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Petaling Jaya, Saturday): Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar’s comments today that dissenting views from former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will make no difference in the decision not to proceed with the crooked scenic bridge but would instead raise sentiments that could harm unity marks the beginning of a new crisis in UMNO. The crooked scenic bridge project across the Johor Strait may have collapsed but more damaging is the collapse of the relationship between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that marks their public split and a new leadership crisis in UMNO.
Syed Hamid called Mahathir very litigious and implied that Mahathir was a liar for Mahathir saying that the Government’s priority and intention is to sell sand to Singapore and that selling sand to Singapore was done when Mahathir was Prime Minister in the 80s and 90s. For the first time he felt that Mahathir should not cause a situation that could lead to a political crisis when our country is stable and secure.
For a senior Minister to call his former boss “very litigious and a threat to national unity” and even as “liar” is not only disrespectful but indicates the deep frustrations and incandescent anger that Abdullah and his men have towards Mahathir. Equally interesting is the loud silence by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and those aligned to him at Mahathir’s fierce attacks. Such silence is dangerous as it shows that the Cabinet is not acting with one heart or single mind on the cancellation of the scenic bridge project. Probably the only beneficiary out of this power play within UMNO is Singapore.
Abdullah’s image, administration and effective governance would suffer if Abdullah can not handle this growing political crisis within UMNO as admitted by Syed Hamid today. Abdullah should get all Ministers to answer in unison to the serious allegations made by Mahathir to dispel the notion that there is a serious split within UMNO over the unilateral scrapping of the scenic bridge project.
The public has a right to demand answers to Mahathir’s allegations and to question whether Malaysia’s interest were well-served by the abrupt cancellation of the crooked scenic bridge project. Public suspicions have been raised that certain parties will benefit financially from the cancellation of the crooked scenic bridge project, when RM 100 million compensation is to be paid to the contractor Gerbang Perdana Sdn Bhd for not building the bridge, and another RM 250 million to build a road that does not really serve to ease congestion on the causeway to Singapore.