A three-month-long showcase of the arts from both sides of the Causeway was launched yesterday by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Kuala Lumpur, where he is set to attend the Asean Summit.
The music, theatre, film and art extravaganza, called Titian Budaya, which means "cultural bridge" in Malay, marks 50 years of friendship between Singapore and Malaysia.
Involving artists from both sides, the showcase is testament to the strong friendship between the two countries, said Mr Lee.
He also thanked his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak for his presence at the launch, held at the Publika shopping mall in Jalan Dutamas.
Quoting an old Malay proverb, PM Lee said ties between the two countries were "bagai aur dengan tebing" - like the bamboo and the river bank, each dependent on the other for their mutual survival.
COOPERATION IS KEY
There will always be ups and downs in our relationship. But what's more important is that we are prepared to work with each other.
PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG, on Singapore-Malaysia ties
"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," he said.
Datuk Seri Najib, in his speech, said the cultural showcase adds a new dimension to the bilateral ties, in the form of the finer things in life like an appreciation of the arts and culture.
"I am very confident Titian Budaya will be truly a bridge that will not be controversial," he quipped, taking a dig at the "crooked bridge" project championed by former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad. "But (it will be) a bridge that will bring the two countries closer and closer," Mr Najib added.
PM Lee said that besides sharing the same passion for shopping and food, Singaporeans and Malaysians also share deep familial and cultural links as well as popular icons, such as Malaysian pop star Yuna and Singaporean actor Aaron Aziz.
Artists from both sides also work together regularly, he noted.
The Damansara Performing Arts Centre and Singapore's T.H.E. Dance Company, for instance, will collaborate on dance works for Titian Budaya. This symbiotic relationship is a key focus of the arts showcase, which will be held at different venues in Kuala Lumpur, from today to Jan 17 next year.
One of the marquee events is Titian Budaya Night, a concert on Dec 8 that pays homage to the musical icons, traditions and influences that both countries share. The event will include performances by jazz maestro Jeremy Monteiro and former Singapore Idol winner Taufik Batisah, who will team up with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra to do works by famous composers of the two nations.
The concert will also celebrate the music of legendary actor-director P. Ramlee, with a medley of songs in a new arrangement.
The cultural showcase will close with the first Singapore Film Festival in Malaysia, from Jan 14 to Jan 17.
Singaporean Regina De Rozario, 41, part of interdisciplinary art duo Perception3, told The Straits Times: "We have the same shared concerns about national identities... as well as the cultural artefacts that we are endeavouring to document."
Singaporeans and Malaysians continue to seek out and engage with one another, and the arts is a good example of this, said PM Lee.
"Events like these help to enhance those opportunities to engage, to have an exchange of ideas... and to remind ourselves of what we share together: our friendship, our mutual regard, and our cooperation, as we celebrate 50 years of relations between our two countries."