JOHOR BAHARU, Nov 6 (Bernama) -- Singapore's reluctance to participate in the construction of a bridge to replace the Johor Causeway is the reason why the project could not be implemented, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Monday.
The deputy prime minister said the government faced a deadlock and finally decided to abort the project.
"Actually, we've never objected to the construction of the bridge in place of the existing causeway. We've never said that we don't want to do it.
"There were two barriers. Firstly, if we had wanted to build a straight bridge, Singapore sought reciprocity, namely the sale of large quantities of sand and the use of our airspace (for its fighter jets). They're difficult for us to accept politically. So, we couldn't build a straight bridge.
"Secondly, when we wanted to build a crooked bridge, Singapore objected to it and hinted that it might raise the matter with the international court," he told reporters after closing the Johor Umno Convention, here.
Najib said that when faced with a deadlock like that, the Cabinet decided that it would be better to cancel the project.
"So, that's the basis of our decision," he said when commenting on a call by Sultan Iskandar of Johor last Saturday for the causeway to be removed so that Johor could become more developed.
Asked on the possibility of the project being carried out in the future, Najib said: "We don't know what'll happen in the future. But we cannot do something unilaterally because we're bound by international laws and the water (supply) agreement that we've signed with Singapore," he said.
If Singapore was sincere, the project could have long been carried out, he said.
He said the government understood and respected the views from various parties about the project, including that from the Sultan of Johor. "The government also understands why the matter keeps cropping up," he said.
In KUALA LUMPUR, Barisan Nasional Back Benchers Club (BNBBC) acting chairman Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainudin Raja Omar said the 1.05km causeway built in 1920 need not be demolished because it would not interfere with the Iskandar Development Region project in southern Johor.
The causeway was a symbol of good relations between the people and governments of Malaysia and Singapore, he said.
"We need to retain it ... I don't see why it needs to be removed," he told reporters at the Parliament lobby.
He said the government would have to incur a huge cost if it wanted to dismantle the causeway that has high historical value to the people of both countries.
Sunday, speaking in Islamabad, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the Johor Causeway, built during the British colonial administration, would remain as it is.
tags : tun dr mahathir mohamad malaysia pm abdullah ahmad badawi najib razak bridge singapore