The Winners of the 2023 Singapore Prize

The winners of the 2023 singapore prize were revealed at a glitzy ceremony at the state-owned Mediacorp Theatre on Tuesday night. Prince William hosted the awards, which are run by his Earthshot charity to fund innovative solutions to global environmental challenges. The prince wore a sharp dark green suit and dickie bow while host Hannah Waddingham wore a black sparkling ball gown with a sash that perfectly matched the thick green carpet they walked down together.

The winning entries — which ranged from a book about the origins of Singapore to an app that detects audiovisual fake media — were selected by a panel of five judges. The panel included historian and NUS Asia Research Institute distinguished fellow Kishore Mahbubani; archaeologist and historian John Miksic, who won the history category for his work on how Singapore may have begun; curator Suhaili Osman; academic Peter Coclanis; and writer Meira Chand.

Prof Miksic’s book, which delves into the question of when Singapore was founded, earned praise for “laying the foundations of a fundamental reinterpretation of Singapore’s history” and for “uncovering a rich heritage of archaeological evidence.” He explained that his work stemmed from his own fascination with Southeast Asian studies in the 1980s, when he discovered references in literary records to places such as Temasek and Longyamen, which scholars now believe refer to Singapore.

A winner was also named in each of the nonfiction categories and the poetry category, which featured works by the current and former directors of the Singapore Writers Festival. The nonfiction categories had a scholarly feel, with works by historians and geographers vying against those by journalists and sociologists.

For the poetry category, finalists included Yeow Kai Chai and Mok Zining. The shortlist for the nonfiction category was made up of works with a personal slant, including Leluhur: The Hidden History of Kampong Gelam by Hidayah Amin (2019, available here), which focuses on the heritage royal building in central Singapore’s Kampong Glam district that most people know as a tourist attraction.

The prizes were formally presented by the prince at the glitzy ceremony. The event was held at the same venue where the World Architecture Festival, which crowned a new global design champion this year, is being held from Nov 16 to 22. The prince toured the venue and met designers and architects from all over the world. He also attended a summit hosted by the United for Wildlife charity, which brought together law enforcement officers and conservation groups to discuss ways to stop the illegal trade in wildlife products. The summit is the first time a major event like this has been held in Asia. The prince will visit Singapore again next week to meet government officials and local people working on environmental issues. He will take part in a dragon boat race and a workshop on the sustainable production of food, as well as visit the Istana palace, one of Singapore’s oldest heritage sites. He will also see the work being done by local organisations to tackle climate change and protect endangered species.