Veteran singer Nona Asiah and established calligrapher and poet Koh Mun Hong received the Cultural Medallion yesterday .
They were presented with Singapore's highest honour in the arts by President Tony Tan Keng Yam at a ceremony held at the Istana. The accolade recognises individuals for their artistic excellence, as well as their contribution and commitment to Singapore's arts and cultural landscape.
Mr Koh, 64, is a well-known Chinese calligrapher, ink painter and poet who has taught and groomed many younger calligraphers in Singapore. He is among the few Singaporean artists still working in the tradition of Chinese scholar-painters and, unlike most others, he is self-taught.
In his thank-you speech, he acknowledged the support of friends and fellow artists who encouraged him in his artistic journey.
"Painting, calligraphy and poetry have always been my passion," he said. "I have devoted my whole life to the pursuit of this passion and this award is certainly an affirmation for me.
Painting, calligraphy and poetry have always been my passion. I have devoted my whole life to the pursuit of this passion and this award is certainly an affirmation for me. It will definitely spur me on to greater heights.
CALLIGRAPHER, INK PAINTER AND POET KOH MUN HONG, on receiving the Cultural Medallion.
"It will definitely spur me on to greater heights."
Madam Asiah, 86, whose given name is Asiah Aman, was an iconic singer in the 1950s and 1960s who was heard across Malaya and Singapore as a popular radio host and a voice-over singer for many Malay films. After she retired from the limelight in the 1970s, she continued to be a vocal coach.
"I feel very honoured and I would like to share this award with all who have made this possible," she said.
At the ceremony, five artists aged 35 and below were presented with the Young Artist Award by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu. The award recognises and encourages the development of young artistic talents.
The recipients of the award are visual artist Alecia Neo, 30; installation and performance artist Ezzam Rahman, 35; actor, playwright and director Liu Xiaoyi, 34; and Marc Nair, 35, and Pooja Nansi, 35, who are both writers and poets.