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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dr M says up to Johor leaders to revive crooked bridge - MI

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 12 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad expressed confidence today that crooked bridge project linking Johor to Singapore may be revived, but only with support of the state leaders.

The former prime minister admitted however that it would be impossible to push for the project if Johor leaders do not see the need for the Causeway to be replaced with a bridge.

“I am optimist if they are pushing for it, but if they don’t then it is not possible,” said Dr Mahathir when asked about his meeting with Johor leaders recently on the crooked bridge project.

The Malaysian Insider had reported that Dr Mahathir had met with Johor Umno leaders in an attempt to revive the idea of a crooked bridge.

However it is understood that the prime minister for 22 years was not getting encouraging response from the local leaders.

Several state party leaders also gave the meeting a skip, including Johor Baru MP Datuk Seri Shahrir Abdul Samad and Pulai MP Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed.

Dr Mahathir’s “crooked bridge” project, that aims to tear down the Malaysian half of the Causeway and replace it with a curving bridge high enough for shipping traffic to pass under, was first mooted when he was prime minister in the 1990s but subsequently ditched by his successor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Dr Mahathir, who still wields a huge influence on Umno despite stepping down in 2003, made his ire towards Abdullah very public and has continued to harangue Datuk Seri Najib Razak over the construction of the bridge.

But Najib, who is keen to repair bilateral ties with the island republic, has been reluctant to discuss the proposal which was received frostily by Singapore’s government when first mooted.

The prime minister has instead preferred to discuss other potential solutions such as a third bridge with Malaysia’s southern neighbour.

He has also successfully resolved the long-standing issue of the Malayan Railway land in Singapore last year.

The Causeway was completed in 1923 after four years of construction and cost US$17 million (in 1924 terms). It was the first land link between Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. The second, called the Malaysia-Singapore Second Link, was completed in 1998.

Sultan Ibrahim of Johor had also called for a new bridge to replace the Causeway last November at an investiture ceremony to mark his 52nd birthday.

He had said the bridge would be convenient for people travelling to Singapore and back, and encourage tourists from the neighbouring country.

Replacing the Causeway would enable water in the straits to flow unhindered and at the same time improve the environment, the state Ruler added.
(Sumber Malaysian Insider)

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