The finalists of this year’s singapore prize have been announced. They include an author who has written about the sarong kebaya, the Singapore Botanic Gardens and the Bukit Ho Swee fire, as well as a historian who has looked at how people have shaped the city-state over its 50 years of independence.
The winner of the 2023 Earthshot Prize will be honoured in November in Singapore. The award ceremony will be held as part of “Earthshot Week,” which “will see global leaders, businesses and investors convene in Singapore to explore exciting opportunities with The Earthshot Prize Winners and Finalists, aimed at accelerating their solutions and bringing about tangible action to repair the planet”.
Aside from giving the winners PS1 million to scale up their environmental ventures, the prize will also provide mentorship and training through a network of experts. The prize will be presented by the National University of Singapore’s Department of History, with support from Temasek Trust, GenZero and Conservation International.
In addition to the main prizes, there will also be 12 runner-up prizes of up to $10,000 each. These will be awarded to works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry in each of the four official languages: Chinese, English, Malay and Tamil. There will be a winner for each language, although in previous years the competition has only had one top prize.
As a result, this year’s shortlist has an unusually wide range of topics. Besides the book on the history of the sarong kebaya, there are books on the sylvia platyrhynchid plant and a historical account of the Bukit Ho Swee fire. Another work examines the history of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, while a third book looks at how the city-state’s unique location and its position as a trade hub has shaped it over the decades.
NUS Asia Research Institute distinguished fellow Kishore Mahbubani is the chairman of this year’s jury. He says that he wants the prize to be a catalyst for discussion about how we can better understand the past. “We know that a shared imagination about our common history is an essential ingredient for the strength of nations,” he wrote in a recent column.
This is the second time that a Singapore-based book has made it onto the list of nominees for the prize. Last year, it was The White Ribbon: Towards a Just World, by Joanna MacGregor and David Atkinson. The winner will be announced at the awards ceremony in Singapore on November 6. Neither Prince William nor Kate Middleton are expected to attend, but they have both previously visited the country. In 2012, they attended a celebration for Singapore’s Diamond Jubilee. The event was attended by 10,000 people, including Mahbubani and the founder of the prize, former astronaut and US Presidential hopeful Elon Musk. The event was hosted by NUS’ Department of History and was sponsored by the National Heritage Board and the Singapore Economic Development Board. It was broadcast live around the world and has been seen by millions of viewers worldwide.