Cultural Medallion 2021 recipients announced
One of Singapore’s most beloved singers and a leading literary light have received the nation’s highest cultural honour. The Cultural Medallion was bestowed on Rahimah Rahim and Chia Joo Ming by President Halimah Yacob at the Istana on 24 Nov, inducting them into Singapore’s cultural hall of fame.
The Cultural Medallion was instituted in 1979 by late President Ong Teng Cheong, when he was Minister of Culture. He envisioned a special award to recognise individuals whose artistic excellence and commitment have enriched and distinguished the artistic and cultural landscape of Singapore. Every year since then, the National Arts Council has chosen the brightest and the best in the visual and literary arts, music, theatre and dance.
Rahimah Rahim made her screen debut at six years old and went on to make several movies produced by Cathay-Keris. In 1966, she starred in the first ever Malay sitcom broadcast in Singapore, Pak Awang Temberang. Multi-talented Rahimah was only 17 when she released her first record – but she was already a seasoned performer, as she had been singing in TV and on stage from the late 1950s with her father, popular crooner Rahim Hamid.
Rahimah released a score of albums and singles, tackling everything from Malay pop to jazz. Along the way she has collaborated with Gloria Estefan’s Miami Sound Machine and Cantopop king, Alan Tam; represented Singapore in numerous international singing competitions; and been a regular performer at National Day Parades.
This year’s other Cultural Medallion recipient, Chia Joo Ming, has established himself as the leading Chinese language novelist in Singapore, garnering multiple Golden Lion Awards. His success was previously rewarded with a Young Artist Award but, as it turned out, his creative juices were just beginning to flow. One of his most critically acclaimed novels, m40, was published when he turned 50, and six years later came Exile or Pursuit, which spoke so directly to the Singaporean experience it is now part of the O-Level Chinese literature syllabus.
Find out more about the Cultural Medallion here.