PM Lee Hsien Loong at launch of Titian Budaya

| 20 November 2015

Speech by PM Lee Hsien Loong at launch of Titian Budaya on 20 November 2015.


Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia
Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen
Very happy to be here with Prime Minister Najiib to launch Titian Budaya. It is the largest ever arts event between Singapore and Malaysia. I would especially like to thank our special guests, Dato’ Sri Najib and Datin Seri Rosmah, for being here with us today. We know how busy you are hosting the ASEAN meetings which are about to take place and yet you still found time to be here with us today. It is testament to the strong friendship between our two countries.

PM Najib is a keen supporter of the arts. I know he appreciates its value in fostering greater understanding between our peoples. Earlier this year, PM Najib and Datin Seri Rosmah launched DiverseCity 2015 Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival, a celebration of the cultural heritage of Malaysia and the Southeast Asia. I am very honoured that he is here as our special guest today.

You all know the Malay proverb, bagai aur dengan tebing – like the bamboo and the river bank, each relying on the other for their mutual survival. As close neighbours, Singapore and Malaysia are like that. Ours is a very close relationship. There will be ups and downs but most important of all is that we are willing to work with each other, for each other and to maintain our deep and broad bilateral relationship. We are each other’s second largest trading partner and we have many bilateral cooperation projects including some in the pipeline, like the Singapore to Kuala Lumpur (KL) High Speed Rail. We are also stepping up our cultural cooperation and people-to-people ties. Last year PM Najib and I opened the AgroBazaar in Singapore and we had durians on the rooftop! Now Singaporeans can easily enjoy delicious Malaysian produce and delicacies at their doorstep. Malaysia’s National Visual Arts Gallery is also cooperating with Singapore. We are opening the National Gallery Singapore on Monday and Malaysia’s National Visual Arts Gallery has kindly agreed to loan us some of their artwork, which will also feature other works by Malaysian artists. Similarly, our Singaporean artists have had the privilege to perform all around Malaysia, including the Georgetown and Johor Bahru Arts Festivals.

Today I am very happy to be launching Titian Budaya, which will celebrate the vibrant arts and culture scene in Malaysia and Singapore. Our Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth has worked very closely with the Malaysian Ministry of Tourism and Culture to make this possible. This show will last for four months and will feature 400 artists and participants from both countries, holding many events and exhibitions including art, film, theatre and music.

The theme of Titian Budaya, in fact, the meaning of Titian Budaya is bridging cultures.  This might suggest that there is a wide gulf to be bridged between Singapore and Malaysia cultures, but this is not so. In fact, we are close together. We share deep historical, familial and cultural links. We share the same passion for shopping, passion for music and passion for food. We may argue over whose Nasi Lemak is better but both Nasi Lemak are quite good. We have shared cultural icons for decades.

So I am very happy that the younger generation of artistes continue to look across the border and are familiar with both sides of the causeway. Malaysian pop artist Yuna has performed in Singapore a number of times, including in October recently. Malaysian visual artist Sherman Ong has exhibited museums and festivals in Singapore and is one of the artists featured in Titian Budaya’s Next Door Exhibition; while Malaysian actress Jo Kukathas is a regular presence in Singapore. In the other direction, Singaporean Aaron Aziz, actor and producer, has made a name for himself in Malaysia while 22-year-old Munirah Jaafar, who goes by the pen name of Nirosette, has two novels sold out in Malaysia. Our pop idol Taufik Batisah has a following in Malaysia too and he even agreed to perform during Titian Budaya Night in KL, early next month on 8 December. Our artists regularly work together. The Malaysian Damansara Performing Arts Centre and Singapore’s T.H.E Dance Company will collaborate to present dance works under Titian Budaya.  

So there are many touch points and points of engagement between our peoples. Events like this helps to enhance those opportunities and to engage and have an exchange of ideas or creative juices. And to remind ourselves of what we share together – our friendship, our mutual regard for cooperation – as we celebrate fifty years of relations between our two countries. I hope Titian Budaya will present a wide range of items. Choose what you like to your taste and enjoy, and celebrate the vibrant arts scene in our two countries. Thank you very much.

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