He is setting up the award “out of his own pocket” to inspire artists of various kinds from around the world.
Currently, Tan is negotiating with lawyers about starting a foundation for the award. Later he will organise a committee of judges who will select the winners from around the globe.
“The winner of the Tan Swie Hian Award will also receive a gold medal and a poem, in a prize-giving ceremony at the courtyard of the artist's Geylang home, which Tan told Zaobao 'is the birthplace of Singapore's modern literary movement',” reports The Strait Times
Tan “often contemplates existential issues” and wishes to fulfill this feat before his death.
The Strait Times quotes Tan: "To be able to donate for the public good - this may not be achieved through personal wealth alone. Only through Buddhist living and meditation can you hope to do so."
Tan's works include “large-scale works and counts poetry, sculpting, calligraphy and painting among the various art forms.” He was awarded Cultural Medallion in 1987 among other prestigious awards for his multidisciplinary artworks.