What’s crooked and old? A bridge to replace causeway

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 – DAP and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), allies in the Pakatan Harapan, seem to be heading for a showdown over the infamous “crooked bridge” to connect Malaysia and Singapore.

Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian, who is also the state Bersatu secretary, said yesterday that there was a possibility of reviving the “crooked bridge” project and that he was awaiting the green light from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

It was reported that Osman had discussed the idea of reviving the bridge linking Johor to Singapore with the prime minister in a meeting last month.

However, speaking to reporters in the Parliament building today, Johor DAP chairman and Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong said the “crooked bridge” was not a priority.

“We will be happy to support a third bridge project. But the main focus should be to ensure speedy traffic flow of people and goods on both sides.

“That is why we think that the crooked bridge is not an immediate priority,” Liew was quoted as saying by The Star.

Third link: Did Johor govt change original plans?

It was reported in August that the new Johor state government plans to build a third bridge in Sungai Rengit in Pengerang, Kota Tinggi district to ease traffic congestion at the Johor Causeway and the Second Link Crossing.

The expected time frame for that third link was stated as three to four years. It is not known if that option is no more, with Mahathir pushing for the “crooked bridge” to be revived in his meeting with Osman last month.

The proposed Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail that the new PH government has delayed until May 2020, will also see a fourth link exclusively for the express rail service between the two countries.

“Crooked bridge” cancellation earned wrath of Mahathir¬†

The crooked bridge project was mooted by Mahathir shortly before he retired from his first tenure as prime minister in 2003.

His idea was to build a bridge that would work around Singapore’s refusal to demolish its half of the causeway link between Johor Bahru and the island republic. It involved constructing a six-lane S-shaped highway that allows vessels to pass under it.

The dispute then was because Mahathir believed building a new bridge would allow for some ships to pass through the Johor Straits in its way to the South China Sea, instead of having to go further and pass the Singapore Straits.

The project was dropped by Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when he became prime minister, which led to Mahathir fiercely opposing his hand-picked successor.

Some political observers had suggested that the Pakatan Harapan chairman would bring up the idea again, especially after he mooted the idea of a third national car against the wishes of many PH supporters.

– NMT