DAP calls for talks between Malaysia and Singapore on the joint construction of a new bridge to replace the Johore-Singapore causeway as a RM1.1 billion crooked half-bridge by Malaysia will be a lasting and shameful symbol of “crooked” Malaysia-Singapore relations as well as a “crooked” ASEAN
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Saturday): After one week, most Malaysians still cannot get over the feeling that the RM1.1 billion “crooked” half-bridge to replace half of the Johore Causeway announced by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is a ridiculous, irrational and even crazy idea, not in engineering terms, but in its very concept which offends common sense and cannot benefit the ordinary people, Malaysia-Singapore relations or ASEAN.
The elevated “crooked” half-bridge will be built only on the Malaysian side or half of the 900-metre Causeway to allow free passage of watercraft and water currents of the Johore Straits, but because of the very short distance of 450 metres from the Johore/Singapore boundary, the “crooked” half-bridge has to be curved and extended more than thrice the distance to 1.4-kilometre so that heavy vehicles such as lorries can cope with a maximum incline of 4.2 degrees.
Mahathir announced last week that Malaysia will not involve Singapore in the construction of the RM1.1 billion “crooked” half-bridge to replace Malaysia’s half of the causeway as Singapore’s involvement would only serve to delay the project.
This is not good enough an excuse to proceed with the “crooked” half-bridge, which will make Malaysia, Singapore and ASEAN the laughing-stocks in the world as it will be a standing symbol of their chronic inability to co-operate whether at the bilateral and regional levels – especially when there is no immediate urgency to start work on the project, as the RM2 billion Johore-Singapore Second Link completed more than five years ago is still grossly under-utilised.
I find most shocking the statement by the new Transport Minister, Datuk Chan Kong Choy the next day that the design and construction of the “crooked” half-bridge would not be altered in any manner even if Singapore should agree to jointly develop the Gerbang Selatan Bersepadu (GSB) project, and that the possibility of “straightening” the new GSB bridge was nil! (Sin Chew 3.8.03)
DAP calls on Mahathir to clarify whether Kong Choy’s haughty and arrogant statement correctly represented the Malaysian Government stand – that even if Singapore agrees to jointly develop the Gerbang Selatan Bersepadu project and replace the present causeway with a straight bridge, it is still “no go” as the “crooked” half-bridge must still be built.
If so, this could only mean that there will have to be another “crooked” half bridge at the Singapore end to complete a “double crooked” bridge to replace the present causeway - undoubtedly making it the only one of its kind in the world to join a 900-metre distance with a 2.8-kilometre “double-crooked” bridge!
This does not make sense to Malaysians or for Malaysia-Singapore or ASEAN relations.
ASEAN Finance Ministers have just met in Manila declaring their commitment to long-term economic integration and to forge closer links with big neighbours, China, Japan and South Korea undeterred by the bomb blasts in Jakarta – but the whole seriousness of such ASEAN declarations must be called in question by the announcement of the “crooked” half bridge to replace half of the Johore Causeway.
DAP calls for the suspension of all work on the “crooked” half-bridge and for talks between Malaysia and Singapore on the joint construction of a new bridge to replace the Johore-Singapore causeway as a RM1.1 billion crooked half-bridge by Malaysia will be a lasting and shameful symbol of “crooked” Malaysia-Singapore relations as well as a “crooked” ASEAN.
Both countries should submit reports to the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting in Phnom Penh next month as to why both countries could not co-operate to build a bridge to replace the 80-year-old causeway to reflect the spirit of ASEAN, which marked its 36th anniversary only yesterday. Alternatively, ASEAN should set up a mediation committee to secure Malaysia-Singapore agreement on joint construction of a bridge to replace the 80-year-old causeway to protect the good name of ASEAN and spare it from international mockery of “crooked” half-bridges to link ASEAN member nations.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman