KUALA LUMPUR, April 12 (Bernama) -- The government has decided to stop the construction of the bridge to replace the Johor Causeway that links Malaysia and Singapore, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced Wednesday.
He said the government had also decided to stop all negotiations pertaining to the bridge. Construction of the bridge, also known as the "scenic bridge" began early this year, to replace half of the Johor Causeway on the Malaysian side.
"The government's decision was made after taking into account the voices and sentiments of the Malaysian people as a whole especially on the supply of sand and air space," he said in a one-paragraph statement.
The construction of the bridge across the Johor Strait to replace the 80-year old Johor Causeway drew objections from Singapore which had sent several protest notes to the Malaysian government.
Malaysia however decided to pursue with the plan to build the bridge in its own area when discussions between the two governments prolonged without reaching any agreement.
Singapore's initial excuse was that it wanted to maintain the Johor Causeway which had historical values and did not believe that the project would benefit the republic.
When Malaysia unilaterally went ahead with the project, Singapore warned that the construction of the bridge would have "serious implications", without elaborating.
For Malaysia, the bridge could reduce the traffic congestion at the Johor Causeway, benefiting citizens from both sides of the causeway, besides raising the Johor Strait's quality of water, which had been obstructed by the Johor Causeway. The bridge would also help improve the ecology system in the Johor Strait.
Malaysia went ahead with the project with the hope that the ongoing negotiations between the two governments would result in Singapore agreeing to build its side of the project.
However, Singapore's Second Foreign Minister Raymond Lim told its Parliament early this month that the republic could not accept the fact that Malaysia had the right to make its own decision to build half of the bridge.
In talks held between the two governments, Singapore among others, had asked for Malaysia's permission to allow its jetfighters to use the Malaysian airspace and in return, Malaysia supplies sand to the republic.
Singapore's request drew criticisms from Malaysians, especially the people of Johor who regarded it as outrageous, and agreeing with its request is like sacrificing the national sovereignty.