The NUS Singapore Prize – The Prince of Wales Visits Singapore

The NUS Singapore History Prize was set up in 2014, with the inaugural award going to archaeologist Prof John Miksic for his book, “Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300-1800.” It is awarded every three years. The idea came from an opinion column by Professor Kishore Mahbubani in the Straits Times newspaper calling for a prize to reward the best historical works on Singapore. He was surprised when a philanthropist responded a few months later to donate the amount of S$500,000, which is now placed in an endowment fund.

Miksic’s book examines the interaction between Singapore and other parts of Asia from the early modern period to 1840 when the city-state became an important port. He drew on his extensive fieldwork experience of excavations in Fort Canning and Empress Place, among others. He also studied ancient texts and consulted with scholars from around the world. “My goal was to present the discovery of Singapore as a major site of Southeast Asian and global history, not just of a small, isolated island,” he said.

The winning book must be about a topic or theme of relevance to the local community and the wider international arena. It should be of exceptional quality in terms of research, writing and presentation. In addition, it should be a valuable resource for local readers and students, as well as for researchers, historians and other interested audiences.

This year’s shortlist of titles includes Imperial Creatures (2019, available here), a look at the relationship between humans and animals in colonial Singapore; Sembawang, which follows the story of an extended family through leftist political movements and detentions; Home Is Where We Are, a memoir by National Institute of Education senior lecturer Anitha Devi Pillai, who helped her mother Kamaladevi research and write it; and The Last Tree on Earth, which is about preserving biodiversity in urban environments.

At Changi Airport, William stood on an upper floor for a stunning view of the 40-metre high Rain Vortex – the world’s largest indoor waterfall that was illuminated green to welcome him. He was also shown a tree planted in his honour in the indoor garden at the foot of the waterfall.

During his visit to Singapore, the Prince of Wales will also host events to spotlight the 2023 winners and finalists of the Earthshot Prize – an initiative launched by his Royal Foundation charity in 2020 to promote innovations that are helping to tackle climate change. This will include the award ceremony and a summit on conservation work organised by United for Wildlife, the organization that he founded in 2014. He will also travel to the world’s tallest indoor waterfall and largest glass greenhouse at The Jewel in Changi. He will also meet with representatives of organisations tackling pandemic preparedness, and speak to young people at the Singapore Science Festival. In the evening, he will join a dinner hosted by the Prime Minister’s Office.