Ghani Othman should declare stand on suspension of construction of RM1.1 billion “crooked half-bridge” for a win-win solution to Malaysia and Singapore and to avoid the “crooked half-bridge” to stand as a permanent symbol of failure of ASEAN spirit between two neighbouring countries and “crooked” governance in Malaysia
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Johore Mentri Besar, Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman should declare his stand on the suspension of construction of the RM1.1 billion “crooked half-bridge” for a win-win solution to Malaysia and Singapore and to avoid the crooked half-bridge to stand as a permanent symbol of the failure of the ASEAN spirit between two neighbouring countries and “crooked” governance in Malaysia.
The support of the Johore Bahru Barisan Nasional Youth for the straightening of the RM1.1 billion “crooked half bridge” after the open support by Johore Bahru UMNO leaders, Deputy Works Minister Datuk Khalid Nordin and former Cabinet Minister Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad is proof of the widespread, deep-seated but suppressed dissatisfactions in the country with many mega projects of the government.
This was why when the new Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he wanted Barisan Nasional leaders and later the people to tell him the truth, it was like a breath of fresh air, raising such high hopes and expectations among the people that there would be change in the system of governance as the suppression of legitimate views and differences, including at all levels of leadership in the Barisan Nasional, had gone on for too long in the country.
However, the call by the new Prime Minister to the people to tell him the truth has still to be followed up with reforms in institutions, systems, practices and even laws which are necessary to encourage and empower the people to speak freely and truthfully, such as giving clear and unmistakable message that the government is serious about press freedom and stands for free and responsible press.
If the people had been encouraged and empoweed to speak the truth, a sea of voices would have been heard not only from inside the Barisan Nasional but also from the civil society and the mass media about legitimate disagreements and objections to the building of the RM1.1 billion “crooked half-bridge” and why they do not want a permanent symbol of shame to Malaysia-Singapore relations, and even worse, an international symbol of “crooked” governance in Malaysia.
Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Security and Defence Tony Tan said yesterday that the Singapore Government is prepared for talks if Malaysia wants to discuss the bridge to replace the 80-year causeway, and this is a good start to find a win-win solution to the problem in the best interests of Malaysia and Singapore.
Ghani should declare his stand on the issue as he had been the strongest proponent of the “crooked half-bridge” in Johore, to state whether the Johore State Government under his leadership is prepared to give Abdullah full support to end the folly and ignominy of building a “crooked half-bridge” and to have it straightened out with the co-operation of the two neighbouring governments.
As Johore Mentri Besar, Ghani should make his stand known so that the Cabinet meeting tomorrow could take a decision to pave the way to find a win-win formula for both countries to replace the “crooked half-bridge” project.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman