Speech by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, at the Launch of Words on Wheels (Yogyakarta) In Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, Governor of the Special Region of Yogyakarta,
Bapak Budi Wibowo, Head of the Board of Library and Archives of the Special Region of Yogyakarta,
Associate Professor Peter Pang, Governor, Singapore International Foundation,
Ms Jean Tan, Executive Director, Singapore International Foundation,
Singapore International Volunteers,
Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Selamat Pagi! I am happy to be here with you at the launch of the Singapore International Foundation’s (SIF) Words on Wheels project in Yogyakarta. I would like to take this opportunity to thank his Excellency Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X for joining us and gracing this momentous occasion.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Indonesia. Our partnership is a multi-faceted one, built upon a strong foundation of mutual trust, respect and understanding. In September this year, we commemorated 50 years of friendship with both Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Indonesia President Joko Widodo hosting a Leaders Retreat themed “Trusted Partners, RISING together”. RISING which stands for the Republic of Indonesia, RI, and SING for Singapore, aptly describes our shared aspirations for future cooperation – and that is, we gain more when we progress together. At the retreat, both our countries pledged to deepen our partnership across a wide range of sectors from defence, trade, to tourism and education.
People-to-people initiatives also add to this rich tapestry of relationships between our two countries. I am delighted that over the past 26 years, SIF has helped build mutual understanding and more importantly, long-lasting friendships between our peoples through programmes such as Words on Wheels. Words on Wheels, or WoW, is one of SIF’s signature projects. This interactive mobile library project was first launched in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2011 and has since travelled to Ho Chi Minh, Jaffna in Sri Lanka, Bandung in Indonesia, and today, Yogyakarta.
Education is an area of importance for both Singapore and Indonesia. It is therefore, heartening to see our people working closely with one another to promote learning and reading, especially among our young. SIF’s Words on Wheels is not just a portable source of knowledge for our young; it is also a vehicle of friendship – bringing Indonesians and Singaporeans together to share ideas and cultures through their mutual love for books.
Words on Wheels (Yogyakarta) builds on the success of the programme’s run in Bundung, which benefitted close to 13,000 Bandung students from 15 schools. The new three-year mobile library project will provide free access to books in both English and Bahasa Indonesia, and IT facilities to 5,000 students from 10 schools in Yogyakarta annually. The mobile library will be managed by enthusiastic Singapore International Volunteers who are eager to share their love for reading and learning. Specialist volunteers from the National Library Board Singapore will also be sharing their knowledge and expertise with BPAD DIY’s library staff to enhance its library management practices.
In conclusion, I would like to congratulate SIF and BPAD DIY on their effort in pooling their resources together and connecting like-minded volunteers, students, librarians and organisations to bring the joy of cross-cultural learning and reading into the classrooms and libraries of Yogyakarta. I hope this initiative will inspire students by nurturing a culture of reading and self–learning – a very essential skill for success in today’s dynamic world. More importantly, your collaboration will go a long way in fostering greater intercultural understanding between Singaporean and Indonesian communities, and strengthening a friendship underpinned by the spirit of “Gotong Royong”.
On 5 February 2020, Singapore President Halimah Yacob paid her first overseas visit, as Patron of the Singapore International Foundation, to our Occupational Therapy for Children with Special Needs project in Jakarta, Indonesia.