Ministry of Information,Communications and the Arts

Speech by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim at the Launch of the Causeway Book

Press Release   •   Nov 19, 2011 15:34 +08

Dato’ Seri Utama Dr Rais Yatim  
Distinguished guests
Ladies & Gentlemen    

Good evening.

I am very happy to be here tonight, at the launch of this wonderful publication which celebrates the Causeway, a well-loved landmark in both our countries.

This book is the brainchild of my esteemed colleague, Dr Rais, and I must thank him for this brilliant idea, without which we would not have this very readable publication that not only tells the story of the Causeway, but through this story, also tells of historical ties between Singapore and Malaysia.  

Connecting hearts across the Causeway  

Singapore and Malaysia have come a long way as neighbours and friends. We not only share good working relations, and very close historical links, but also friendship, and for some of us, family ties. To me, this book symbolises all of that – from our shared history as part of the Straits Settlements, to working together in planning, constructing and improving the Causeway, to how much it has served us since then. But we also share much that is not immediately obvious to us.  

When I read the book, I was particularly inspired by the heart-warming stories of how colonial engineers and local workers came together to build the Causeway back in the 1920s. In those days, construction of such scale was considered quite a feat of engineering. But beyond the physical, there was also the strength and unity of the human spirit that enabled our ancestors to triumph over major obstacles. I believe that this is a strength that citizens from both our countries also possess. With this, we too can tide over any challenges in our path.  

I hope that the Causeway will continue to serve us not only as a physical conduit but also a link to connect the two communities and serve as an enduring icon that reflects our history, strong bond and friendships, and the underlying strength of spirit that we share.  

Promoting a better understanding of our shared history  

There is no better way to enhance our close relations than through collaborations and cooperation. This is not the first time the National Archives of Malaysia and the National Archives of Singapore have worked together. A previous joint project, if you remember, was an exhibition and publication in 2004 titled Reminiscences of the Straits Settlements through Postcards.  

To publish a book that not only provides a comprehensive and accurate historical account on the Causeway, but is also an engaging read for the man on the street, is not easy. But, the close working relations that already exist between our two national archives made this a smooth and enjoyable partnership. A lot of effort, on both sides of the Causeway, went into researching, writing and producing this publication. The archives went to great lengths to select the best materials, to tell the story of the Causeway in an engaging manner that will surely resonate with the Singapore and Malaysia public. I must commend the National Archives of Malaysia and the National Archives of Singapore for their excellent work  

I hope there will be more of such collaborative projects in the arts and heritage arenas in the future.  These joint projects will not only strengthen relations at the official working levels, but also enrich our peoples’ lives through the sharing of knowledge-capital. They will also contribute to the continued growth of a vibrant arts and heritage scene in both countries.  


Finally, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to all the people who have made this book a reality.  These would include the academic and photographic communities, government agencies, historians, overseas archives, private organisations and individuals from both countries and abroad.  They have graciously provided valuable information and contributed visuals relating to the history, development and use of the Causeway.  I hope you will all enjoy reading this book.