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Petaling Jaya, Thursday): A public referendum on the crooked scenic bridge project would be the best way to resolve the destabilising political crisis caused by the fast and furious allegations and counter-allegations between Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his successor Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi to allow Malaysia to focus on becoming competitive and develop a first-class mentality to become a developed state.
The cancellation of the crooked bridge project has become politically destablising because the ferocity and personal vindictiveness of the criticism by both Mahathir and the government. This latest political crisis was sparked with Mahathir opposing the governmentís cancellation of the crooked scenic bridge as an act of selling your country in wanting to sell sand to Singapore, surrendering your sovereignty to Singapore and kowtowing to them as if you are scared as well have no self-respect.
This was countered by Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albarís who said that Mahathir was very litigious, implied that Mahathir was a liar as the government had no intention to sell sand and sand was sold to Singapore when Mahathir was Prime Minister, and openly accused him for raising sentiments that could harm unity by causing a situation that could lead to a political crisis when our country is stable and secure. In response Dr Mahathir had said if Malaysia "surrendered its sovereignty to Singapore", it was a "half-past-six nation with no guts" and that he had to resort to writing an open letter as the media refused to print his statements.
Today the Minister in the Prime Ministerís Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said that Mahathirís repeated admonition of the Government and his action in writing an open letter to Members of Parliament and politicians is an attempt to undermine the present administration. Such attacks and counter-attacks were not limited to Mahathir and Ministers but included both UMNO Youth Deputy President Khairy Jamaluddin and UMNO Youth senior EXCO member Mukhriz Mahathir. As Khairy is Abdullahís son-in-law and Mukhriz is Mahathirís son, both have naturally taken very personal positions on this matter.
These are strong words and serious allegations where every word except ďtreasonĒ has not been used. Clearly it is not only the crooked scenic bridge project across the Johor Strait that 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.
Equally interesting is the loud silence by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and those seen as aligned to him at Mahathirís 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.
Syed Hamid even had to go to RTM1 yesterday to explain the reasons behind the cancellation of the bridge project. The government is in a crisis mode and to put to rest such a destabilizing political crisis, a public referendum as suggested by Mahathir is probably the best solution. Even though DAP supports the cancellation of the crooked scenic bridge project, DAP also supports Mahathirís call for a public referendum as in line with the democracy and returning power to the people to decide.
There is nothing for the government to fear from holding the public referendum when what it is doing is right. DAP is willing to campaign in such a public referendum to support the cancellation of the scenic bridge project as many questions remained unanswered about the tender contract and the feasibility of its construction. Equally important, it would make Malaysia an international laughing-stock to have the first crooked bridge in the world as generally all bridges in the world are straight.
There must be closure between Mahathir and Abdullah on their dispute over the crooked scenic bridge project. Any drawn-out and protracted dispute between both former political allies will benefit no one. Instead it will only have an adverse impact on our economy and not assist in reducing the financial burden faced by Malaysians caused by growing inflation and slowing economic growth.