Dr M says no to third bridge, and no to unity talks
By Neville Spykerman
KUALA LUMPUR, June 19 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad added today to the growing chorus of criticisms against Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s proposed third bridge to Singapore. He also warned Umno against pursuing the so-called unity talks, in a sign that he is beginning to disapprove of some of Najib’s policies.
The former prime minister said it would be a bad idea to have a government comprising only Malays.
He also revived the idea of building a crooked bridge to replace the Malaysian half of the Causeway, since Singapore was not in favour of a new bridge to replace the structure.
“I think it’s better for the government to build the crooked bridge instead of third bridge,” he told reporters after attending a book launch today. He fears a third bridge would affect operations at the Pasir Gudang Port, adding that replacing the existing Causeway between Johor and Singapore would be more beneficial.
Besides reducing traffic congestion at the Causeway, he said it would allow the free movement of water which would make the straits cleaner.
Dr Mahathir also said that the new Customs, Immigrations and Quarantine (CIQ) complex at the Causeway was not operating at what should be the optimal level.
The CIQ was built to accommodate a new bridge which would have replaced the Causeway but the project was cancelled when Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was prime minister.
On the stand by the Johor Sultan, who also objected yesterday to a third bridge, Dr Mahathir said the “Sultan has his rights and so does the Federal Government”.
The cancellation of the the crooked bridge by Tun Abdullah was one of the significant reasons for the falling out between the two men.
Dr Mahathir eventually left Umno last year and only returned to the party this year when Najib replaced Abdullah as prime minister.
Since then he has refrained from openly criticising government policies.
Besides backing growing concerns that the construction of a third bridge would result in Johor having to lift its ban on the sale of sand to Singapore, Dr Mahathir also expressed his disapproval of the proposed unity talks between Umno and PAS.
He said a unity government with PAS could jeopardise Umno’s relationship with other Barisan National (BN) partners.
The former prime minister said the government needed to explain what their objective was and if they were willing to leave their ‘friends” to form a government which only comprised the Malays.
“I don’t the country wants a government which is 100 per cent Malay”
He said the government has always included non-Malays and cautioned there would be difficulties if non-Malays were excluded.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea”.