Thursday, April 23, 2009


Today, I saw some people interviewing the bus officers at work at the normal queues in the CIQ. They could be from the press or could be some officials from the government. Whoever they are, the interviewing is worthless if not to the users like me. Therefore, I am not surprised with all the results shown in the news which contradicts what the general public really thinks.

I read about this article by an almost 20 years user of the causeway:
The Crooked Bridge Return With Cronies

What is said might be true. Everyone in Johor Bahru knows Danga Bay has a cruise ship and many other luxury boats parking at its bay. There has been a lot of saying that they plan to have a cruise tour through the crooked bridge when the plan was first mentioned years back. I also like how the person said the crooked bridge is built to create more problems so more projects can be generated later.

a) Rebuilding of the Railway Lane. The idea is to have a Swing Railway Bridge.

b) The 3 giant water pipelines to Singapore need to be relocated.

c) May be, later they will create another excuse that the sea level along the Malaysia- Singapore Border is shallow so the ship couldn’t pass through. So they need to deepen the sea for the distance of >< 50 km from West to East.

Read the following two more articles related to the crooked bridge. I will have my comments in red wherever I need to say something. All I have to say is show me the research and report on how the crooked bridge can help ease traffic jam. Please don't give your comments by putting in the words: might, may, could, can, will and would. These are no guarantees, these are just words without any strong points to convince me.

The other excuses of enhancing the Iskandar Development Region, as a landmark to attract tourism, improve business in the city centre and meeting the aspiration of the people in Johor Bahru are stupid, lame and pathetic!

Stop pushing for the crooked bridge — Koon Yew Yin

APRIL 21 — Ever since Tun Dr. Mahathir rejoined Umno, he has been interfering in the new government under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Once again in the media and now, in his own blog site, he is pushing hard for building the crooked bridge. This time though, Mahathir is playing his last trump card by appealing to our Malaysian sense of patriotism and nationalism and by trying to whip up anti-Singaporean sentiments.

This is clear from his first sentence on the subject as well as his last sentence as found in his blog posting on April 20 on "The Crooked Bridge".

His first sentence notes that “The Star reported that Chinese businessmen in Johor Baru want the Crooked Bridge to be built" and his last sentence asks: "Does the Government need to ask Singapore for permission to build the now desirable crooked bridge? Is Malaysia free to do things in its own territory? Are we really independent? I wonder.”

The public should note that the latest Mahathir blast on the bridge contains no clear or strong justification for building the crooked bridge – no economic reason, no technical reason and most important of all, no balanced analysis of the pros and cons of building the bridge.

The blog note may in fact be construed as just a naked appeal to primordial sentiment. Hopefully, the new PM will not allow himself to be bullied by Mahathir but will instead stand his ground on this issue.

However, should the pressure from the Mahathir camp continue to grow and become difficult to ignore, one way of defusing it is to have full public disclosure of the crooked bridge project, its history, the major and minor players who have been involved in it, the findings of various feasibility studies dealing with it, various cost-benefit scenarios and not least of all, the financial ramifications of the project, including the payment of more than RM100 million to the contractor for the decision to stop the proposal – a payment made despite the fact that the contractor did not do any physical construction work on site.

Let the public be provided with all the facts of the project (much of which has not been available because of the Official Secrets Act) and let the public (especially competent professionals) help in the decision after a full and fair appraisal. If the crooked bridge is to be built, it must only be done because it is doable and in the best interests of the country and not just because the former Prime Minister wants it.

As an old engineer, let me touch on some of the insurmountable difficulties involved in building the bridge that should be part of the appraisal process when considering the crooked bridge construction.

1. One of the objectives for breaking up the existing causeway is to allow ships to bypass Singapore port which will automatically affect Singapore’s economy. That is why Singapore is not giving us the permission to break their portion of the causeway. As a result, Dr. Mahathir’s lobbyists have proposed building the crooked bridge.

2. The bridge must be high enough to allow ships to go under the bridge. For such a short span, the gradient will be too steep for any train to climb. Moreover, trains cannot negotiate sharp bends.

3. I remember reading that this matter was discussed in the Singapore Parliament. It was pointed out that if Malaysia did not maintain the railway for longer than 6 months, Singapore could claim the right of all the railway land in Singapore territory.

4. I also remember that when we tried to stop Singapore’s reclamation work, the matter was referred to the international court for the sea. The court decided that both countries have to agree for any development project within a certain distance from the boundary. I doubt if we can break up half of the existing causeway on our side without Singapore’s agreement.

As a final point, it is clear that in view of the global recession’s serious impact on the Malaysian economy, the Government must be more careful in spending the hard earned money of our Malaysian tax payers.

This is not the time to pour money into resurrected white elephant or ego-building projects. All major projects need to be implemented only after careful and rigorous cost-benefit evaluation studies that should be open to public scrutiny.

The practice of awarding large contracts without open competitive tenders such as was done in the case of the initial contract for the crooked bridge must not be continued.

If an open and competitive tender system is the norm in the country’s procurement, I am sure that Mahathir’s cronies will stop pestering to build the crooked bridge because they may not secure the contract if they have to compete with other contractors.

* Koon Yew Yin is a reader of The Malaysian Insider

Dr M: Scenic bridge will enhance Iskandar project
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Written by Chan Kok Leong, THE EDGE

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad strongly believes that completing the scenic bridge will only enhance the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) project. (The jam will be guaranteed to stop once the crooked bridge is built? Show me some convincing research.)

The elder statesman said that the bridge will improve traffic flow between Singapore and Malaysia and hence benefit IDR.

When asked if cutbacks in other areas were necessary to finish the bridge, Mahathir said: "No, we don’t need to cut back on anything.

"If you build the bridge, the Iskandar project will take off. If you don’t the traffic jams will persist. (The problem is the very right cornering of the 2 lanes. The crooked bridge is of the same width. Can you convince me traffic jam will disappear? If there are at least 4 lanes one way to connect directly to the causeway, I will probably be convinced.)

"The bridge was designed to overcome traffic jams. Now, the traffic jams are getting worse and the new Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex in Bukit Chagar cannot be utilised properly," said the 83-year-old statesman. (Show me data and information how it can overcome traffic jams. By the look at the half finished bridge, it is not any different than the current one.)

The scenic bridge project was the brainchild of Mahathir before he left office in 2003.

However, the project also known as "crooked bridge" encountered issues in his predecessor’s time.

Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, citing the reason that Singapore had not agreed with the project, jettisoned the idea midway after it had began, incurring the wrath of Mahathir.

An unnamed source told the Singapore Straits Times on Tuesday that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had told Johor Umno at a closed-door meeting that any review of the scrapped plan would be decided only after discussions with Singapore.

Besides improving bilateral traffic, Mahathir had also wanted to boost local ports by allowing ships to pass under the bridge instead of being forced to re-route around Singapore.

The bridge would have to be curved in shape to allow for the road to gain the necessary height in such a short distance.

Earlier, Mahathir gave the opening speech at the MSC Malaysia Leadership Talk Series 2009 at a hotel in Cyberjaya and then conducted a question-and-answer session with the invited guests.

In his speech, Mahathir urged the country to take stock of its attributes and make use of them in this time of crisis.

He suggested to the guests who were mainly from the information technology sector that two areas which could be developed is the field of animation and robotics.

The pioneer of Malaysia’s multimedia super corridor also urged IT companies to focus on quality and step up their research efforts.

Malaysia’s Crooked Bridge rears its ugly head once more
Thursday, 23 April 2009

Mahathir's return to the political fold has a number of implications, including the very real possibility that some of the cash from Malaysia's massive fiscal stimulus plan (9pc of GDP) is channeled into the sort of grandiose projects that he champions.

by Ben Bland,

Of all the harebrained schemes that have ever been dreamt up by egotistical political leaders, former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad's plan for a "crooked bridge" linking peninsula Malaysia with Singapore surely ranks among the most bizarre (see artist's impression).

And, as the 83- year-old Mahathir has drifted back onto the political scene after his ally Najib Razak took the reins of power last month, so the vexed issue of the crooked bridge has reared up once more.

The existing main causeway linking northern Singapore with the city of Johor Bahru in Malaysia is far too narrow and is plagued by traffic jams and long delays, particularly at the weekend and on public holidays.

Mahathir, who showed a persistent fondness for massive infrastructure projects during his 22 years in office, wanted to build a much wider bridge over the straits of Johor but could not convince a Singaporean government that he had often purposefully antagonised to reach agreement with him.

His proposed solution was to unilaterally build a new bridge over the Malaysian half of the straits, which would connect to the old Singaporean causeway at the halfway point.

Because Mahathir also wanted to boost Malaysia's burgeoning ports by allowing ships to pass under the bridge instead of being forced to re-route all the way round Singapore, the bridge would have to be curved in shape to allow for the road to gain the necessary height in such a short distance.

About a week ago, reports started surfacing in the Malaysian newspapers, which are almost all controlled by members of the ruling coalition and their allies, of calls for the crooked bridge plan, which was jettisoned by Mahathir 's successor Abdullah Badawi, to be resurrected.

That got people talking and now Mahathir has fanned the flames himself in a rather cryptic post on his blog entitled "The Crooked Bridge", which is a response to the calls for the project to be revisited.

"Does the Government need to ask Singapore for permission to build the now desirable crooked bridge?" he writes. "Is Malaysia free to do things in its own territory? Are we really independent? I wonder."

As this article on Asia Sentinel (which I also write for) explains, Mahathir's return to the political fold has a number of implications, including the very real possibility that some of the cash from Malaysia's massive fiscal stimulus plan (9pc of GDP) is channeled into the sort of grandiose projects that he champions.

The major concern about such "visionary" plans in Malaysia has always been that the juicy government contracts that are generated end up in the hands of those closest to the politicians in power rather than those best placed to complete the project on time and on budget.

Hence, the old joke about the crooked bridge being designed to represent the true nature of Malaysia-Singapore relations: Singapore is straight and Malaysia is crooked.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home