20 April, 2009

" CROOKED" BRIDGE over troubled water ?

1. The Star reported that Chinese businessmen in Johor Baru want the Crooked Bridge to be built.

2. Newspapers of April 15 reports on an UMNO Youth leader in Johor Baru requesting that the bridge be built for various reasons.

3. When the previous Prime Minister stated that the people of Johore did not want the crooked bridge or any bridge, no one said anything, much less protest.

4. Is it because no one in Johore 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.

5. There was for a very short while complaints regarding the Custom, Immigration and Quarantine complex. No one explained that the inconvenience was due to the complex being designed to complement the proposed bridge but when the bridge was cancelled a temporary road was built to join the complex with the causeway. This caused a misfit as the two could not be properly linked together. Hence the inconvenience. In addition the traffic problems near the causeway remained unsolved.

6. 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.

- from Chedet

The mainstream media has been making a case to revive the crooked bridge across the Johor Strait, a project cancelled by Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in his early days as prime minister that irked his predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Abdullah had cancelled the project in 2006, citing legalities that have to be pursued with Singapore and a high deficit in government spending.

Despite the cancellation, the government had to compensate several contractors linked to the project.

“The people of Johor are placing high hopes on the prime minister to review the decision to cancel the crooked bridge project across the Johor Straits.

“The effects from the construction of the crooked bridge will be most positive to the Johor economy. We urge the government to reconsider (the cancellation) as soon as possible,” said Khalid, Umno Youth information chief and is also the Johor Baharu Umno Youth chief.

He said although the country was facing the global economic slowdown, the construction of the crooked bridge would stimulate the local economy and bring it out of the recession.

“It (the construction of the bridge) is a long-term investment and no one can deny the positive effects arising from the construction of the bridge to the Johor economy and in creating various economic opportunities,” he said.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the former prime minister, questioned if Malaysia needs Singapore’s permission to build a replacement in its own territory.

Dr M, 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.

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