By P PREM KUMAR & ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS
A third bridge project connecting Johor and Singapore is the more logical solution to solve the massive traffic problem that is currently faced by commuters from both countries.
Deputy Defence Minister and Johor DAP chairman Liew Chin Tong (picture) said the idea of constructing of the earlier proposed half bridge, better known as the crooked bridge, should not be made a priority for the present government.
“For the third bridge project, we will be happy to support and maybe we can seriously consider it.
“The main focus should be to ensure speedy traffic flow of people and goods on both sides, which is why DAP is prepared to support the idea of a third bridge,” said Liew.
Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian had on Tuesday suggested that Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s idea to have the infamous “crooked bridge” linking Malaysia and Singapore could be revived, almost after 12 years the half-bridge was called off.
He said the proposal, which was mooted by Dr Mahathir in 2002 during the latter’s first term as prime minister, is being pushed again for consideration by the Johor state government.
Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said he was unsure whether the country’s economic and financial position would be able to bear such a project at the time being.
He said the government is now prioritising projects which involves taxpayers’ money, due to the discouraging financial position inherited by the current government.
“We have a huge amount of debt, so certainly we need to prioritise projects.
“I don’t know whether this is the right time to embark on this particular project when we have no money and our priority is in people-centric projects,” Azmin told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday.
In 2002, a year before retiring for the first time, Dr Mahathir announced that Malaysia would go ahead and build a crooked bridge — a six-lane S-shaped highway curving in such a way to allow ships to pass under it — if Singapore refused to demolish its half of the Causeway.
In January 2006, Malaysia unilaterally announced that it is going ahead to build the new bridge on the Malaysian side, then renamed to as scenic bridge.
The construction of the new scenic bridge on Malaysian side officially began in March 2006, only until the piling works of this bridge was completed a month later, before Dr Mahathir’s successor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi scrapped the project to avoid political and legal tension between the two countries.
Besides allowing free flow of water and allowing ships to sail across straight to Johor’s ports, the crooked bridge was seen as one way to reduce congestion at the Causeway, where people are caught in jams for hours.
Singapore was reported to be against it as it would bring no benefits to it.
Pekan MP and former PM Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak said the government must first examine whether the crooked bridge project will benefit the people.
“When I was the PM, I asked my Singaporean counterpart on the matter, and they refused because they said their existing causeway could still be used for another 30 years,” said Najib.
“I also asked them to deconstruct the causeway to make way for a new bridge fitting for this era, but did not get an agreement from the Singaporean government,” he said.
Najib also said it would make for an odd sight if Malaysia were to construct a new half-bridge and link it up with Singapore’s old causeway.