Friday, June 19, 2009

Sultan of Johor rejects Najib's third bridge

Najib may have to drop third bridge idea
By Syed Jaymal Zahiid

KUALA LUMPUR, June 19 — Whether he likes it or not, the prime minister may have to drop the third bridge to Singapore idea simply because Johoreans don’t want it and that is all there is to it.

The Sultan of Johor rejected the idea yesterday after it was reported that he was not consulted on the project.

The rejection left Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was in Sarawak at the time, moving into damage control mode at a press conference where he told reporters that the third bridge was only at a conceptual stage and the Johor ruler would be consulted once a feasibility study is done.

Whether this is enough to placate the sultan is not known but if Najib believes he’s got it all sorted out, he may be wrong.

Many Umno leaders from the southern state have rallied behind their ruler on this issue. They believe that when the sultan rejected the third link, he was not only speaking for himself, but for the people of Johor.

“What was said by the sultan reflects the beliefs of his subjects,” Tenggara MP Datuk Halimah Mohd Sadique said in Parliament yesterday.

Backing her is Umno deputy youth president and Muar MP Datuk Razali Ibrahim who told The Malaysian Insider that the anti-third link sentiment among Johoreans has always been there.

“Many Johoreans don’t want the third bridge. This sentiment has been expressed through the sultan and the prime minister must heed it,” he said.

Among the issues linked to the third bridge is the possibility that the 12-year-old ban on the sale of sand to the republic may be lifted.

Johor Baru MP Datuk Syed Shahrir Samad said he agreed with the sultan, and reiterated his stand that the third bridge is unnecessary and that Johoreans will never agree with the lifting of the ban on sale of sand.

“Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said it was necessary to resolve all outstanding issues between us if we want to talk about the third bridge.

“This is typical of the Singapore government, I haven’t seen a shift in policy since there is no generational change in their leadership,” he said adding that Najib will have to think carefully about this matter.

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