JOHOR BARU - The state government will not harp on the Causeway and crooked bridge issues when arriving to any decisions pertaining to the construction of the Malaysia-Singapore Friendship Bridge.
This was because things had changed in the past 10 years and developments along the Johor Straits were unlike what it was a decade ago when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had just retired as the country's prime minister, said state Public Works, Rural and Regional Development Committee chairman Datuk Hasni Mohammad.
He said robust development had taken place along the Johor Straits, stretching from Danga Bay to Senibong, which had been earmarked as an international waterfront zone.
Hasni said with the zone, the state government would not only look at Singaporeans when making any decisions, but other nationalities, coming in droves into Iskandar Malaysia, such as the Chinese nationals and Middle Easterners, who owned properties there.
"We cannot simply ignore the presence of so many foreigners who are staying and investing in Iskandar Malaysia.
"As far as the construction of the Friendship Bridge is concerned, we have to look beyond the Causeway issue but (also) the interests of those staying along the zone," he told the New Straits Times.
Dr Mahathir told reporters on Wednesday that the Causeway had to be removed if the Friendship Bridge project was to go ahead.
Although the exact location of the bridge has yet to be finalised, he argued that there was no longer any need for a causeway if the bridge was built.
Using exactly the same argument he pointed out about a decade ago, Dr Mahathir had said the Causeway prevented water from flowing underneath and people from moving around.
The Friendship Bridge was proposed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak during a joint press conference with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after the annual Malaysia-Singapore Leaders' Retreat in Putrajaya on April 7.
The New Straits Times had reported that the Friendship Bridge would compliment the role of the existing Causeway and not replace it.
It was also reported the bridge may not necessarily be above water, but could be in the form of an underwater tunnel as the concept was to link the two countries.
Hasni said the Friendship Bridge should be iconic enough to reflect the friendship between the two countries.