The Winner of the 2021 Singapore Prize

The winner of the singapore prize was revealed at a lavish awards ceremony on Tuesday, hosted by three-time Emmy-winning actor Sterling K. Brown and actress Hannah Waddingham at the theater of Singapore state-owned Media Corp. Actors Nomzamo Mbatha and Donnie Yen, singers Bastille and Bebe Rexha, and conservationists Cate Blanchett and Robert Irwin were among the many celebrities who attended. The event was presented by the Prince of Wales’s Earthshot Initiative, which seeks to inspire optimism in tackling the world’s most urgent climate change challenges.

Founded by the Prince of Wales in 2020, Earthshot brings together people from all walks of life and across all sectors of society to drive action on climate change. It honors the innovative, ambitious, and creative solutions being driven by individuals around the world, amplifying their efforts so that others can hear and support them.

This year’s prize was awarded to Accion Andina, an organization in Peru that works with communities to protect their high Andean forest ecosystems, which are critical for wildlife and people alike. The project aims to ensure that indigenous families continue to have access to forests, food and water sources, and a sustainable income from timber and other products produced in these forests.

The citation for the 2021 NUS Singapore History Prize, given by a panel of judges including historian Wang Gungwu, academic Khoo Gaik Cheng and filmmaker Lucky Kuswandi, lauded Prof Miksic’s book, which examines the cultural and intellectual legacy of Singapore’s founding fathers. “The book not only draws on a wide range of primary and secondary sources, but also introduces new perspectives to the study of Singapore’s early modern past,” it read.

“It is not just an assemblage of facts and figures, but a deeply personal and intimate account of the author’s journey through Singapore’s history,” the citation added. “The work offers an important window into the country’s complex and fascinating history.”

Miksic’s research in Singapore began with a test excavation at Fort Canning in 1984, which turned up glass shards and pottery that showed that a community lived here before Sir Stamford Raffles set foot in the city in 1819. A few more excavations over the years yielded more finds, confirming that Singapore was a trading center in the 1300s. He has written four books to date, including the one that won this prize.

He said he hopes the prize will encourage other Singaporeans to write about their homeland. “You don’t need to be a professional historian,” he said, “anyone who has spent a significant part of their lives in Singapore has an important story to tell.” There may even be plans in the future to expand what can qualify for the award, such as including fiction or movies, he added. “History can sometimes be told more effectively through different formats.” he said. “This is something that will be under discussion.” The next edition of the prize will be held in 2023. It will be presented in conjunction with the Inside World Festival of Interiors.