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4/15/2006

the crooked bridge,: a kl perception

A KL viewpoint From Khiary Jamaluddin, influential son-in-law of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. New Straits Times.Apr 15, 2006 GOVERNMENTS the world over will only consider a volte-face in policy as a last option. The one thing that political leaders want to avoid is a U-turn, a track back, a change of mind.... Why the about-turn, especially after some very strong and categorical statements from senior government leaders that work on a curved half-bridge would commence shortly? We knew the Singapore Government was not keen on a bridge replacing the Causeway. The last thing they want is easier access across the Johor Strait for Singaporeans to spend their money in Malaysia. They know that a new bridge combined with the new Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex would considerably alleviate traffic woes for the 70 million users of the Causeway every year and make the trip up north all the more palatable. A bridge would have also been a catalyst in promoting Johor as a cargo, logistics and transshipment gateway. They have also been aware for some months that the Prime Minister has earmarked southern Johor as a new growth centre for services, strategically positioning it as a competitor to Singapore which has natural limits to growth and a richly valued property market. With this in mind, they could not allow any project — like the bridge — that would accelerate the development of southern Johor. But obviously they couldn’t afford to be so obvious in showing their hand.... When dealing with slippery opponents, hardheadedness is the worst strategy. Call their bluff, change your mind, walk away, even float like a butterfly. Now they know it’s game on. * The writer is an investment banker and deputy head of BarisanNasional Youth. the above full article can be viewed from littlespeck.com. though khairy brought out many objective points, but the slant of the article is very obvious. that singapore is a slippery opponent with other objectives, and misleading the malaysians. his key argument is that singapore does not want to have a convenient access for singaporeans to visit jb or malaysia. putting aside arguments like the higher cost and toll fees and lesser relatively cheaper goods and services as reasons for singaporeans rushing over to malaysia, lets put his argument to the test. i would suggest that the malaysian govt, with all its sincere effort to build a wider and more convenient road of access to malaysia, propose to the singapore govt to widen the existing causeway to a 20 lane causeway. i am sure that will greatly reduce the jam and facilitate two way travel for the people. and to make it more attractive, do not increase the toll fees or maintain it at a reasonable level. then we will see whether the singapore govt will still object to extending the causeway. and that will prove that khairy is right, or wrong, if the singapore govt says go ahead with few demands.

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