MERSING - The Sultan of Johor has expressed serious reservations about the proposed curved design of the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link between Malaysia and Singapore, and the plans to build an elevated bridge for it.
Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar said he welcomed the project, but the curved design of the rail link between Woodlands in Singapore and Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru was impractical, unsustainable and potentially costly.
"Why do we have to have a curved design when we can have a more practical design that is straighter and closer to the Causeway?" he said in an exclusive interview with Malaysia's New Straits Times (NST)."I am proposing that the design be aligned as such for practicality and it will cost less," he said.
He also questioned the need for an elevated bridge.
"Why do they need an elevated bridge with up to 30m air draft (clearance height from water to a vessel's height) unless there are plans to remove the Causeway?" he said. "It disrupts the city skyline, and we are talking about a permanent fixture here. Go back to the drawing board and review the overall plan."
The Sultan proposed that the bridge be at the same height as the Causeway, or just slightly elevated.
"The parties also have to consult me. Whatever (new plan) is presented to me, it will have to be logical, economical and sustainable for the benefit of not only Johoreans but all Malaysians and Singaporeans," he was quoted as saying.
According to The Star news site, the Johor state government yesterday voiced its support for the Sultan. Mentri Besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin said: "We have taken note of Tuanku's views and we support it and will forward the suggestions to Kuala Lumpur."
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Rahman Dahlan, in a statement yesterday, explained that the RTS project and alignment are based on a series of extensive discussions and studies over several years, which has been agreed with the Singapore Government. "We acknowledge the issues and concerns raised by His Royal Highness ... and will seek an immediate audience with His Royal Highness as soon as the palace has confirmed the date," he said.
Sultan Ibrahim said he would raise his concerns over the RTS Link's design at a meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong next month, and would convey key points of that discussion to the Malaysian government and the media.
A spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Transport said yesterday: "Singapore is committed to the RTS Link project, and we have been discussing its various aspects with the Malaysian government since 2010, through the Joint Ministerial Committee on Iskandar Malaysia." The RTS Link is intended to improve connectivity and reduce congestion at border crossings between Singapore and Malaysia.
CALL FOR A NEW JOINT VENTURE
The project is entirely in Johor; so why should Prasarana be involved? Let the Johor government and Singapore have a joint venture and I can raise funds if need be.
SULTAN IBRAHIM SULTAN ISKANDAR
Both countries have agreed to jointly appoint an operating company to run and maintain the cross-border line's operating systems, with Singapore's SMRT Corp and Malaysia's Prasarana being invited to be part of the venture.
In the interview, Sultan Ibrahim said the Johor government should undertake a joint venture with Singapore. "The project is entirely in Johor; so why should Prasarana be involved? Let the Johor government and Singapore have a joint venture and I can raise funds if need be," he said.