KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today announced that plans for the new link between the country and its neighbour Singapore was now back in the picture, and that the ‘Scenic Bridge’, named for its curved design that allows for large ships to pass below, was going to be three times the length, with a double loop. This announcement completely reversed, with a vengeance, the decision by his predecessor Tun Abdullah Badawi, who cancelled the construction of the bridge citing economic concerns.
The idea of the new bridge, also called ‘Crooked Bridge’ by some quarters, was originally mooted by Abdullah’s predecessor, former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamed, who saw the need to replace the 1.056km Causeway, which has linked Malaysia with the island republic for the last 85 years. The new bridge was also seen as an advantage for Malaysia’s ports in the state of Johore, as, since the Tebrau Strait would now be accessible by commercial ships plying the paths between Asia and the West, they would not have to travel further south to Singapore for a stopover.
The new bridge, a 3.4km triple-curve, double loop, split-level behemoth, is designed “with the original Crooked Bridge spirit in mind, only three times more spirited”, according to Najib.
“It was too good of a project to cancel in the first place,” said Najib at a Press Conference annoucing the latest decision in Putrajaya. “All the bilateral discussions we’ve had with Singapore, unresolved they may be, would have been wasted if we simply scrapped it. We put in a whole lot of effort, political energy and money into getting it started, so we might as well see it through. And I’m someone who likes to get a job done.”
When asked why the bridge was to be elongated three times the original design length, Najib said that it was to “increase the scenic value” of the structure, and “also to make up to the grand old man for cancelling it”.
“We’re talking about our national pride here,” said the PM. “We’re talking about Malaysia Boleh, and in that spirit, we want the biggest, longest, most impressive things, especially if we’re going to thumb our noses to those tight folks on the other side. They can keep their stupid causeway. Big deal.
“Well, we can’t call the bridge ‘Scenic’ if it’s just going to be a simple curve over the strait, can we? We want commuters to experience the real scenery, with more value for the toll they pay.”
The project has been awarded to the company originally contracted to build the bridge, Gerbang Perdana, at a budget of between RM10 billion to RM15 billion, depending on weather, economic climate and mood.
“Why settle for a simple Crooked Bridge when you can get it at three times the length at ten times the price?” he said, laughing as the bewildered Press nodded in agreement.
Singaporean officials, when contacted, refused to comment, with one official overheard only muttering a soft “Holy Crap.”
The project is set to start immediately, beginning with a study trip to all the countries in the world that have bridges, for a 200-strong Malaysian delegation of engineers, PM’s Department officials and their families.