Stories > Bridge of Friendship

2016 • Issue 1

Bridge of Friendship


CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Titian Budayaʼs multidisciplinary line-up included a performance by Malaysian musician Liyana Fizi, a screening of Jack Neoʼs film I Not Stupid, a shadow puppet show by Kelantan wayang kulit troupe Kumpulan Sri Campuran, Singaporean photographer Fong Qi Weiʼs animated diptych Interweave and music from the Singapore Chinese Orchestra.

Singapore and Malaysia’s creative communities marked 50 years of cross-strait ties with collaborations and celebrations held over three months in Kuala Lumpur.



multi-disciplinary celebration of 50 years of friendship between Singapore and Malaysia took place from November last year to January this year at various venues in Kuala Lumpur (KL). Known as Titian Budaya, which means “cultural bridge” in Malay, it was presented by Singapore’s Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and supported by Malaysia’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture. Conceptualised and produced by private impresario CultureLink Singapore, it showcased the talent and works of 400 participants from the two countries’ creative communities and highlighted the intimate ties that bind them.

To convey the notion of shared experiences, Titian Budaya took on the collective theme of “Next Door”, with festivities kicking off at the Publika mall in KL. Activities included a visual arts exhibition, Art Next Door, of specially selected and commissioned works by Singaporean and Malaysian artists of the post-1965 generation, live music performances by popular singers like Singapore’s Charlie Lim and Malaysia’s Liyana Fizi, an outdoor screening of Jack Neo’s iconic film I Not Stupid, and an arts and crafts bazaar.

At Art Next Door, Singaporean conceptual fine art photographer Fong Qi Wei presented his animated diptych, Interweave, featuring Singapore’s performing arts centre Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay and Malaysia’s Petronas Twin Towers as a metaphor for the two close neighbours. He said: “Singapore and Malaysia have close relationships with each other... from the micro level... to the macro level... My work shows the close relationship between two partners, who are similar in many ways but also different in others.”

In December, the anchor programme and gala concert, Titian Budaya Night, blended the musical flavours of both countries. Gracing the stage were the Singapore Chinese Orchestra and a wayang kulit (shadow puppet) troupe from Kelantan called Kumpulan Sri Campuran, among others.


The same month, Singapore’s T.H.E Dance Company presented a triple bill at the D’Motion International Dance Festival. Held in conjunction with Titian Budaya, it featured works by Spanish dancer-choreographer Iratxe Ansa and Indonesian choreographer Jecko Siompo.

On the experience, Malaysian-born, Singapore-based Kuik Swee Boon, who is founder and artistic director of T.H.E Dance Company, said: “It is increasingly clear to me that we are constantly navigating between past and present, traditional and contemporary. All these remain topical conversations in the multicultural and multiracial societies of Malaysia and Singapore.”

“Singaporeans and Malaysians have so much in common due to our historical and social ties. We are like two long-distance cousins. We may have moved on with our lives, but our respective decisions still affect each other emotionally.”

Singaporean director Sanif Olek

Titian Budaya also promoted community engagement through discussions such as Bicara Titian Budaya, a forum engaging the artistic and cultural communities of the two countries, as well as a collaborative arts workshop, Unseen: Shift Lab KL. Singaporean visual artist Alecia Neo, Malaysian arts groups Toccata Studio and theatrethreesixty, as well as Dialogue in the Dark Malaysia (Didmy), an advocacy and empowerment organisation for the visually impaired in Malaysia, partnered the Singapore International Foundation for this project. The artists led role-playing and skills-based workshops for visually impaired youth from Didmy, who explored their self-identity and ambitions as well as shared insights into their own “unseen” worlds.

Titian Budaya concluded in January with the inaugural Singapore Film Festival in Kuala Lumpur, which opened with the Malaysian premiere of the SG50 omnibus film, 7 Letters. Shot by seven notable Singapore directors, the film resonated greatly with Malaysian audiences with its universal theme of home. The festival’s line-up also included Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo, Eric Khoo’s 12 Storeys and Sanif Olek’s Sayang Disayang, Singapore’s entry to the 2015 Academy Awards.

“This has certainly been a good platform for filmmakers like me to present my work to audiences who may not have access to Singapore-made Malay-language films,” said Sanif, adding that he also discussed possible future collaborations with Malaysia-based production houses.

“Singaporeans and Malaysians have so much in common due to our historical and social ties. We are like two long-distance cousins. We may have moved on with our lives, but our respective decisions still affect each other emotionally.”


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