Singapore has long been known for its impressive success story: outstanding school grades and government scholarships leading to top jobs at prized government ministries. But according to rice media columnist Lee Chen’s book that won him the SG50 Singapore Prize, achieving greatness involves much more than having excellent grades or passports; greatness lies in making a positive difference through work that matters, while maintaining an idealistic sense of mission and purpose in life.

Kishore Mahbubani, dean of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and NUS Asia Research Institute Distinguished Fellow, introduced the idea for a Singapore history prize last year in a Straits Times column. On Jan 1 this year, it was officially announced and launched by NUS department of history; worth S$50,000 it accepts both non-fiction and fiction works that explore any period, theme or field of Singapore history; submissions must also include substantial aspects of Singaporean history within their overall story arc.

Mahbubani believes the prize will help define and connect us more intimately to our national identity and history. A panel comprising scholars in fields including history, art, culture, literature and social sciences- including Professor Ian Gordon from NUS Department of History; Prof Seng Guo Quan from Assistant Professor in Chinese Studies NUS; author/educator Beatrice Chong will select their winner who will be announced publicly by October.

NUS University has established the inaugural Singapore History Prize worth S$50,000 in honour of 50th Anniversary of Independence of Singapore. Open to both fiction and non-fiction works published from Jun 1-2024 from any country but must be in English (or its translation) or be submitted with English translation as the primary language.

Professor Michael Ludwig from Vienna University of Technology in Austria is the inaugural recipient of the SG50 Singapore Prize for History for his research into the spread and impact of rice throughout Southeast Asia as a key ingredient of Asian cooking. Dr. Ludwig’s work explores the history of rice through trade routes between East and West as well as how it became an ingredient for global cuisines. According to Professor Ludwig’s citation: “Prof Ludwig has provided an essential contribution towards understanding food’s role in an increasingly multi-cultural world.” Find more details of the NUS Singapore History Prize here. NUS boasts a rich tradition in history studies with distinguished professors and lecturers teaching and conducting ground-breaking research in this discipline. We take immense pleasure in honouring the contributions and supporting the efforts of Singapore researchers, pushing back the limits of scientific inquiry here and abroad. The President’s Science and Technology Awards (PSTA) is Singapore’s highest honour bestowed upon scientists and engineers for upholding research excellence.