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Recognising and supporting our literary talents

Speech by Mr Baey Yam Keng, Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth at the Golden Point Award 2017

07 November 2017

Mrs Rosa Daniel, Deputy Secretary (Culture) of MCCY and CEO of NAC;
Ms Sarah Martin, CEO of Arts House Limited;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

1. Good evening. I am pleased to join you at the 2017 Golden Point Award to recognise our literary talents and celebrate our creative writers.

2. Held in conjunction with the Singapore Writers’ Festival, the biennial Golden Point Award is Singapore’s premier creative writing competition for short story and poetry in our four official languages. This year, we received almost 700 entries, with the youngest entrant at 9 years old and the oldest at 78. This shows that you’re never too young or too old to start writing creatively.

3. Our creative writers are storytellers – their work helps to broaden our perspectives, to connect our past and present to the future, and stimulate reflection of our place in the world. They bring us on journeys of exploration, travelling through worlds both new and familiar. Through these stories, we come to discover more about ourselves and those around us. I believe it is important for us to encourage more storytellers across generations and across communities. They add to the richness and diversity in our literary and cultural landscape, and motivate us to consider and affirm our identity as Singaporeans.

4. At the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and the National Arts Council, we support our literary talents and promote greater diversity in SingLit – short for Singapore Literature – content across all four languages. We believe that SingLit is more relatable to Singaporeans as it is our voice. SingLit often captures instances of our everyday life, which mirrors our multicultural landscape. If not us, who else will tell our stories?

5. Many of our previous winners have continued to pursue literary careers, and carry on to contribute to the literary scene in Singapore. Some have also gone on to publish solo collections and edit anthologies.  The likes of Joshua Ip – a recipient of this year’s Young Artist Award – and Tania De Rozario have created works that have been recently shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize, while Farihan Bahron – the winner of both Malay Poetry and Short Story categories in 2015 – has launched his own publishing company, Unggun Creative, which champions Singapore Malay literature.

6. Writing matures with time, and improves with practice. Hence, I am encouraged to note that many writers this year have shown perseverance and commitment to improving their craft. For example, this year’s Malay Poetry first prize winner received an honourable mention in 2015, and the second prize in 2013. Similarly, this year’s first and second prize winners of the Tamil Short Story category both participated in previous editions of the competition. So if you don’t win this year, don’t give up; please try again next time!

7. To support our writers in achieving excellence, the NAC has a variety of grants and mentorship programmes, such as the Mentor Access Project, the 2016 Berita Harian-NAC Mencari Kristal, and the Beyond Words publication programme. The literary arts calendar in Singapore is also full of opportunities for writers. There are workshops and events organised by groups such as the National Book Development Council of Singapore, Sing Lit Station and Poetry Festival Singapore, to grow individual writers and a supportive literary community. These initiatives seek to help build a new generation of readers and writers, and raise awareness and appreciation for our literary arts.

8. In the spirit of Aram, the theme of this year’s Singapore Writers’ Festival, I would like to pose a challenge to all of us. Aram comes from an ancient text in Tamil which means “doing good”. It represents an ideal for all of us to work towards. My challenge to all our writers out there is this: let the stories you create help us navigate the complex world we live in today, and serve as a compass to a better and brighter future for us all.

9. Once again, congratulations to all our winners tonight! Thank you.

Last Updated: 09 November 2017

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