True to its nature of a coalition, the Malaysia government’s stand on the revival of the Johor crooked bridge has taken on a coalition of voices.
Just Tuesday, the Johor Chief Minister Osman Sapian said that the possibility of reviving the crooked bridge linking Johor and Singapore would be raised at a meeting between the state’s government and Singapore officials soon. The request is now pending Dr M’s approval and Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali will be attending the meeting.
The crooked bridge is a project mooted by Dr M before he retired as prime minister in 2003. The project was discontinued by subsequent Malaysian prime ministers and recently revived after Dr M returned to power.
Just when we thought Malaysians, who are supposedly deep in debt, have recently discovered new money sources to replace their side of the Causeway (when it’s perfectly ok), their own Minister quickly jumped in to put things in order.
A day after Osman Sapian’s statement, Minister Azmin Ali clarified that a proposal has not been raised by the Johor state government on the crooked bridge. He added that roads and hospitals have priority over the crooked bridge and reiterated that the Malaysia government’s fiscal situation is “not good at present”.
On the same day, Malaysia’s Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong said that he would support a proposal for a third land link project linking to Singapore instead even though the crooked bridge is a good idea.
Liew is the Johor chief of the Democratic Action Party, Minister Azmin Ali is from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), while Osman Sapian is from Dr Mahathir’s party PPBM. All three parties are members of the Pakatan Harapan.
One issue. Three different voices from the same government.
Just in case anyone goes off with the wrong idea, our MFA issued a response today, saying that Singapore has not “received any official proposal or communications from Malaysia related to the construction of a crooked bridge or any other new link between Singapore and Malaysia”.
Malaysia is in a political phase that it has never been before. Its current ruling coalition was, not so long ago, the opposition alliance with very little central government experience (except for Dr M). It has a Prime Minister who has returned for a second term at the grand old age of 93; a Prime Minister-in-waiting, in the form of the inspirational Anwar who is 71 this year, and its largest opposition was the dominant party in the ruling coalition just half a year ago.
Plenty of uncertainty. Little wonder all these mixed messages. Guess the best way to handle such a situation is to play it cool, just like how the popular Crown Prince of Johor do it in his nonchalant-sounding tweets: