Singapore Prize

Singapore Prize is awarded annually to a book that makes a significant contribution to our understanding of Singapore’s history and the world. The book may be non-fiction or fiction. It can address any time period, theme or field of study relating to Singapore’s history. In addition to books, works such as movies, plays and comic books may also be nominated as long as they have clear historical themes relating to Singapore.

The prize was established in 2024 to entice writers and publishers to produce outstanding titles that enrich our appreciation of Singapore’s rich heritage. The prize has since become one of the most coveted literary awards in the country. It is presented by the National University of Singapore (NUS) to a book that has made a significant contribution to our understanding of Singapore’s rich heritage and the world.

Each year, a book is selected for the prize by a panel of judges comprising academics and professionals from the field of history and beyond. The book should have clear links to Singapore’s past and present, and be of interest to a wide audience.

Winners receive a cash prize, certificate and a trophy. They will also be given the opportunity to present their work at a public event and to contribute to the research and development of Singapore-related history. The winners are also encouraged to use the prize money as seed money to help them continue their research.

In an interview with The Straits Times, NUS Asia Research Institute distinguished fellow Kishore Mahbubani, who mooted the idea for the prize in a newspaper column, explained that the prize was inspired by Benedict Anderson’s assertion that nations are “imagined communities”. Mahbubani added that shared histories act as a critical glue holding societies together today.

NUS is a global research university with a reputation for excellence in a broad spectrum of disciplines, including the arts, business and social sciences. The university’s students, faculty and staff are renowned for their accomplishments both locally and internationally.

A large percentage of the NUS community consists of international students from over 100 countries around the world. The university offers a broad range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, as well as professional master’s degrees and PhD research programmes in collaboration with overseas universities.

During his visit to Singapore, the heir to the British throne climbed up an upper level of Changi Airport’s Rain Vortex, the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, to view the view from above. He was also shown a tree planted in his honour at the foot of the waterfall.

The awards were introduced in 1967 by the Sports and Recreation Council, the predecessor to the Singapore Olympic and Sports Council (SOSC). The founding president of SOSC, Minister for Social Affairs Othman Wok, hoped that through the awards, sports would promote physical health and strength among the people, which in turn could aid nation-building. A total of 57 awards were minted in the first five years of the competition.