RM1.1 billion “crooked” half-bridge to replace Johore causeway a major ASEAN setback and violation of the mutual vows by Mahathir and Goh Chok Tong to improve bilateral ties and step up economic co-operation at the joint opening of the grossly-underutilised Malaysia-Singapore Second Link five years ago
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): The RM1.1 billion “crooked” half-bridge to replace half of the Johore causeway is a major ASEAN setback and violation of the mutual vows by the Prime Ministers of Malaysia and Singapore to improve bilateral ties and to step up economic co-operation at the joint opening of the grossly-underutilised RM2 billion Malaysia-Singapore Second Link five years ago.
Both Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Goh Chok Tong were very free with “superlatives” at the joint opening of the Second Link on April 18, 1998.
Goh said: “The Second Link is not just another great engineering feat. It is a symbol of a new phase in Malaysia-Singapore relations. The construction itself is testimony to the achievements that we can attain by putting our hearts and minds together”
Mahathir said Singapore was Malaysia’s leading ASEAN trading partner and the new link would go a long way toward enhancing that partnership.
He said: “I am confident it will play a pivotal role in facilitating economic and infrastructure development in Singapore and Malaysia. Indeed, I can say it will literally act as the bridge to carry out two countries into the 21st century.”
Mahahtir hailed the Second Link as “a triumph of ASEAN” as it was a testimony of successful regional co-operation.
All these vows and euphoria of great bilateral relationship and “a triumph of ASEAN’ would be reduced to ashes should Malaysia proceed to unilaterally build the RM1.1 billion “crooked” half-bridge to replace half of the Johore Causeway – becoming a symbol of the failure of ASEAN after three decades of the regional association!.
The half-bridge to be built only on the Malaysian side or half of the 900-metre Causeway to allow free passage of vessels under 25 metres (80 feet) in height to pass through the Tebrau Strait and yet join up with the existing low-level Singapore part of the causeway will be another “engineering feat”, as it will have to be a “crooked” elevated half-bridge which is curved and extended more than thrice the actual distance to 1.45-kilometre so that heavy vehicles such as lorries can cope with a maximum incline of 4.2 degrees.
But it will be an irrational and even “crazy” engineering feat which highlights the failure of humanity.
As there is no immediate urgency to start work on the “crooked” half-bridge with the RM2 billion Johore-Singapore Second Link still grossly under-utilised although operational more than five years ago, DAP calls on Mahathir and Goh Chok Tong to remember their mutual vows and rosy vision for Malaysia-Singapore relations and ASEAN in the new century. Malaysia-Singapore differences over the “crooked” half bridge and all other outstanding issues should be brought back to the negotiations table between the two countries as the “crooked” half-bridge does not make sense whether for Malaysia, Malaysia-Singapore relations or the future of ASEAN.
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 into question by the announcement of the “crooked” half bridge to replace half of the Johore Causeway.
Both countries should submit reports to the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting in Phnom Penh next month as to why they 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 two days ago 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