Power players

Power players
One of the top 20 power players in Singapore, Anthony Chen (above)

A year ago, almost no one had heard of Anthony Chen or Kevin Kwan, the top two names in this year's Power List.

Yet here they are, a film-maker and a writer respectively, two artists who, in portraying Singapore and its people in their work, have won audiences around the world.

Chen's drama Ilo Ilo won the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival this year, as well as four Golden Horse Awards in Taipei, including the top prize of Best Feature.

Kwan's novel Crazy Rich Asians is an international bestseller. In Singapore alone, it has sold more than 10,000 copies.

By proving that Singapore has soft power, too, in the realms of film and writing, Chen, 29, and Kwan, 40, have made it to the top spots of the annual Power List this year.

Like them, the other names on the list cover the gamut of high and low brow, affordable and pricey, new and old.

So while you might have to drop a good bit of spare change at a restaurant run by the list's third-place holder, Loh Lik Peng, a man who is no stranger on the annual list, it is going to cost far less to enjoy the work of producer Melvin Ang, director Chai Yee Wei and music director Eric Ng (No.4) when their movie featuring contestants from The Voice Of China singing reality show opens here. Same with perennial power listers such as Jack Neo (No.11) and concert promoter Michael Roche (No.7).

The Power List began in 2005 with separate lists for the arts, entertainment and lifestyle, but starting from last year, it became a list of 20 that combined all three sectors.

A tighter ranking, we felt, would lead to a more dynamic and "competitive" list.

And that has proven true in 2013, with the arrival of Chen and Kwan, as well as other new names such as the directors of lifestyle agency Massive Collective, Phillip Poon and John Langan (both at No.16), and architect Chang Yong Ter (No.20).

That writer Kwan and film-maker Chen are "entering the charts at No.1 and 2", as they say on rock radio, is gladdening evidence that the Singapore arts and culture scene is alive and well. And as their international success shows, it is also eminently exportable.

johnlui@sph.com.sg

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