Malaysia: The ‘crooked bridge’ returns

Najib in an interview with The Edge noted that while there may be some individual views about the project there are legal ramifications to consider as well as the financial constraints facing the government.

Ali Cordoba – Riau, Indonesia, World Futures

Reports in a local Malaysian newspaper suggests that the famous abandoned ‘crooked bridge’ between Singapore and Malaysia at the Johor Causeway will be back on the table. Instability will be at play and it could lead to another battle of the ‘titans’ within the United Malays National Organization (Umno).

The crooked bridge issue is one that is dear to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the returning leader of the United Malays National Organization (Umno) who is now more powerful than ever behind the scene. Will do or will not do the ‘crooked bridge’? It will all depend on how powerful Tun M as he is commonly called nowadays is within the Prime Minister’s circle.

Two factors will affect the next decision that the Malaysian government will make on the ‘crooked bridge’: Money and bilateral relations.

The recent meeting between Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and the Singapore Premier Lee Hsien Loong was warm and cordial, setting the pace for better relations between the two neighbouring states. Prime Minister Najib Razak has been a regular visitor to Singapore as Minister of Defence and is said to have very good relationship with the ruling class in Singapore, which is a good sign as this may quell any attempts of unwarranted trouble between Malaysian and Singapore.

Malaysia-Singapore ties have warmed since Malaysia's outspoken former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad handed power to Abdullah Ahmad Badawi late in 2003. It is getting warmer now; say observers who added that with Najib in power, the crooked bridge may still be a dead venture despite the strong return of Tun M within the corridors of power in Malaysia.

Former premier Tun Mahathir unveiled the plan for a bridge to replace half the 500-m causeway between the neighbours in 2003, after Singapore rejected a plan to jointly build a bridge to replace the entire causeway.