Johor MPs back new Malaysia-Singapore bridge plan

BEN TAN AND RIZALMAN HAMMIM New Straits Times 14 Apr 14;

BREAK WITH THE PAST: It can herald new era of warmer ties between Malaysia and Singapore, they say

JOHOR BARU: THE proposed Friendship Bridge between Malaysia and Singapore will hopefully put an end to past ill-feelings.

Johoreans and Singaporeans welcomed the plan to build a third bridge as it would strengthen ties between the two countries.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak proposed the Friendship Bridge at a press conference with his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong after the two-day annual Malaysia-Singapore Leaders' Retreat in Putrajaya last week.

Community leaders said the bridge would improve road connectivity and serve as a symbol of growing friendship between the two nations.

Veteran politician and Johor Baru member of parliament Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad said any project undertaken jointly by Malaysia and Singapore would be welcomed by Johor Baru residents.

"This joint commitment can herald a new era after the bitterness and suspicion caused by the debate over a new bridge to replace the Causeway nearly a decade ago."

Shahrir, who is also a member of the Iskandar Regional Development Authority board of advisers, said a unilateral Malaysian decision in the past to build that bridge could now be a joint project by both countries.

"I sincerely hope that the Friendship Bridge is really to replace the Causeway."

Pulai MP Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed shared Shahrir's sentiments, saying the proposed bridge would be a start to better things between the two countries.

"Johoreans must begin to look ahead. The past may have created some ill-feelings between the people of both countries but, now, there is an opportunity for both nations to forge ahead."

Nur Jazlan said Johoreans and Singaporeans had to look at the opportunities that south Johor's Iskandar Malaysia had in terms of economic growth for both sides.

He said the proposed third bridge, depending on its location, would boost the economies of the two countries.

There are two land links between Johor and Singapore, the Causeway here and the Second Link in Gelang Patah. It is not known if the proposed bridge will replace the Causeway or will be built in the state capital.

The Causeway and Second Link are heavily utilised because of the massive development in Iskandar Malaysia, where Singapore's Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd is also involved.

More than 200,000 cars from Singapore enter Johor Baru daily via the Causeway and Second Link.

The figure is higher on weekends and the two entry points find it difficult to cope with the increasing traffic volume.

Read more: Johor MPs back new bridge plan - General - New Straits Times