The Winner of the Singapore Prize and the Shortlist Announced

The winner of the 2021 Singapore Prize – the first award dedicated to history in this city state – was archaeologist Prof John Miksic for his book Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300-1800. His work “is a fundamental reinterpretation of the history of Singapore and of Southeast Asia”, the judges said. Miksic found that ancient trading records, inscriptions and maps revealed that the island was an important trade hub from the 13th to the 18th century.

The shortlist for the Singapore Prize also included novels with a personal slant, such as Home Is Where We Are (2019, available here), by Jeremy Tiang. It traces a family’s journey in the 1950s, a period when many believed that the country’s future was up for grabs. Another book with a local bent, Leluhur: Singapore Kampong Gelam (2019, available here), by Hidayah Amin, is a “synthesis of history and primary source”, the citation reads. “It is my hope that it will affirm to the general public that they do not need to be professional historians to write about their country and its past.”

In other literary news, the winners of this year’s Singapore Book Awards have been announced. The awards are organised by the Singapore Book Publishers Association and recognise the best in local publishing. To be eligible, entries must be published in one of the four official languages in Singapore and hard copies must be legally deposited with the National Library Board. The prestigious Book of the Year title is chosen from subsidiary award winners.

Britain’s Prince William walked the green carpet at the third Earthshot prize ceremony in Singapore on Tuesday. The royal, who is a patron of the prize, praised the finalists’ inventions, which ranged from solar-powered dryers to combat food waste to making electric car batteries cleaner. He said the solutions showed that “hope does remain” as climate change takes its toll on the world. The ceremony was attended by celebrities such as Oscar winner Cate Blanchett and actors Donnie Yen, Lana Condor and Nomzano Mbatha. It also featured Australian wildlife conservationist Robert Irwin.

During his visit, the prince will meet Singaporeans working to protect wildlife and address illegal wildlife trade. It is estimated that this industry is worth $20 billion a year, according to his office. He will also take part in the United for Wildlife summit, which brings together law enforcement agencies and conservation organisations to discuss ways to tackle the problem. The prince is due to leave on Wednesday. He is in Singapore for the Asia-Pacific leg of his three-week tour. The tour will also see him attend the inaugural International Paralympic Games in Tokyo in September. It will be the first time the games are held in Asia since the Games were last hosted in Seoul in 1988. He will then head to Myanmar for his final stop on the trip. The event will be his first visit to the country since becoming a Commonwealth ambassador in 2017. He will join athletes and representatives from NGOs and government agencies in the country for the opening ceremony.