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Putrajaya can recoup ‘crooked bridge’ spending, insists Mahathir

BANGKOK — Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday evening (Oct 25) sought to allay concerns surrounding the controversial “crooked bridge” project connecting Johor and Singapore, saying that Putrajaya can recover the money to be spent developing the project.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says Putrajaya can recover the money to be spent developing the "crooked bridge” project connecting Johor and Singapore.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says Putrajaya can recover the money to be spent developing the "crooked bridge” project connecting Johor and Singapore.

BANGKOK — Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday evening (Oct 25) sought to allay concerns surrounding the controversial “crooked bridge” project connecting Johor and Singapore, saying that Putrajaya can recover the money to be spent developing the project.

“We are not wasting anybody’s money, except that we are going to build (the bridge) because we can recover the money through various tolls and all that and it is a necessity to build another bridge," he said.

The crooked bridge project was first mooted by Dr Mahathir to replace the causeway when he was prime minister during the Barisan Nasional administration.

In 2003, just before ending his 22-year tenure as prime minister, Dr Mahathir announced that Malaysia would go ahead and build a crooked bridge – a six-lane S-shaped highway that would curve in such a way that it allows vessels to pass under it – if Singapore refused to demolish its half of the Causeway.

The project was later rejected by Mr Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after he became Prime Minister in 2003.

Last week, Johor Chief Minister Osman Sapian revived the proposal for a crooked bridge, noting that the project would help ease congestion into Singapore and reduce pollution in the Tebrau Straits.

However, Economic Affairs minister Azmin Ali said Mr Osman's suggestion was merely his personal remark and that Putrajaya had not received any proposal on the project, which like any other mega projects, is not a "priority" for the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.

Several PH ministers also said PH is also looking at the possibility of building a third link between Johor and Singapore.

Singapore, however, said it had not received any official proposal from Malaysia to construct a crooked bridge between the two countries. The Republic's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) also said neither has Singapore received any word on building a new link.

Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Ibrahim also weighed in on the matter, suggesting days later that Putrajaya should focus on improving healthcare in the state and proceed with the construction of a hospital in Pasir Gudang.

It was reported that the proposed 300-bed, RM500 million (S$165.6 million) hospital was approved under the 11th Malaysia Plan, with a 20.23ha plot of land in Jalan Gunung in the Bandar Seri Alam township identified as the site.

However, in May, the state government announced that it was among several projects being reviewed due to its high cost.

Dr Mahathir said on Thursday that it is the people and the government who will decide on the best use of the nation’s funds.

“Whether the fund is used well or not will be determined by the people, and their government. We don’t question other people making money for themselves. That is their right,” he said. AGENCIES

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