The Winner of the 2023 Singapore Prize

The winner of this year’s Singapore prize is Prof Miksic, whose book has sparked a “fundamental reinterpretation” of the country’s history. He has uncovered bits and pieces of information such as references to a port in a Chinese text, and the discovery of a grave near Fort Canning that suggest the existence of Singapore before 1819.

He was also instrumental in establishing the Singapore History Prize, which rewards books on the nation’s past. Kishore Mahbubani, senior adviser (university and global relations) at NUS, said that the prize could expand in future to include fiction, movies and comic books, as these may sometimes tell our history more effectively.

In keeping with the sustainability theme of this year’s award, the ceremony was held at a theatre owned by state-owned Media Corp. Presenter William wore a 10-year-old dark green suit by Alexander McQueen, while actress Yen wore a navy blue gown by Stella McCartney – both known for their eco-friendly fashion. Other celebrities walked the “green carpet” dressed in recycled clothes. The bands One Republic and Bastille, as well as US singer Bebe Rexha, performed at the event.

This year, the prize has added a new category called Singapore Lifetime Achievement Prize to celebrate individuals who have made a significant contribution to the development of Singapore through their work. It is awarded to those who have made exceptional contributions to advancing Singapore’s development and who have played a strategic role in the promotion of science and technology (S&T). This includes achievements generally acknowledged by the S&T community as being significant and impactful, but does not include research accomplishments that are at an early stage and not yet ready for commercialisation.

The 2023 edition of the Singapore prize is supported by partners including Temasek Trust, investment platform GenZero and conservation organisation Conservation International. The organisers hope that this collaboration will help amplify the solutions needed to tackle climate change.

In addition to a new category for the Singapore Prize, this year’s event features several other changes. For instance, all shortlisted works in the poetry and the creative nonfiction categories are by debut authors. The other changes include the Best Debut award being introduced for all the genres, as well as a new translation category that has been opened up for submissions this year. This is the first time that the competition has introduced this additional category. Previous winners of the Singapore Prize have included poet Marylyn Tan, historian Wang Gungwu, and Malay writer Suratman Markasan. The other categories remain the same, however.