Dr M: Scenic bridge will enhance Iskandar project

Written by Chan Kok Leong, THE EDGE

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad strongly believes that completing the scenic bridge will only enhance the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) project.

The elder statesman said that the bridge will improve traffic flow between Singapore and Malaysia and hence benefit IDR.

When asked if cutbacks in other areas were necessary to finish the bridge, Mahathir said: "No, we don’t need to cut back on anything.

"If you build the bridge, the Iskandar project will take off. If you don’t the traffic jams will persist.

"The bridge was designed to overcome traffic jams. Now, the traffic jams are getting worse and the new Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex in Bukit Chagar cannot be utilised properly," said the 83-year-old statesman.

The scenic bridge project was the brainchild of Mahathir before he left office in 2003.

However, the project also known as "crooked bridge" encountered issues in his predecessor’s time.

Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, citing the reason that Singapore had not agreed with the project, jettisoned the idea midway after it had began, incurring the wrath of Mahathir.

An unnamed source told the Singapore Straits Times on Tuesday that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had told Johor Umno at a closed-door meeting that any review of the scrapped plan would be decided only after discussions with Singapore.

Besides improving bilateral traffic, Mahathir had also wanted to boost local ports by allowing ships to pass under the bridge instead of being forced to re-route around Singapore.

The bridge would have to be curved in shape to allow for the road to gain the necessary height in such a short distance.

Earlier, Mahathir gave the opening speech at the MSC Malaysia Leadership Talk Series 2009 at a hotel in Cyberjaya and then conducted a question-and-answer session with the invited guests.

In his speech, Mahathir urged the country to take stock of its attributes and make use of them in this time of crisis.

He suggested to the guests who were mainly from the information technology sector that two areas which could be developed is the field of animation and robotics.

The pioneer of Malaysia’s multimedia super corridor also urged IT companies to focus on quality and step up their research efforts.