Singapore Prize for Historical Writing and SG50 Dreams Asia Breakthrough Prize for Innovative Solutions to Poverty

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The first-ever Singapore Prize for Historical Writing went to Prof Miksic’s book, Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300-1800. The prize, launched in 2014 in support of the SG50 programme to mark Singapore’s golden jubilee, is given out every year. It carries a cash prize of S$50,000. The prize was the brainchild of NUS East Asian Institute distinguished fellow Kishore Mahbubani. He wrote in a 2014 column that he would like to see philanthropists give out a prize for the best history book written about Singapore, and a few months later a private citizen donated S$500,000 into an endowment fund for the award.

Mahbubani was part of the four-member panel that picked this year’s winners. In addition to Miksic’s work, the shortlisted titles included a book about the Sembawang estate and another that recounted the lives of an extended family through leftist political movements.

In announcing the results, jury chair Lav Diaz said: “It is gratifying to see that our community has continued to come together during the COVID-19 pandemic to celebrate cinema.” The shortlist of 49 works was drawn from 192 submissions. The winners will be announced at a ceremony at Victoria Theatre on August 25. Veteran writer Edwin Thumboo will be conferred the SBC Achievement Award.

Among this year’s prize categories is the inaugural SG50 Dreams Asia Breakthrough Prize for Innovative Solutions to Poverty, a $500,000 prize awarded to teams that develop new approaches to poverty alleviation in Singapore. The 63 teams that submitted ideas for the competition were split into eight shortlisted teams, which were provided with seed funding of $25,000 each to develop their solutions over six months. They were given access to mentors, potential funders and coaching sessions.

The other three winning entries were the generative floating metropolis by the Danish architect Kaj Krn, a work driven by weather, demographic and flight data by American artist Jamela Law, and a fashion co-designing initiative by Hong Kong designer Mocha Chai Laboratoryies. Each of the shortlisted entries ‘impressed us with their high-quality concepts and visions of a progressive future’, Julius Baer Group’s head of Asia Pacific Jimmy Lee said.

The winner of the coveted singapore prize will perform with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Joshua Tan at a concert on December 14. The other finalists are Dmytro Udovychenko, Anna Agafia Egholm and Angela Sin Ying Chan. This year’s competition jury is comprised of Qian Zhou (Chair), Martin Beaver, Martin Engstroem, Lee Kyung Sun, Mihaela Martin, Joel Smirnoff and Tsu Vera Weiling.