Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mickey Mouse going to Malaysia? Part 2

Can Malaysia's southern state of Johor succeed in luring Mickey Mouse (Image from Wikipedia) when it can't even get the basic infrastructure in place?

According to Bernama yesterday, Johor chief minister Abdul Ghani Othman said there is a need for a better transport network between the state and neighbouring Singapore as investments flow into the Iskandar Development Region in Johor.

The Johor state has grand plan to house a Walt Disney theme park within IDR.

The chief minister said building a rail link to connect to Singapore's Mass Rapid Transit subway system remains crucial. But Johor's own light rail system remains a concept at this stage.

The chief minister also suggested building more ferry terminals to ferry people across the Straits of Johor, which separates the two countries.

Will the ferry plan work? It will have rather limited effect as the Straits of Johor is blocked by the land-based causeway. The two countries have not been able to agree on a simple plan to build a new overhead bridge to replace the old and dilapidated causeway, as noted in a previous posting.

As a result, many people on both sides of the Causeway have had to endure the daily crawl on the overused land bridge, compounded by slow immigration clearance by the two governments.

The new Malaysian Immigration complex, which was supposed to be linked to the aborted bridge project, will soon be completed. Will it help ease the bottleneck? Unlikely. This is because the causeway, which was built more than 80 years ago, simply cannot handle the volume of traffic today.

More tourists will continue to flock to Singapore and Malaysia in the next few years. In the case of Singapore, Las Vegas Sands and Genting International have gone full-steam ahead in building their casino resorts that are expected to be completed in 3-4 years.

But don't expect tourists to Singapore to make a beeline to see Mickey Mouse in Malaysia if Johor can't even fix the basic infrastructure of its southern gateway.

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