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Crooked Half-Bridge- another national folly!

Media statement
by Ronnie Liu

(Petaling Jaya, Friday): Malaysia must not proceed with plans to build the crooked bridge to replace its half of a causeway linking the country to Singapore. Such a bridge serves nobody but the ego of the former PM Mahathir Mohamad.

We are very disappointed with the announcement made by the deputy PM Najib Tun Razak. The crooked bridge could strain bilateral relations, which have warmed since the exit of Mahathir Mohamad in 2003.

In a Reuters report, Najib was quoted of saying "Yes, the bridge will proceed," Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters. "At the same time, the negotiations with Singapore are on-going too."

"In the event we can successfully conclude negotiations with Singapore, the bridge can be a full bridge," he said.

Mahathir had unveiled the unusual plan to build a crooked bridge to replace half of the 500-metre causeway spanning the Johor strait in 2003 after the island state rejected his original plan to jointly build a bridge to replace the entire causeway.

Singapore opposes the original plan on grounds of cost and has also raised environmental concerns over bridge.

As talks on the issue have dragged on, Malaysia made a serious mistake by going ahead with a key part of its 1.1 billion ringgit ($293 million) project, a customs, immigration and quarantine centre at Johor Baru, the main gateway to Malaysia from Singapore.

There is an ongoing process in place, agreed to by Singapore and Malaysia to discuss the bridge and other bilateral issues. We should not go ahead with the crooked bridge to risk another round of disputes between the two neighboring nations.

Calling it a "scenic bridge" does not really help to resolve the matter. We should work through more discussions before hurrying into a big and irreversible mistake.

We urge PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi stick to his earlier decision ( he aborted the plan after much protest from DAP and the UMNO MP Sharir Samad) and not to proceed with the crooked half-bridge under political pressure mounted within his party, UMNO. He should know that such a bridge is not a bridge. It will certainly become the eighth "wonders" of the modern day history if built.


* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP NGO Bureau

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