Monday, April 13, 2015

The logic of the bridge to Singapore


Back in 2006-2007, in his effort to unseat Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad openly and publicly chided the PM for not building the ‘Crooked Bridge’.

The bridge, of course, has to be built crooked because it was going to be only half a bridge on the Malaysian side since Singapore does not agree to a bridge on their side of the Causeway. A straight bridge would be too short and therefore too low while if you want it built high it has to be longer, which means also meandering or crooked.

But why, in the first place, does Malaysia need the bridge to replace the Causeway and why does Singapore resist it?

If the Causeway is maintained ships will not be able to sail through the Johor Straits while a bridge would allow it. So Johor’s ports would benefit from the bridge. This also means the bridge will help Malaysia’s economy grow while it would have the reverse affect to Singapore.

In short, the bridge will improve Malaysia’s import-export trade while it will take away the business from Singapore. So Malaysia will boom while Singapore’s business will decline. And this is why Singapore opposes the bridge and also why Malaysia needs the bridge.

It all boils down to business rivalry between Singapore and Malaysia. Singapore will resist any move to boost Malaysia’s trade because this would rob Singapore of that trade. So anything in Malaysia’s favour would be against the interest of Singapore.

Johor can be the alternative to Singapore, argued Dr Mahathir. In fact, Johor can outgrow Singapore. But for that to happen the bridge first needs to be built. And that is why Dr Mahathir insists that the bridge be built and if the Prime Minister does not also agree then he must be ousted and replaced.

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