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Dr Mahathir (who I suspect would be a Minister Mentor in Malaysia had Lee Kuan Yew not thought of it first) on the Causeway replacement:

2. There has never been any agreement or treaty to say that the causeway is jointly owned. If at all 2/3rd of the causeway belong to Johore. And the 2/3rd must be the part which ends in Johore Bahru because the border on the Tebrau Straits is the deep water line which runs midway between Singapore and Johore. This must also be the border on the causeway. The northern half of the causeway therefore belong to Malaysia, a sovereign independent nation.

On the first level, Malaysia’s sovereignty is not exclusive in this matter – the Law of the Sea gives Singapore rights – and these rights are less questionable when you consider the crooked bridge would change the flow of the Tebrau Straits. On the second level, the Separation Agreement, which Malaysia forced upon Singapore, guarantees Singapore no interruption with regards to water – and though matter how brilliant Malaysian engineering is, ensuring this while cutting off more than half of the Causeway is impossible.

Lastly, based on the plans, the railway lines will be, for some time, cut off from the Malaysian mainland – allowing Singapore to retake the lands (like they did with the Jurong railway branch.

4. Why should we build a bridge to replace the causeway? That part of Johore Bahru where the traffic to and from the causeway meets the traffic going east and west in JB is often jammed. In future as more vehicles go on the roads the jam would certainly get worse.

Firstly. there is no significant difference on JB downtown traffic with having the crooked bridge and having flyovers and viaducts from the present Causeway to the customs and immigration building (you, the present, disastrous status quo). And then when you consider the cause of the jams itself, it becomes clear even if the lane capacity increases by, say, 10 times, the impact would be minimal: the bottlenecks will still be there. They are known as the Woodlands Checkpoint and the Iskandar CIQ.

6. Besides the traffic problem, the water in the straits is stagnant. If the causeway is opened up there would be constant flow of water in both direction, thus flushing out the water in the strait.

And here enters Malaysia’s pet environmental project. If this was a huge priority, why isn’t a low-rise bridge (that allows the flow of water, but not ships) suggested? Ah, but yes:

7. Without the causeway boats and yachts can sail in either direction. Transport of goods and people between Pasir Gudang Port to Tanjung Pelepas Port would be facilitated. This would be good for the growth of both ports – something which perhaps Singapore would not like to see.

Transfers between those two ports are quite seamless with the expressways connecting both ports with each other. But those poor yachts. We must invest in a multi-million dollar project that undermines our diplomatic relations to one of our largest trading partners so that those poor, poor yachts can avoid sailing around Singapore. And this is a perfect segway to Kaytee:

The unsubstantiated accusation against Singapore was that the Island State preferred to see the Causeway continuing to limit access from the Malacca Straits to the shores of southern Johore … perhaps for economic/commercial advantage. But I believe the reason would have been a question of “What’s in it for us?”

And here’s the blindingly obvious question, what’s wrong with asking that question? Its call quid pro quo. Malaysia refuses to budge on anything. Why should Singapore?

Back to our bridge story – well, the Sings are like those Japanese, economic animals. They don’t give a sh*t about neighbourliness, muhhibah or kamcheng. The question about Dr Mahathir’s bridge that they would ask themselves would have been, as I’ve mentioned, “What’s in it for us?”

Malaysian sand? Malayan railway land? Malaysian airspace (for its air force to train in)? Malaysian cabotage (removal of same for the benefit of SIA, Silk Air or Tiger Airline)?

When’s the last time Malaysia done something neighbourly to Singapore. For the sake of it. Take railway land for example – Malaysia agreed to move the railway station to Woodlands (with an interim station in Bukit Timah), freeing up a lot of prime land in land-scarce Singapore. Malaysia reneged. Very kamcheng no? And back to Dr M:

12. All these issues are in Singapore’s favour and not negotiating better terms because Johore people refuse to sell sand is like cutting one’s nose to spite one’s face. We are the losers. I think it is a very stupid way of punishing Singapore. Or is it the intention to punish Johore people for not agreeing to sell sand (somebody is bound to make a huge amount of money) and rejecting the honour of having Singapore warplanes practicing aerial combat and bombing over Johore.

I never understood why selling sand or allowing the RSAF to train over Johore airspace means that Malaysia is no longer sovereign. To hell with that. Take the most thorny issue of them all: airforce training. That and more gets done in Thailand, Brunei, Taiwan, and to a lesser extend, other countries like Australia. Are all those countries under the tutelage of Singapore?

The airspace bit is most important to Singapore. Nearly a quarter of Singapore’s territory is devoted to airforce training. Just acceding to Singapore training over the sparsely-populated, forested hinterland of Malaysia will not hurt anyone but a few jingoistic Malaysian sensibilities. Personally, I’d rather Southeast Asia’s strongest airforce protecting Malaysia than against Malaysia.

And lastly, I’ll take claims of “the Johore people are against this” with a few barrels-full of salt. Where is this referendum or even public opinion poll mentioned? And why should all of Johore’s opinion matter – only South Johore will be directly affected by this, and I think they’d rather better connectivity with our southern, richer neighbour than a few useless symbols of sovereignty.

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