'Crooked bridge' not priority project: KL minister

Johor DAP chief Liew Chin Tong says the party supports the idea of a third bridge linking Johor and Singapore but the immediate priority is to improve traffic flow on the Causeway which includes the management of the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ).VIDEO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali yesterday said he will look into a proposal to build a "crooked bridge" that was raised by the Johor government, but that the government prioritises projects that benefit the people.

Responding to the idea of a bridge to replace the Malaysian side of the Causeway, Datuk Seri Azmin said he would look into the matter once the Johor state government raises it at the federal level.

He said projects such as roads and hospitals have priority over those like the crooked bridge that would have to depend on Malaysia's fiscal situation, which he described as "not good at present".

"Once we see the proposal, the ministry will look into the matter and see whether we have the capacity at this point in time to continue with the project," he told reporters.

The idea to revive the crooked bridge was raised on Tuesday by Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian, who said the Johor state government will hold a meeting with Singapore officials at the end of this month, during which the possibility of reviving the controversial project will be raised.

The idea to replace the Malaysian side of the Causeway was first floated in 2003 by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. It was dubbed crooked bridge as the infrastructure would involve a six-lane, S-shaped road that would allow vessels to pass underneath.

The plan was dropped when Tun Abdullah Badawi took over as prime minister in late 2003.

There are two land links into Johor - the Causeway in Woodlands and the Second Link bridge in Tuas.

Earlier yesterday, the Johor chief of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) said the crooked bridge proposal is a good idea but not an immediate priority. Mr Liew Chin Tong said the DAP, one of the parties in Malaysia's ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, would instead support a proposal for a third land link.

"We think the crooked bridge is not an immediate priority," said Mr Liew, who is also Malaysia's Deputy Defence Minister. "For the third bridge project, we will be happy to support and maybe we can seriously consider it. The main focus should be to ensure speedy traffic flow of people and goods on both sides, which is why DAP is prepared to support the idea of a third bridge."

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2018, with the headline ''Crooked bridge' not priority project: KL minister'. Print Edition | Subscribe