Johor Umno may discuss crooked bridge soon

KUALA LUMPUR • The ruling Umno's Johor state leadership is expected to raise discussions on the so-called crooked bridge to Singapore at the end of the month, amid a tussle for influence in the southern state between Prime Minister Najib Razak and his sacked deputy Muhyiddin Yassin.

Bernama news agency reported Johor Umno secretary Md Jais Sarday as saying yesterday that "at the end of this month, after all the divisional delegates' meetings have been completed, we will hold the Johor Umno liaison committee meeting, which means the crooked bridge issue will be raised".

He was responding to Datuk Seri Najib's speech at the Pasir Gudang Umno division meeting on Sunday that it would be up to Johor Umno leaders to provide a basis to revive the project first mooted by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad when he was prime minister.

Several state Umno leaders have criticised the sacking of Tan Sri Muhyiddin, who is Umno deputy president. He was also Johor's menteri besar for nearly a decade.

Earlier this year, Mr Najib suggested that his decision not to carry out construction of the crooked bridge to replace the Malaysian side of the Causeway was central to Dr Mahathir's withdrawal of support for his administration.

Dr Mahathir subsequently said that notwithstanding Mr Najib breaking a vow to build the bridge, he would call for the prime minister's resignation because of his "ineffective leadership".

Dr Mahathir, who led Malaysia for 22 years until 2003,  first mooted replacing the Causeway  with a bridge in 2001 to ease traffic congestion, improve the marine environment as well as allow

ships to sail across the Johor Strait, which would be a major boost for Johor's  two ports.

His successor Abdullah Badawi was tasked with ensuring that the bridge was built but he announced in 2006 that the entire bridge project would be abandoned.

His failure to push ahead with replacing the Causeway led Dr Mahathir to launch his attacks, which eventually saw Tun Abdullah resigning in 2009.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2015, with the headline 'Johor Umno may discuss crooked bridge soon'. Print Edition | Subscribe