The finalists in the 2023 Singapore Prize have been revealed, with winners in categories such as nature protection, clean air, ocean revival and waste elimination. Britain’s Prince William walked the “green carpet” at the awards ceremony and said that the solutions presented by the finalists demonstrate that “hope does remain” as climate change continues to devastate parts of the world. Celebrities including actress Cate Blanchett and actors Donnie Yen and Lana Condor joined him on the green carpet at the first Earthshot Award ceremony held in Asia. Winners were presented with catalytic funding to scale their environmental solutions.
This year, 192 submissions were received by the prize program in its four languages: English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. That’s 32 fewer titles than the number submitted in 2020 and is believed to reflect the impact of the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic on publishing in Singapore. Despite the lower submission levels, the prize program remains committed to recognizing and celebrating Singapore’s literature and culture, and its finalists are a good example of the diverse topics covered.
A new prize this year, the Dr Alan HJ Chan Spirit of Singapore Book Prize, celebrates books that champion mindsets and values that have been important to shaping Singapore. SUSS, which operates the prize program, lists the values of “equality, diversity and religious harmony, meritocracy, resilience and an emphasis on education, innovation and community” as some of these values. The citation for this year’s prize lauded Ms Hidayah’s Leluhur: Singapore Kampong Glam as an example of such a book.
In the upcoming edition of the prize, the book must have significant Singapore elements in its narrative and be written in English by a Singaporean or permanent resident. It must have been published between 2021 and 2023, and be available for sale or distribution. Previous winners of the prize in its different incarnations have included graphic novelist Sonny Liew’s The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye (2015), which won the English fiction category in 2016.
In addition to this year’s Singapore Prize, this month also saw the return of the Readers’ Favorite exercise in which the public votes online for their favorite shortlisted book in each language. The public can choose from a choice of 49 shortlisted titles, and the winner in each language will receive $1,000 in book vouchers. Readers can find more information on the prizes, this year’s shortlisted authors and their works, and the book voucher giveaway on the program’s website. Unlike the book industry, where contests are generally not legal, in Singapore, prize promotions and competitions can be conducted legally when participants do not pay to participate. The rules are set out in the Betting and Sweepstake Duties Act, which states that a promotion or contest is legal if: — there is no payment from a participant to take part; — participants do not pay money for a chance of winning a prize, unless it’s deemed as an appropriate form of advertising for the product or service being promoted.