Questions about the aborted bridge to replace the Causeway raised temperatures not only across the common Causeway but within Malaysians especially after former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad strongly criticised his appointed successor, Abdullah Badawi (Pak Lah) for scrapping the project.
To put the record straight, following are comments made by Malaysian politicians before the cancellation was announced. You be the judge.
" This is our right. Nobody can question or deny us this right as a sovereign nation. The Government is committed to building the bridge. "
This strong statement was made by none other than deputy prime minister Najib Tun Razak as reported by the New Straits Times (NST) on 18 March, 2006.
I would like to stress the following words uttered by Najib: "THE GOVERNMENT IS COMMITTED TO BUILDING THE BRIDGE."
Of course Singapore replied that it did not accept that Malaysia has a right to demolish its side of the Causeway uniterally and replace it with a half-bridge.
Bilateral negotiations on the bridge proposal (full straight bridge) were ongoing when the Malaysian government suddenly decided not to proceed. Singapore's position remained unchanged. The republic said there were huge financial costs and no significant benefits for Singapore to construct the full straight bridge. However, in the spirit of good neighbourliness, Singapore was prepared to consider Malaysia's proposal "if there is a balance of benefits for both sides." This statement was made by Singapore's Second Minister For Foreign Affairs Raymond Lim in the republic's Parliament on 3 April 2006.
Senior officials of both countries have met five times to discuss details of the balance of benefits such as the use of Malaysian air space by Singapore fighter jets and the sale of sand.
On 10 March 2006, deputy works minister Mohd Zin Mohamad said that Malaysia had "symbolically launched" construction works of the "scenic bridge" or half-bridge. On the following day, Najib was quoted as saying that Malaysia would proceed with the construction and on the same day, works minister Samy Vellu said that he had asked the contractor (Gerbang Selatan) to continue with the work without any disruption.
Will the real Najib Tun Razak please stand up.
What say you Samy Vellu? Mohd Zin?
I am ashamed to repeat what foreign minister Syed Hamid Albar said before and after the proposal was dropped. I am sorry to say that the son of the much respected "Lion of UMNO" is not even a lion cub but a kitten.