A Malaysian minister has suggested a "third bridge" linking Johor and Singapore to ease congestion experienced by those who commute between the two countries daily, after the controversial idea of a "crooked bridge" was revived by Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian.
Land Minister Xavier Jayakumar yesterday suggested a new link from Johor's Pasir Gudang industrial area to Singapore's Pulau Punggol Barat, near Seletar Airport.
There are currently two crossings into Johor - the Causeway in Woodlands and the Second Link in Tuas.
"In my opinion... Malaysia and Singapore are in dire need of a third bridge, crooked or otherwise. At present, those who commute across both countries on a daily basis are well aware of the long and arduous hours to get across... the Causeway and Second Link," he said in a statement. "The issue continues to plague motorists, with the heavy traffic jams becoming much worse during the festive season."
Datuk Osman said on Tuesday that he had raised the crooked bridge issue with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Mr Osman said the bridge and the issue of the price of water would be raised at an upcoming bilateral meeting in Singapore.
Tun Dr Mahathir first raised the idea of a complete bridge to replace the Causeway in 2002. When Singapore did not agree to replace its half of the Causeway, he planned to build an S-shaped half-bridge - known as the crooked bridge due to its shape - on the Malaysian side. The project was cancelled by his successor, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, in April 2006.
Mr Jayakumar, a vice-president in Parti Keadilan Rakyat - a member of the ruling Pakatan Harapan government - said having a third land link between Johor and Singapore would make more sense than building a half-bridge at the Causeway.
Malaysian Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali said on Wednesday that a crooked bridge project at the Causeway is not a priority.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responding to media queries on Mr Osman's remarks, said yesterday: "The Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia, which will meet later this year, does not have the mandate to discuss issues related to the 1962 Water Agreement.
"Singapore has also not received any official proposal or communications from Malaysia related to the construction of a crooked bridge or any other new link between Singapore and Malaysia."