Anis Ibrahim & Syed Umar Ariff
The New Straits Times
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will re-start talks today with his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsein Loong on a suitable bridge to replace the 85 year-old Causeway. Najib, who arrived in Singapore this afternoon for a two-day official visit, said “whether it is a crooked bridge, a straight bridge, an underground (tunnel) or overhead (bridge), we will talk about it.
“We’ll see how the discussion goes,” he told reporters before leaving for Singapore via the Second Link crossing attending two official programmes in Nusajaya.
He is scheduled to meet Lee, President S. R. Nathan and former premier Goh Chok Tong tomorrow afternoon.
There have been growing calls from Johor’s political and business communities for the federal government to review its 2006 decision to cancel the RM600 million crooked bridge project.
They said the project would spur economic growth and provide various economic opportunities to the locals.
Meanwhile, The AFP, quoting an interview with Straits Times Singapore ahead of the visit, reported that Najib has plans to rise above the long-running quarrels that have undermined relations between the neighbours.
“It is incumbent upon our two governments to not allow some difficult — or if you like, thorny — bilateral issues to impede and hamper whatever progress we can achieve,” Najib said in an interview with the Singapore Straits Times.
“I hope that the relationship will continue to improve in the years to come.”
He told the daily that as well as the Iskandar project, which will be high on the agenda of his meeting with Singapore’s Lee, he would push for more cooperation on trade, tourism, security and defence.
Earlier, when speaking to journalists at Kota Iskandar here, Najib said he would also inform the republic the many opportunities available in Iskandar Malaysia.
“I have seen IM and that it is an exciting and promising development to consider, whether they want to invest at the strategic level or for individuals who want to purchase houses or properties.”
He was earlier taken on a helicopter tour of the development region and was briefed on IM’s progress as well the status of current investments and Ninth Malaysia Plan projects within the economic region.
He said being an area of tremendous potential, IM would become a region worthy of pride of all Malaysians.
“I am fully aware that development has proceeded according to schedule and that 30 per cent of the committed investments of RM42.63 billion has already been spent to carry out works.
“I reiterate the federal government’s pledge to continue focusing on IM and to proceed with plans initiated by (former prime minister) Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
“IM is an ideal development project because it is not purely physical development, it also places emphasis on enhancing the economic potential of locals,” he added.