Monday, November 06, 2006

Royal Demolition Order, Part 3

As expected, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has dismissed the call by the Sultan of Johor to demolish the causeway and erect an overhead bridge project (which is a component of the integrated transport hub blueprint in JB as shown in the pix) linking Malaysia and Singapore.

Badawi has had no choice but to dismiss the latest idea as he had scrapped his predecessor Dr Mahathir Mohamad's overhead bridge project, which would have allowed small ships to traverse the Straits of Johor. Badawi had to say no to the overhead bridge project as he could not secure the nod of the Singapore government, which demanded a "balance of benefits" to jointly build a bridge.

Badawi's decision will probably remain as status quo, as the entire Malaysian cabinet had backed the sudden decision in April to stop the project although many had agreed to Dr Mahathir's decision to replace the causeway with a more environment-friendly bridge in the first place.

In fact, many cabinet ministers, including Badawi himself, had proclaimed the need to proceed with the bridge project just days before the sudden policy U-turn.

One wild card that may revive the call for the bridge project could be the general assembly of the United Malays National Organisation next week. Although Dr Mahathir has been muzzled, others may question why Malaysia should kow-tow to Singapore and scrap the bridge project to replace the causeway.

But many practical Umno members could also back the current leadership due to the allure and power of the incumbency.

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