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NEWS UPDATES 21 June 2009

Malaysia’s Johor residents oppose third bridge

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There has been growing opposition in Malaysia to the proposed building of a third bridge between Singapore and Malaysia, reported Singapore’s Strait Times, citing an online news website Malaysiakini.

Some of the arguments against it, the website said, stem from economics and practical constraints rather than politics.

Reports of growing opposition have emerged in the wake of the proposal made by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak when he visited Singapore last month.

Najib had explained that a new bridge would spur economic development in eastern Johor, but his idea was criticised by the Sultan of Johor as well as former premier Mahathir Mohamad.

Dr Mahathir had wanted a 'crooked bridge' replacement, but his successor Abdullah Badawi had cancelled plans to build it.

Johor residents, too, said Johor Baru MP Shahrir Abdul Samad, were against the third bridge. “The problems of the Causeway have yet to be solved and the second bridge is yet to be fully utilised, why build the third bridge?” he told Malaysiakini.

Many politicians have called for the Malaysian government to improve the Causeway, which is constantly congested.

Many of one million residents in Malaysia’s Johor, which borders Singapore, reportedly said building a bridge between lightly populated Desaru in eastern Johor and Singapore's Changi Airport will not serve their needs.

The Johor side of the proposed link is in Pengkalan, which residents say is too far from Johor Baru. Some even say a third bridge, if built, could go the same way as the Second Link, which now connects western Johor and Tuas in Singapore.

“In the past 10 years, I used the bridge not more than three times,” Malaysiakini quoted Johor Baru Chinese Association chief Lim Ik Kim as saying. “The third bridge is not required at the moment. We may need it in 10 years' time. Although theoretically it could stimulate the economy and tourism in the area, its location is too far,” he added.


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