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We are saddened to hear that Dr Alan HJ Chan passed away on 29 November 2023. We are deeply grateful to him for his generous donation, which made this Book Prize possible.


The Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) is proud to present the inaugural Dr Alan HJ Chan Spirit of Singapore Book Prize. Made possible by a generous donation from Dr Alan HJ Chan, the Book Prize aims to recognise a work that best epitomises, inspires and promotes the Spirit of Singapore with a prize of S$30,000. The selection panel will include academics from SUSS and other Autonomous Universities, distinguished writers and critics, and publishers. Read the press release here.


The shortlist for the Singapore University of Social Sciences’ (SUSS’s) Dr Alan HJ Chan ‘Spirit of Singapore’ Book Prize 2023 has been announced.

In alphabetical order of book title, the judging panel’s top five selections are:

  1. SEBASTIAN SIM, And the Award Goes to Sally Bong!
  2. SYLVIA TOH PAIK CHOO et al., Eat Here Or Take Away? All About Singapore Hawker Culture
  3. WOON TAI HO, Soul of Ink: Lim Tze Peng at 100
  4. PEH SHING HUEI, Standing Tall: The Goh Chok Tong Years, Volume 2
  5. KHIR JOHARI, The Food of Singapore Malays: Gastronomic Travels Through the Archipelago

The winners will be announced at an awards dinner on 23 April 2024, at which SUSS Chancellor Mdm Halimah Yacob will be Guest of Honour.



About Dr Alan HJ Chan Spirit of Singapore Book Prize

Established through a generous SGD1million donation from Dr Alan HJ Chan to SUSS, the Book Prize aims to recognise the best spirit of creative writing in Singapore that has a significant impact on societal thinking or issues with Singapore as the backdrop, and evokes understanding and reflection about our community or inspires compassion, empathy, voluntarism and activism, resilience and holism towards building a Singapore identity or presents directions for the future development of our society or any intentions and outcomes that the work sets out to portray about the Singapore Spirit.   

A strong believer in education, Dr Chan completed the Advanced Management Program of Harvard University in July 1979 as a successful entrepreneur in his forties and was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by Bond University, Australia, in February 2014. The purpose of his gift for the Book Prize is to promote understanding and appreciation of the Spirit of Singapore and the importance of social good in the making of Singapore society.

The Spirit of Singapore is broadly defined as the mindset and values that have been indispensable in shaping the development of modern Singapore, such as equality, diversity, religious harmony, meritocracy, pragmatism, resilience, and an emphasis on education, innovation and community. The work could draw on our past, present and future directions for the development of our society.



Judging Panel

Professor Cheong Hee Kiat

Professor Cheong Hee Kiat

President Emeritus
President (2005 to 2022)

Singapore University of Social Sciences

Adjunct Professor Anthony Teo

Adjunct Professor Anthony Teo

Adjunct Professor
School of Business & S R Nathan School of Human Development
Singapore University of Social Sciences
Convenor and Editor
Univer-Cities Conference & Proceedings Volume I-IV

Mrs Triena Ong

Mrs Triena Ong

Book Editor

(Chief Judge)

Mr Abdullah Tarmugi

Mr Abdullah Tarmugi

Permanent Member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights
Mr Barry Desker

Mr Barry Desker

Distinguished Fellow
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS)

Nanyang Professor of Practice
Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

Associate Professor Thang Leng Leng

Associate Professor Thang Leng Leng

Head, Department of Japanese Studies & Co-Director, Next Age Institute, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
National University of Singapore
Dr Regina Lee

Dr Regina Lee

Head, English Language and Literature Programme

Mr Desmond Kon

Mr Desmond Kon

Senior Lecturer, Creative Writing & Publishing, English Division, School of Humanities
Nanyang Technological University
Mr Gene Tan

Mr Gene Tan

Chief Librarian & Chief Innovation Officer
National Library Board
  • The book must be the original work of an author or co-authors and be available in printed format. E-book format is welcome if this version is additionally available.
  • The book must be written in English. Translations of books written originally in other languages will not be eligible.   
  • The donor of the funds for the Book Prize wishes to promote Singapore and Singapore Permanent Resident authors.  The author(s) must be Singaporean or Singapore Permanent Resident(s), residing in Singapore or overseas.
  • The book must be issued by a publisher, i.e., not self-published.  Fiction and non-fiction are eligible. Textbooks, syllabus books and books used to develop curricula will not be accepted.  Biographies and autobiographies, not written by ghostwriters, are acceptable.
  • The publisher may be based in Singapore or overseas.
  • The book must have a significant Singapore element in its narrative.
  • A book previously submitted for judging may not be entered in future competitions in the Dr Alan HJ Chan Spirit of Singapore Book Prize series, unless it is a revised and updated edition. Books that have won awards in other competitions are eligible for this Book Prize.
  • The book must be available for sale or distribution to the public.
  • The book must be submitted by the publisher or by the author(s). If the entry is submitted by the publisher, this should be with the author’s/authors’ consent.
  • The publication date of the book must be within the stated period of (date/month/year) and (date/month/year) the award.  For the inaugural (2023) award, the books must have been published between 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2022.
  • The book must have an ISBN (International Standard Book Number).
  • The book must be submitted by the stated closing date.
  • Ten (10) complimentary copies of the printed book must be submitted for judging. The books will not be returned after judging.
  • There is no fee for submission.
  • Supporting documents, etc., must be provided as listed in the Submission Form.
  • Authors and publishers must jointly agree to the terms of the awards. All shortlisted authors must be available to attend the Awards Ceremony.
  • The prize money for the winning book will be given to the author(s).
  • The book is expected to meet high international standards. 
  • The panel of judges is appointed by SUSS.
  • Elements for judging include the quality of the content, creativity, relevance/impact of the Singapore element in the narrative, style and clarity of the writing, editorial input, design, images, production, printing, book promotion and marketing.
  • The judges’ decision will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • The best book will be selected by a panel of judges and will be awarded a Book Prize of S$30,000. The prize will be awarded to the author(s). The author(s) and publisher must be present at the award ceremony to receive the award.
  • Announcement of the award winner will be made only at the award ceremony.

The form should be printed out and submitted in hardcopy.

It should include:

  • Name of author(s) (both professional and official, if different), e-mail address, office/residential postal address, phone number, citizenship
  • Name of Publishing Director, name of publishing company, e-mail address, postal address, phone number, website link
  • Title and subtitle of the book
  • Synopsis about the book
  • Date of publication of the book
  • ISBN
  • Signed undertaking by the author(s) and publisher to accept the terms of the Book Prize and be available to attend the award ceremony in person

The following are to be submitted:

  • A completed Submission Form, in hardcopy with original signatures
  • 10 copies of the printed book and, if available, e-book access information (for a minimum of 10 readers)
  • CV(s) of the Author(s)
  • A covering letter from the Publisher or Author(s) justifying why this book epitomises the Spirit of Singapore and deserves to win the Book Prize

The judges include writers, literary critics, public figures, librarians, academics and publishers, amongst others. Members are:

  1. Cheong Hee Kiat (SUSS) (Chairman)
  2. Anthony Teo (SUSS) (Deputy Chairman)
  3. Triena Ong (Book Editor) (Chief Judge)
  4. Abdullah Tarmugi (Presidential Council for Minority Rights)
  5. Barry Desker (RSIS)
  6. Thang Leng Leng (NUS)
  7. Regina Lee (SUSS)
  8. Desmond Kon (NTU)
  9. Gene Tan (NLB)


In a tie, the Chief Judge will have the casting vote.

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