Sultan Johor: No third bridge!

The recent proposal of the third bridge crossing the Johor Straits on the east coast of Johor linking Penggerang to Changi has been vehemently rejected by HRH Sultan Johor. HRH Tuanku Sultan Iskandar Al Haj Ibni Almarhum Sultan Ismail’s titah was delivered by HRH Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ibrahim Ismail Ibni Sultan Iskandar at the opening of the new term in Johor State Assembly, at their new ‘home’ in newly dedicated Kota Iskandar.

 NST has the story:


Johor Sultan opposes third bridge

Umar Ariff and Chuah Bee Kim



The Sultan of Johor, Sultan Iskandar has expressed his opposition to the proposed third bridge linking Johor and Singapore.


Sultan Iskandar’s message was delivered by his son, Tunku Mahkota of Johor, Tunku Ibrahim Ismail who read his speech at the opening of the State Assembly in Kota Iskandar, Nusajaya today.

“I am instructed by His Royal Highness to convey a message that he did not agree with the proposal for a third bridge,” said Tunku Ibrahim after he finished reading the prepared speech.

Tunku Ibrahim, however, did not eleborate further on the Sultan’s stand on the matter.

The proposed third bridge, linking Pengerang in Kota Tinggi and Changi, in Singapore is among the key bilateral issues discussed between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong during Najib’s official visit to the republic last month.

It is aimed at complementing future development in the less-developed Pengerang and Desaru areas.

Sultan Iskandar had earlier arrived at Kota Iskandar to open the State Assembly.

After inspecting the guard of honor, Sultan Iskandar headed to his room at the State Assembly Hall building to rest.

Sultan Iskandar, who was scheduled to deliver the opening royal address, however left before the session started, and his speech was later read by the Tunku Mahkota.

Also present was Sultan Iskandar’s grandson, the Raja Muda of Johor, Tunku Ismail Ibrahim.

This is the first time the State Assembly is held in Kota Iskandar since the State administrative centre was moved from Bukit Timbalan in March.

In his speech, Sultan Iskandar hoped that unity among the people should be maintained to ensure they lead a joyous life.

“All of us are grateful that peace prevails in Johor. This can only continue should the rakyat held steadfast to the constitution,” he said.

Sultan Iskandar said although there were economic problems at present, the people need to be confident that the State’s economy has strong foundations.

He said the people should welcome government’s efforts in building a developed economy.

“With that, I am confident that Johor will continue to excel in all fields that benefit the rakyat.”

Meanwhile, Datuk Harun Abdullah, whose Tanjung Surat constituency is in Pengerang expressed his support for Sultan Iskandar’s objection to the third bridge plan.

He said the Sultan of Johor’s wisdom on issues affecting the State has always been for the good of Johoreans.

“I concur with Tuanku on this. I believe he has the wisdom is dealing with the issue,” he said when met after the State Assembly session which was adjourned until Monday



It seems that PM Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak’s attempt to have the third bridge proposal ready for a thorough review, announced during his recent visit to Singapore as a ‘deflection’ to unresolved issues has blown right into the face.

PM Dato’ Seri Najib should use his first opportunity in meeting Brig. Gen. (NS) Lee Hsien Loong in setting the agenda and timeline to resolve long outstanding issues such as the water agreement, Malaysian CPF, KTMB land and of course, newer ones such as the bridge-replacing-the-Johor-Causeway.

During delivering his titah at the launching of Iskandar Development Region (previously known as South Johor Economic Region) in November 2006, HRH Sultan Iskandar broke protocol to ask the Government to remove the Johor Causeway.

Buang tambak tu. Bior air lalu. Dulu atuk aku kena tipu dengan orang putih!” (Get rid of the Causeay. Let the water flow. My late grandfather was deceived by the British), televised live on national TV. HRH Tuanku Sultan also said SJER should not be named after him but instead singled out Dato’ Rahman Andak, as the father of modern Johor and tried very hard to stop the influence of British into the prosperous state.

Present amongst others was Prime Minister ‘Flip-Flop’ Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who abruptly cancelled the Scenic Bridge project and gave the reason that the Johoreans do not want the sale of sand to Singapore. Apparently, Singapore under Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong did not object for the construction of the bridge (as of  22 April 2002 letter), hence the Gerbang Selatan project was initiated and commenced. Later, for unclear reasons, the issue about the bridge was brought into the bilateral talks and items such as the sale of sand to Singapore and the use of SAF military aircraft in Johorean airspace were unexpectedly appearing in the negotiations. These new items were vehenemently rejected by the Johoreans. As such, ill advised PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah used the excuse of Johoreans rejecting the sale of sand and SAF using Joho airspace to cancel the bridge instead of addressing all unresolved issues at hand and not agreeing into these new conditions attached to the negotiations.






The idea of the third bridge is really baffling. It served no real purpose in terms of benefits derived, especially from economic and political standpoint. In fact, it is detrimental to the South Johor economy. Port of  Johor in Pasir Gudang and newly dedicated Johor Corp developed of Port of Tanjong Pelepas are focused on oil and gas industry. With the third bridge build on the tip of the east Johor, a lot of activities within the hub of oil and gas industry are gravely impaired. Thus, it will a major loss of deeplyrooted companies like Sime Darby Engineering, MMHE, Titan and Ramunia, which fabricate and service oil and gas platforms in the region.

If the argument of developing the socio-economy of the east of coast of Johor, then it is lame to have a third bridge for that. Not too long ago, Ranhill Bhd. was given the concession to build a dedicated highway from Senai to Desaru due to commence shortly, exactly for that purpose but for a lot less money.

Until recently, the Johor State Government was developing the local maritime industry on the east coast of Johor to Changi. Example was Sebana resort, along the estuary of the Johor river. Then the introduction of ferry services from Belungkor in Kota Tinggi to Changi Point, where cars were also transported both ways. This service could be extended to the Riau islands such as Batam. However, the Ministry of Transport gave the right to Star Cruise to operate on the same route that foused on the ‘cruise to nowhere’ services such as gambling, in international waters. This inadvertently killed the highly potential ferry service.  In this case, the weakness of intra-departmental/minsitry communications and objectives made it strategically advantagous for the Singaporeans to capitalise.

It is very apparent that Malaysia constantly being short-changed when we deal with Singapore. HRH Sultan Johor’s message is clear that Malaysia has to defend its own interests and stick to the original agenda and not deviate into the whims and fancies of these arrogant ‘bananas’ (yellow on the outside, white on the inside – reflecting their true self as agents of the West).

Published in: on June 18, 2009 at 14:21  Comments (22)  

Tun Dr. Mahathir: The importance of proper survey to determine borders






ON 18TH JUNE 2009




1.         I would like to thank Institution of Surveyors Malaysia for the invitation to this 11th International Surveyors Congress.

 2.         When I was invited to speak at the 11th International Surveyors’ Congress 2009, I was reminded that I am an Honorary member of your esteemed institution.  I was made to understand that I have to pay my dues.  Well, I will.  But as an old man and a Malay, I forget easily.  I am now about to forget to pay my dues again.

 3.         I am of course a surveyor of sorts because very often when I was the Prime Minister I thought I was the lord of all I surveyed.   But now no more.  I suspect others in power consider that they are the Lord.  They would be doing the surveying.

 4.         It is a fascinating profession, surveying.  The surveyors determine the limit of our fiefdom.  Long ago the Malay States had no surveyors, qualified ones, that is.  And so the Malay Sultans of old did not quite know the boundaries of their fiefdom.  Because they didn’t, they lost much of their land to neighbours.

 5.         We only realize this now when we find the people living across our borders are Malays who speak the Malay language with Kedah accent and practice Malay customs and traditions.   But of course it is too late to bring in professional surveyors to stake out our old borders.  We would not do that because we want to live in peace and friendship with our neighbours.  In other parts of the world endless wars are fought because of the borders not being delineated and agreed to by neighbours.

 6.         When the British acquired Penang and Province Wellesley the boundaries were not properly surveyed.  Actually, the Sultan of Kedah did not know where the boundary between Kedah and Perak was.  Since the surveyor and cartographers were in the employment of the British Colonial Government in Penang, the border between the Southern Province Wellesley was shifted with Kedah losing some land.  But that was not a big issue.  Land was cheap.  Kedah did not lose much money.  But today in Ringgit terms what was lost was quite considerable.  Even tiny rocks in the sea are valuable.

 7.         But the British did a good job of surveying the land and they employed surveyors who demarcated the boundaries between the lots granted to individuals in all the Malay states.  It is amazing how detailed and accurate were the boundary marks.  Every lot, big or small or tiny even would be drawn on land grant document in the name of the owner.  The grants are impressive.  They not only register the names of the owners but have plans which show the boundary stones clearly as well as those of the neighbour’s holdings.  The owner thus feels confident that his ownership of the land is clearly demarcated and would stand any challenge in a court of law.

 8.         I had great faith in the system and the clarity of the positions of the boundary stones and the lines connecting them.  I thought that every surveyor would draw correctly the boundaries of the survey.

 9.         But now I am not so sure.  I had decided to build a fence between my land and that of my neighbour in Titi Gajah, Alor Star.  In order that I could go outside my fence when clearing the grass and the creepers without actually encroaching on my neighbours, I decided to build the fence about 1 ½ foot inside my land.  The boundary stone were therefore outside the fence.

 10.       For some reason my land had to be resurveyed.  Instead of drawing the boundary by drawing a straight line joining the boundary stones, the surveyor took my fence as the boundary for the new drawing.

 11.       I only realized this after I received the new grant.  By then it was too late.  I had lost quite a bit of my land and the neighbour quickly planted bushes right up to my fence.

 12.       Subsequently when I was Prime Minister it was decided that we must build a fence at the border with Thailand.  There was a lot of smuggling going on and the smugglers had built huge stores to hold contraband goods on the Thai side.

 13.       The border had been demarcated and the boundary stones were in place.  But there were earth roads crossing at a number of points on the border and lorries were carrying contraband items into Malaysia and into Thailand.

 14.       There were border guards but somehow they were not able to put a stop to the smuggling.  So a high fence covered with barb wire might prevent the smugglers’ lorry from getting across.

 15.       Again I decided that the fence be built within Malaysia, about two meters from the border.  It would enable our border patrol to inspect the fence from outside and also the border stones.  If we have to arrest the smugglers it would be within our territory.  But this time I was determined that the real borders would remain and not be shifted along the lines of the fence.  I was not going to lose Malaysian land with this exercise.

 16.       Building the fence was a good investment because the Malaysian customs were able later to collect more import taxes than the cost of building the fence.  But we had to maintain border guards to patrol the road running alongside the fence on the Malaysian side.  Even the cost to this border patrol was covered by the extra income from taxing goods which otherwise would have been smuggled.

 17.       Surveys to demarcate the borders had been carried out with Indonesia and Thailand.  It was a tedious process as both countries had to verify the location of the border markers.

 18.       For the most part it was easy to agree as to the line forming our borders.  But because the surveys were long delayed, the neighbours had encroached on Malaysian territory.

 19.       In Perak the Thais had actually developed rubber plantations in Malaysian territory claiming the land was part of Thailand.  It was difficult to settle this problem as the planters demanded to be paid compensation.

 20.       In Kelantan the border is represented by the bed of a small stream.  Unfortunately the river bed shifts when it rained.  I don’t know whether agreement has been reached between Thailand and Malaysia.

 21.       There is also an overlapping area of sea off the East Coast where the land border between Kelantan and Thailand meets the sea.  Tun Hussein solved this by agreeing on joint development – perhaps a unique way for settling border disputes.

 22.       The border between Indonesia and Malaysia involves Sarawak and Sabah.  We are still having problems especially offshore.  It is the same with Brunei.  I am afraid our people are not good at negotiations and I think we lost a lot.

 23.       Among the first thing I settled with Lee Kuan Yew when I met him after I became Prime Minister was the border between Singapore and Malaysia in the Tebrau Strait.  It was agreed that the deepest trench in the strait would be taken as the maritime border.  Once surveyed and marked it should be regarded as the permanent border.  Reclamations may cause the deepest points to shift but the border would remain.  It turned out that the deepest points were about midway between Singapore and Johore.  This was also regarded as the border on the causeway.  The northern half of the causeway workers is therefore Malaysian’s. 

 24.       It is not so easy with the concept of continental shelf.  Yet because of the possibility of finding oil the demarcation of the continental shelf is very important.  We are still faced with conflicting claims with neighbouring countries.

 25.       My experience with surveying and surveyors is as you can see limited mostly to determining the borders of our country.  Surveyors play a very important role in this matter. 

 26.       Today many new equipment and instruments have been invented to make surveying more precise.  I am sure that one day you will be surveying from outer space.  Already we have Google Maps.  In time I am sure all our maps will be through this frightening new technology.  The surveyors’ theodolite may get out of date.

 27.       Now I take great pleasure in declaring the 11th International Surveyor’s Congress Open.




Published in: on June 18, 2009 at 10:58  Comments (1)