Crooked Bridge : A Mahathir Dream That Was Too Long In The Making – Tun M Brought Down Badawi & Najib Because Of Crooked Bridge Dream

“In the early stages after I became prime minister, around 2009 and even after the 13th general election, we were still on very good terms,” Najib said.

He said, however, Dr Mahathir grew increasingly angry at him due to his refusal to fulfill Dr Mahathir’s many requests. He said the first thing Dr Mahathir requested for was the crooked bridge project, a six-lane S-shaped highway meant to replace the link from Johor Baru to Singapore, of which Najib was not able to approve.

“The project was cancelled by (former Prime Minister) Pak Lah (Abdullah). It would be very hard for me to explain to the public if we restart the project, especially after hefty compensation, was already paid for the cancellation,” Najib said.

In an interview, Dr Mahathir said Najib had supported the project when he took over office from Abdullah in 2009, adding: “He was my hope after Pak Lah (Abdullah) resigned. He said he would build the bridge when he became the prime minister, even if Singapore opposed it. But he didn’t do it.”

The crooked bridge, later referred to as the “scenic bridge”, was supposed to replace the Johor-Singa­pore Causeway. First mooted by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1996, it was meant to ease traffic congestion in Johor Baru, improve water quality and reduce pollution in the Straits of Johor. Initially, Singapore said it was willing to work with Malaysia on the bridge, but only if it was included in a package of bilateral issues to be discussed, including Malaysia’s water supply to the republic after 2061. When the water issue was separated from the package in October 2002, Singapore called off its plan for the new bridge. Jayakumar also said Malaysia had not consulted with Singapore for its plan to replace half of the Causeway with a new bridge. A stand-off ensued and Malaysia decided to go it alone. On Aug 1, 2003, Dr Mahathir announced that Malaysia would not seek Singapore’s involvement in the project, adding that Malaysia would build its half of the bridge and had no choice but to opt for a “crooked” bridge due to environmental and commercial necessities. The bridge would be a six-lane S-shaped highway that would curve in such a way that it would allow vessels to pass under it. Dr Mahathir said Singapore’s senior minister at the time, Lee Kuan Yew, told him that then Singapore prime minister Goh Chok Tong was not in favour of a new bridge as “he has a sense of nostalgia for the Cause­way” and that “we can construct a bridge after Goh’s retirement”. The bridge, which was to be at least 25m high, would allow better water flow and enable the passage of vessels underneath its span. It would also facilitate transportation of cargo from Pasir Gudang to the Tanjung Pelepas port. In December 2003, the construction of a new CIQ complex in Bukit Chagar for the project began. On Jan 28, 2006, Dr Mahathir, who had stepped down as the country’s prime minister some three years earlier, said he was happy that Malaysia was still going ahead with building the bridge. Responding to an earlier news report that the bridge be referred to as the “scenic bridge”, he said in jest: “I thought it was ‘cynic’ bridge. Is that how you spell it?” But his successor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced in April that the government had decided to stop the construction of the “scenic bridge” due to legal implications and complications. He said the negative res­ponse of the people towards the conditions set by Singapore as a trade-off – for sand and the use of airspace – was another reason for the cancellation. Unhappy with the decision, Dr Mahathir said the Cabinet had “surrendered national sovereignty”. Due to the cancellation, the ­govern­ment had to fork out hundreds of millions of ringgit in compensation and build an alternative route to the CIQ in Bukit Chagar. On Oct 24, 2007, Finance Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said the government had approved RM292.52mil as compensation, inc­luding RM55mil in claims for groundwork that had been carried out. On April 13, 2015, Dr Mahathir accused Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak of breaking his promise to resume the bridge project. In an interview, Dr Mahathir said Najib had supported the project when he took over office from Abdullah in 2009, adding: “He was my hope after Pak Lah (Abdullah) resigned. He said he would build the bridge when he became the prime minister, even if Singapore opposed it. But he didn’t do it.” Source : The Star Source : The Coverage Dr. Mahathir has asked Najib to revive the crooked bridge project but Nazri has responded that the bridge will not be built. Why is Mahathir so adamant about this bridge, a crooked one which will be a symbol of shame and defeat rather than pride and value? This article seeks to shed some light on Mahathir’s stubbornness in wanting the crooked bridge to be built. He had plenty of time, from the break in talks with Singapore over the bridge issue till his so-called retirement, to build the crooked bridge or do whatever he wanted to Malaysia’s part of the Causeway. Yet, all Mahathir did was talk, grumble and criticize Singapore. No action, just hot air. But just before retiring, he launched the billion ringgit crooked bridge project to replace Malaysia’s half of the Causeway. Which responsible leader would start a controversial mega-project and leave it to his successor to complete? Mahathir did. Why? Because he knew that the project would have serious implications and would bring Malaysia in direct confrontation with Singapore, and he (Mahathir) didn’t want to face Lee Kwan Yew openly. In his usual style of pretence, he launched the crooked bridge to deceive the Rakyat that he was strong and dared to go against Singapore. Dr. Mahathir started the project just before retiring and left the problems, issues, controversies to be handled by Abdullah Badawi, someone who was not Mahathir’s choice for PM, someone who had never been known for clear thinking and decisive action. For whatever reason best known to himself, Badawi decided to cancel the crooked bridge shortly after becoming the PM and incurred the wrath and scorn of his predecessor who had initiated it. From the way Dr. Mahathir responded to Badawi’s cancellation of the crooked bridge and how he continues to harp on it even today, it is clear that that bridge was and still is very very close to Mahathir’s heart. Yet, he did not complete the construction of the crooked bridge before stepping down. Why? Because he was afraid of the consequences and could blame someone else (Badawi), as he had always done, should anything go wrong. Source : Malaysia Today Though Dr Mahathir accused Mr Najib in an interview at the weekend of breaking a vow to build the bridge and of being cowed by Singapore’s resistance to the project, he said in a blog posting yesterday that he would have called for the Prime Minister’s resignation even before the 2013 General Election if he had been angered by Mr Najib’s snub. “If it were because of the crooked bridge that I am angry, I would have called for his resignation before the 13th General Election. Instead, I campaigned for his victory. His leadership in Selangor was ineffective,” he wrote, referring to the Umno-led Barisan Nasional coalition’s loss in the country’s richest state. Source : Asia One The Crooked Bridge issue has cropped up again in Dr Mahathir’s second attempt to oust a sitting prime minister. Since then, the infamous Crooked Bridge that would have taken us halfway to Singapore and the double tracking rail project have also emerged among the list of grievances that Dr Mahathir has against Najib’s leadership. The leading Chinese newspaper Sin Chew Daily has carried several scathing articles about the bridge, saying that it would have made Malaysia the laughing stock of the world. Sin Chew Daily did not think highly of the need for a halfway bridge just so that Malaysia should thumb its nose at Singapore. Malaysia’s relationship with Singapore is not about who kowtows to who but it should be about mutual respect and benefit. The Crooked Bridge and the railway project are seen as grandiose projects. Some term them as “legacy projects”. The thing about Dr Mahathir is that he has always been a big idea leader who regards such projects like the North-South Expressway, Bakun Dam and Twin Towers as part of national pride and identity, regardless of the cost. There is also this bizarre feeling that his campaign against Najib is not entirely about Umno’s future and that it is also about him having a bigger say over the direction of the government and country. Many Mahathir-watchers think he has trouble letting go after 22 years in the driver’s seat. Whoever takes over from Najib had better be prepared to build the Crooked Bridge and the rail project or face the music. Source : The Star  

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