The Cultural Medallion, Singapore's highest honour in the arts, was awarded to writer Djamal Tukimin and composer Law Wai Lun yesterday.
President Halimah Yacob presented the two pioneers with the award at a ceremony held yesterday eveningat the Istana.
Djamal, 71, is lauded not just for his multifarious works of Malay poetry, fiction and plays, but also for his efforts in literary criticism, research and archiving of Malay literature.
"This is not just recognition but a special appreciation from the Government of writers like me," he said, adding that he hopes to make use of the award's resources to organise literary gatherings for the exchange of ideas and to publish more novels, poetry and compilation works.
Law's compositions for Chinese orchestra are considered key in shaping the Nanyang music style. His epic works have been performed at large-scale events such as the Singapore Arts Festival, Huayi Festival and the National Day Parade.
"I am very moved by this award," said the 73-year-old. "It will spur me to work harder, so as not to let down the honour the award has conferred upon me."
The Cultural Medallion recognises individuals for their artistic excellence, as well as their contribution and commitment to Singapore's arts and cultural landscape.
This is not just recognition but a special appreciation from the Government of writers like me.
WRITER DJAMAL TUKIMIN
I am very moved by this award. It will spur me to work harder, so as not to let down the honour the award has conferred upon me.
COMPOSER LAW WAI LUN
Since it was established in 1979, it has been awarded to 121 artists in the fields of film, literary arts, performing arts and visual arts.
Each recipient will be able to access the Cultural Medallion Fund of up to $80,000.
At the ceremony, four artists aged 35 and below were also presented with the Young Artist Award by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.
The award, which recognises and encourages the development of young artistic talents, was given to poet Joshua Ip, 35, dancer Yarra Ileto, 34, conductor Wong Kah Chun, 31, and multidisciplinary artist Kray Chen, 30.
Each recipient of the award is eligible for a grant of up to $20,000 that supports his future artistic pursuits and development.
Chen said that he was delighted to receive the award. "I am exploring using the grant to cover the production costs for an upcoming film which I am currently working on," he added.
Mrs Rosa Daniel, chief executive officer of the National Arts Council, which administers the awards, said: "The Cultural Medallion and Young Artist Award recipients represent the pinnacle of Singapore's artistic excellence and cultural creativity.
"As leaders in their fields who have contributed significantly to the rich tapestry of Singapore's arts landscape, they inspire budding artists and Singapore audiences alike. We are proud to celebrate their achievements, which will go a long way in profiling Singapore on the global arts stage."