Singapore Prize 2023

A global environmental prize backed by Britain’s Prince William will be held in Singapore next month. The 2023 awards ceremony for the Earthshot Prize will be held in November, and organisers say it will showcase “the very best of what we as a global community can achieve together”. The prize is aimed at showing that solutions to climate change are already available, and they can scale rapidly. It will also encourage the international public to take action. The winners and finalists will be able to accelerate their solutions by joining forces with Singapore’s business leaders, investors and civil society organisations. They will also have the opportunity to engage with young people, a key audience group, through local activations. The prize will be accompanied by a series of events, including a ‘Earthshot Week’. The event will be held over a week, and the winners will be joined by experts from around the world, said Ms Jo Jones, the founder of the prize. The week will feature events in Singapore, Hong Kong and China, as well as regional workshops and local activations.

The prize will be awarded to non-fiction and fiction works with a strong historical focus. It will be administered by the Department of History at NUS, and is open to publishers of books published between January 2017 and 30 November 2020. Submissions must be authored or co-authored, and address a period of history in Singapore.

NUS Asia Research Institute distinguished fellow Kishore Mahbubani, who mooted the prize in a Straits Times column, says: “The prize recognises the importance of imagination, especially in history. Nations are imagined communities, and the shared imagination in history is a critical glue holding societies together today.”

One of the works shortlisted this year, The Sembawang River (2017, available here) by Jeremy Tiang, tackles a tumultuous time in Singapore’s history. The book focuses on the 1950s, a time when the future of the country seemed up for grabs and “to ordinary citizens, it felt like a moment of hope.”

Other work with a strong historical slant on the shortlist includes Leluhur: Singapore’s Kampong Gelam (2019, available here) by Hidayah Amin. The book, which was written with her mother Kamaladevi Pillai, looks at history from a layperson’s perspective and examines what it meant to average people.

Other shortlisted works include the film Gaga by Laha Mebow, which won a brace of Golden Horse awards. The film is about the struggle of a woman with cerebral palsy to overcome a series of obstacles in her life. The shortlist also includes a film that follows the experiences of migrant workers in Singapore, and another that chronicles the lives of two sisters separated by political movements. The winner of the best Singapore short film will receive a cash prize of SGD5,000, along with a production services package worth SGD15,000 from Shooting Gallery Asia and an online, audio post and DCP package, audio final mix and DCP feature worth SGD10,000 from Mocha Chai Laboratories.