Friday, April 14, 2006

A straightened bridge

Building the Johor-Singapore Causeway - 1922Malaysia has finally conceded - they will give up their proposal to replace the present bridge connecting Singapore and Malaysia. The Causeway, as it is usually called, will stay and history is saved.

The Malaysian government did not go into specifics when they announced their decision - whether it was the legal complications that sunk their proposal, or the tremendous cost to them in acceding to Singapore's demands, or some other reasons - but this decision was a costly one, as they conceded. Contracts that have already been awarded will be re-imbursed by the Government (read: taxpayers) and their original plans for use of the waterway should the bridge be replaced by a suspension bridge will have to be shelved, putting paid to whatever reason it was that prompted the replacement bridge proposal in the first place.

As far as Singapore and Singaporeans are concerned, its a huge sigh of relief to see that common sense has prevailed, that we needn't have to spend money demolishing an otherwise good and functional bridge that has stood the test of time. Lest we call this a victory for Singapore, lets not forget that they are our neighbours. At the worst, we should live and let live. We don't want to be smug about this. The situation could have been worse. If not for the wisdom and magnanimity of Malaysian PM Ahmad Badawi, we'd be in for very rough waters, with neither side benefitting at all from this issue.

Right now, there are other matters that occupy motorists who cross the Causeway to Johor. Come May 2006, each car using the Causeway into Johor will have to pay a toll of RM20. Predictably, this has caused unhappiness among Singaporeans, but Malaysia is well within its rights to do so. Further, pumping petrol over at Johor, which many Singaporeans do before heading back to Singapore, is probably going to be a less attractive proposition as the Malaysia government will be piling on the taxes so that the Singaporean motorists cannot continue to take advantage of the petrol subsidies the Malaysian government hands out. This may adversely affect businesses in Johor with reduced frequency and number of Singapore customers. Ironically, many of these businesses in Johor are owned by Singaporeans (or at least have part equity), so Singapore businessmen plying their wares in Johor will also be adversely affected too. Talk about a double whammy.

There will always be issues between the two neighbours. We just have to talk more often to avert misunderstanding - something that its former PM Mahathir is averse to doing, which probably cause all these trouble in the first place.

1 comment :

Lam Chun See said...

Sorry of some of the belated comments on your old articles. I only just discovered your very interesting blog.