POPULAR culture received a nod at this year's Cultural Medallion and Young Artist awards when a xinyao pioneer and a comics illustrator received the nation's highest accolades for their achievements in the arts.

Dr Liang Wern Fook, 46, considered the founding father of xinyao, a type of Singapore Chinese folk-pop music which became popular in the 1980s, received the Cultural Medallion, which recognises individuals who have attained excellence in their respective artistic fields.

The other two Cultural Medallion recipients were veteran Malay-language novelist and poet Suratman Markasan, 79, and artist Amanda lucky, 59.
In this year's crop of Young Artist Award winners was Mr Sonny Liew, 35, who is known for his comics series Malinky Robot, about street urchins in a futuristic city. He is the first comics illustrator to receive the award for those under 35 years old.

Dr Liang, singer-songwriter and adjunct assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University's Chinese studies department, said at the presentation ceremony at the Istana last night: 'This is not just a recognition of my work, but a recognition of xinyao, which is more than popular music, but a people's music.

'Receiving this award is not the grand finale, but the beginning of a new phase of my musical career.'

3 get Cultural Medallions