The ding-dong arguments about the "hare-brained" half-bridge is spiteful and ignores important questions as to why the Republic of Singapore - which I assume is a sensible enough country - does not want a full-bridge replacing the current causeway linking Malaysia and Singapore.
Well, one does not have to look farther than the Singapore-window.org article at which says:
- Already the Port of Singapore in 2002 lost to (the Port of Tanjung) Pelepas its major customers - Taiwan's Evergreen Marine and Maersk Sealand, the world's largest shipping line - or about 20 percent of its transshipment business.
- The dispute over water is related to this rivalry over shipping, analysts say. "Ships need a huge amount of water ... Malaysia can supply them all the water they need and cheaply too," said a senior editor of a shipping weekly who declined to be named.
Well, that is a possible reason, but I believe a stronger reason is that Singapore fears that once the causeway is removed, Malaysia will be able to eventually deepen the seabed in the Tebrau Straits sufficiently to create a channel to allow ships to pass and draw more maritime traffic away from Singapore to Johor.
Both Singapore and Malaysia know that, but Singapore is merely being diplomatic by claiming nostalgia as its reason for opposing the proposed full-bridge, while Mahathir is merely being diplomatic by stating that if Malaysia doesn't build half a bridge, it will never get build a bridge at all due to Singapore's foot-dragging.
Well, Singapore can hardly be expected to contribute to the further loss of an important source of revenue and employment to its northern neighbour. And I am not gloating.
Since in January this year, my Singaporean cousin's son who works as an underwater inspector of ships was rather concerned that he would be retrenched if his employer lost its contract with the Port of Singapore Authority. However, luckily for him, he still has a job with a diving company in Singapore.
All I can say is, instead of competing with each other like this, being fellow Asean members, Singapore and Malaysia should cooperate and mutually benefit from opportunities provided by the Port of Tanjung Pelepas and the Port of Singapore, while at the same time enjoy the ecological, environmental and other benefits provided by the removal of the causeway and building of a full bridge.
Unfortunately though, mutually beneficial cooperation has not been Malaysia's and Singapore's forte.