Dr M pushes ‘the crooked bridge’

“Does the Government need to ask Singapore for permission to build the now desirable crooked bridge? Is Malaysia free to do things in its own territory? Are we really independent? I wonder.”

The Malaysian Insider

Finally calling it “the crooked bridge”, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad questioned if Malaysia needs Singapore’s permission to build a replacement in its own territory.

The former prime minister, who had proposed the project which was cancelled by his successor, noted that more people were supporting the project now.

“Does the Government need to ask Singapore for permission to build the now desirable crooked bridge?” Dr Mahathir wrote in his www.chedet.cc weblog today.

“Is Malaysia free to do things in its own territory? Are we really independent? I wonder,” the caustic politician asked about the project which was officially called the ‘Scenic Bridge’.

He had proposed to replace the near century-old Causeway as it kept the Johor Strait waters stagnant and would also allow development of ports in the southern state.

Without referring to Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi by name, he pointed out no one had protested the previous prime minister’s claim that Johor people did not want “the crooked bridge or any bridge”.

“Is it because no one in Johor at that time really wanted the bridge, or is it that no one dared to differ from the open-minded and liberal ex-PM or the Press did not dare to report the real opinions of the people,” Dr Mahathir asked sarcastically.

He said there were only a  few complaints about the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine complex due to the connecting temporary road to the Causeway which did not alleviate the city’s traffic congestion.

Malaysian mainstream media have reported over the last week that businessmen and some political leaders now support the crooked bridge to replace the Causeway, one of two road links to Singapore.

The island republic was in favour of the bridge if Malaysia committed to opening its airspace for military flights and would sell sand for the country’s expansion.

Abdullah’s decision to scrap the project and other projects pushed Dr Mahathir to oppose him and campaign for his ouster.

Abdullah retired on more than two weeks ago a year after he lead the ruling Barisan Nasional to its worst electoral outing in history.

Dr Mahathir rejoined Umno after Abdullah left and has continued to voice his opinions on Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s administration.

Deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is seen as close to Dr Mahathir, has said there are no proposals to revive the crooked bridge project.

But its learnt that some companies are preparing to restart the project if it is approved.

The Najib administration is now focusing on reviving the softening economy in the current financial storm and believes funds could be used elsewhere rather than expanding land links to Singapore.

However, government sources say it is amenable to the project if Singapore is agreeable, hence Dr Mahathir’s question about the country’s independence to decide projects in its territory.

In the last recession caused by the Asian Financial Crisis of 97/98, the Mahathir administration spent its way out by pushing mega projects such as Putrajaya, Cyberjaya, KLIA, ports and transport links.