspectives and themes. “We are also thinking about expanding the prize to include other mediums like movies and comics,” he says.

This year’s shortlist includes books on the 1950s, a key turning point for the island, and one that looks at the roots of modern Singaporean Malay cuisine. It also features a biography of the late entrepreneur and political figure Charlie Chan Hock Chye, and a graphic novel about the life of Singapore’s first female police officer.

The winner will receive a cash prize of S$50,000, and will be announced in October 2021. The award, which is one of Asia’s oldest, also aims to promote reading in Singapore. In addition to the monetary award, winners will be given opportunities to engage in public speaking and media appearances.

NUS professor Kishore Mahbubani, who is chairing the jury, points out that nations are primarily ‘imagined communities’ and a shared imagination, especially in history, holds them together today. Having an informed and engaging knowledge of a nation’s past is essential for fostering a healthy society, he adds.

Other prizes have been established to support research in specific fields. The Young Scientist Award (YSA)*, for instance, recognises talented and highly driven Singapore-based researchers, who demonstrate a strong drive to excel and have the potential to become world-class scientists.

Prince William recently unveiled the five recipients of the inaugural Earthshot Prize, which he launched three years ago to encourage innovators to develop technologies that protect the planet from climate change. To celebrate the event, he wore an old dark green suit by Alexander McQueen and other presenters walked a “green carpet” of recycled materials.