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Young writers celebrate Singapore's upcoming 50th birthday with short stories

Published on Jul 17, 2014 12:05 PM

SINGAPORE - Methodist Girls' School student Hannah Kwok catches the National Day Parade on television yearly with her family.

"We never miss it, especially the fireworks," said the 13-year-old.

For Singapore's 50th birthday next year, Hannah is also paying tribute to the nation's achievements by joining a writing competition called 50 Words for 50 Years.

The contest is organised by English-language enrichment centre Creative Horizons. Participants simply had to write a 50-word story in an hour, based on an assigned title.

They stand to win up to cash prizes worth up to $7,500 in total. The Straits Times Digital is the official media partner. The titles are linked to Singapore's values and progress in the last five decades, so as to raise awareness of the Singaporean identity and strengthen the people's sense of belonging.

"I'm proud of what Singapore has overcome and achieved over the past 50 years," said Hannah. She wrote a story about a tissue seller, as she felt inspired by the mental fortitude of tissue sellers after seeing them often at hawker centres.

As for Debra Cheah, who is pursuing a diploma in engineering systems at Singapore Polytechnic, joined the competition to test her creativity.

The 17-year-old submitted two stories: one about a student taking inspiration from Singapore's achievements and the other about an offender being convicted in the Singapore courts.

Another contestant, Muhammad Rayyan Samsul Kamar, is participating in the contest for the second time, after his story was shortlisted in a similar contest organised by Creative Horizons last year.

"If I am given a chance to write, I will challenge myself to produce a good piece of work," said the 13-year-old from Bukit View Secondary School.

Rayyan sent in four 50-word stories, including a tale about a Singaporean who is proud of Singapore being a garden city, and of being grateful for what one has.

And now you can go online to vote for your favourite story from July 14 to July 20 in each of six categories, which are based on the age of the participants.

The top 10 entries in each category will be shortlisted for a final round of judging by a panel. The judges are poet and Singapore Management University literature associate professor Kirpal Singh, playwright Stella Kon, and former editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings, Peter Lim.

The champion from each category will receive $500. The runner-up from each category will receive $250. Up to eight merit award winners in each category get $50 each. All winners will also receive vouchers for two to three lessons on creative writing at Creative Horizons.

Winners will be announced at a prize presentation ceremony in August. In addition to the cash prizes, their stories will be also published in a booklet that will be distributed to all schools and public libraries.

To read and vote for the stories, go to