Friday, January 2, 2009

Melaka wants RM37 billion bridge to Indonesia

MELAKA -- The government will take into consideration all aspects, including suitability and economic factors, on the proposal by the Melaka government to build a bridge across the Melaka Straits to link Malaysia and Indonesia. [Bernama, 23/12/08]

The Melaka state government is planning to revive a long forgotten proposal to construct the world's longest bridge; linking the ancient state to Indonesia's Sumatra island. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was responding to Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam (image) who urged the federal government to build the bridge during the opening of the 9th Malay World Islamic World Convention in Melaka.

Mohd Ali was adamant that such an undertaking could spur economic development on both sides of the bridge and also improve bilateral ties between Malaysia and Indonesia. Najib, however, did not dismiss the possibility of the proposed causeway being built over one of the world's busiest straits - a prospect which could leave Mohd Ali drooling in excitement.

If and when it is constructed, the proposed bridge would span 52km across the Strait of Malacca (Melaka); knocking off America's Lake Pontchartrain Causeway to second place as the world's longest bridge. The project has an estimated cost of RM37 billion but the Chief Minister did not mention whether our Indonesian neighbour would be willing to split the bill.

"I am suggesting that the Economic Planning Unit study the request for the bridge which could be funded through the Private Finance Initiative," he said in his speech at the convention. [Bernama, 23/12/08]
The idea of linking the tiny state of Melaka and Sumatra, Indonesia was first proposed in the early 1990's but was shelved following the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis which saw many Asian economies at the brink of total collapse.

Nonetheless, the 'brilliant' prospect of connecting the Malayan Peninsula and Sumatra may seem far-fetched. Najib was right to suggest that an in-depth study was required before any consideration is given to construct the bridge.

Due to its strategic location, one quarter of the world's traded goods pass through the Strait of Malacca every year. It is estimated that over 50,000 ships sail through the strait annually. Hence, a causeway cutting across the strait would inevitably disrupt shipping traffic and inflict adverse effect on trading activities. Sure, they may suggest a bascule bridge like London's Tower Bridge (image) that swings upwards to allow ships to pass through. But across 52km of water? No way.

The Strait of Malacca is also an international waterway; meaning no country, not Malaysia nor Indonesia has legal jurisdiction over it. Thus, building a bridge adjoining the two countries over international waters would require the bridge builder's to deal with both regional and international maritime policies.

However, the biggest concern lies not in the engineering or legal obstacles in the construction of Mohd's Ali dream bridge but his justifications for Melaka's need to have a bridge of that scale. Does Melaka really need the world's longest bridge across the world's busiest shipping lane?

Mohd Ali may not realise but Malaysia, along with the rest of the world are heading, if not already are in an economic slump. The proposed bridge would cost RM37 billion - an amount anyone with caveman mathematical skills could argue a better use for it. How about better schools and health care for the poor?

The Melaka Chief Minister suggested that the project could be funded by the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). There is reason to be cautious over that statement. The PFI is a controversial method of borrowing money, in which government projects are funded by private investors. The banks who fund PFI projects are repaid, including interests, from the money received from the government over a period of time. Therefore, one of the biggest setbacks of a PFI project is that it is in fact more expensive than a public financed project. The government would also see an increase in its spending liability in the coming years for paying out over PFI contracts.

A PFI project also lacks transparency and in Malaysia's case, the project to link Malaysia and Indonesia could well pose an excellent environment for corruption. This is because contracts issued under the PFI are off-balance sheet and does not show up as part of the national debt statistics.

A bridge across the Strait of Malacca may be a monumental feat of engineering and could, in theory, bring about economical benefits in the long term. But from what has been brought up so far, it seems unwise and impractical to spend all that kind of money just to make one man's dream come true.

One has to brace for the ultimate worst case scenario: Could Mohd Ali's super bridge eventually turn out to be a strait-crossing white elephant built to greet ships caught in a massive maritime traffic jam? You bet it could!

20 comments :

  1. vasantarao appalasamy said...

    Useless leader!
    when Malaysian are suffering with economy crisis, he is going to build a new bridge?
    Use that allocation to help people!

  2. Anonymous said...

    Useless and brainless Leader.

    Do you want ferry in more illegals and troubles?? Totally brainless!!! Look at the cost to be spent and the trouble caused to the strait traffic. Totally useless!!!Giant project ya? Mega project ya? More corruption for BN government. If even CM himself funds the bridge, RM37 billion, majority sound minded M'sian will not agree.....

  3. Anonymous said...

    Ridiculous ain't it? Will the bridge ease the illegal immigrants coming in as well?
    I'm not surprise, anything can happen in Malaysia.

    -Rmb the UEM-Renong reverse takeover?-

    Arch@ngel

  4. Anonymous said...

    a really stupid idea..

    cant believe what i just read .. words fail me..

  5. Anonymous said...

    Wahai ni Ketam!!Tak cukup ke hang basir duit orang Melaka?Rakyat sedang sengsara kerana economi buruk dan tiada pekerjaan tapi hang masih mau belanja 37 billion!Hang tau tak ni duit boleh membantu begitu ramai orang miskin!Ataupun hang ketam ni nak simpan 1 lagi isteri kat Pulau Batam atau kat Indonesia?Ketua macam ni...tak faham apa pasal rakyat Melaka masih mau sokong BN dan bagi ni hang ketam jadi CM!!Cukuplah Rakyat Melaka!!!Dah tiba masa untuk perubahan!!Tengoklah sendiri apa dah jadi dengan MElaka di bawah pentadbiran hang ketam ni!!

  6. Anonymous said...

    Hasn't this 'Sultan ALI RUSTAMAN' heard the tale of the PUTERI GUNUNG LEDANG, it is a tale of stupidity, where a ruler was lustfull for a great beauty, till he was willing to make a golden bridge to the gunung ledang. Here the simmilaraties are so astoundingly simillar, this is the lust for projecks for kronies, damn the rakyat if they have to maka rumut dengan kuah gulai tahi ayam, as long as Umno cronies start another mega billion ringgit projeck, to make money, SUCH LUST SULTAN ALI, SUCH LUST, don't you realise your state tressury coffers are empty, where there was money before are just rats droppings of your fellow thieves, 'SULTAN ALI BABA and his band of 40 thieves' at least the real Ali baba had a cave full of treasures, you MR minister of a bankrupt state must think we rakyat are either blind, stupid and deaf. You can't meet the paychecks of your state civil servants, without the help of federal funds to pay for daily functioning of the state machinary, ARE YOU MAD, ALI, Iraq had a chemical ali, NOw MALAYSIA HAS SULTAN Gila2 ALI.

  7. Anonymous said...

    I am speechless. Even if the economy is good..is this a project worth the money..Another Dr.M in the making?
    Elevate poverty in the country....let the future malaysian have a good future...for this man's whole life is not enough....
    God what kind of leaders we have in malaysia????

  8. Anonymous said...

    RM37 billion? How about paying my school fees too, oh government?

  9. Anonymous said...

    from now lets start calling him Sultan ALi al gunung ledang.

  10. Anonymous said...

    Sultan Ali....your deserted coastal road project has already killed off all the hotels along the stretch and guess what else....Malacca has no PANTAI....not even Klebang.....only last week you were begging bowl in hand to the Federal government which will soon be taken over by the PR for money to complete the semi-abandoned mess you call a highway.....out in the Kampongs ..your people are suffering.....many are bohsias or mat rempits ...or plain unemployed.....Malacca is indeed a bankrupt state......next in the menu would be the skip in the salary for state civil servants which will take place sometime late this year......this state financially is a goner.......if you want to kill it sooner....you need to only stop all Singapore cars from entering the state......

  11. Bangsa Cina Malaysia said...

    we are already having so much problem from illegal Indonesian immigrants and yet this fella
    is thinking of building a highway to make their entry into our country easier. what the....
    Please Pakatan Rakyat take over the Federal Govt quick........

  12. Anonymous said...

    We have had the world's tallest building, now we are going to have the world's longest bridge ! I think we should not stop here. We should also go all out to make the world's biggest Disneyland in Iskandar JB, the world's biggest car, the world's first multi-storey highway, the world's largest advertising billboard ever,.....at whatever the costs or consequences.Malaysia must dream big time to lead the world, right on MB

  13. Jefus said...

    there is a cheaper alternative, large ferries ( ever heard of it? :P

    and if the ferries are a huge hit, then maybe, maybe there is a chance of building a bridge.

    why spend stupendous money?......duuuuuuuuh....

  14. telur dua said...

    RM37b? Najib and Ali Rustam must be out of their bloody minds. An efficient ferry service is all it needs and at a fraction of the price tag.

    Of course, Ali Rustam would want it because he wants the credit at taxpayers expense.

    PFI = Privatisation. Because of all the lemons and white elephants, privatisation became a dirty word. So, the lame-duck PM coined PFI to con the rakyat. A pile of shit by any other name stinks just as bad.

  15. Anonymous said...

    What a grand idea! After completing the bridge, we can just drive to Indonesia to bring over the girls to work as prostitutes in Malaysia. Legalise prostitution then we won't have rape cases and can also be tourist attraction. Government will also have another source of income.
    I totally support building of the bridge if the above can be implemented.

  16. Anonymous said...

    Errr.. his dream bridge. He is just dreaming la.

  17. Anonymous said...

    A real coconut Chief Minister, like a spoilt brat child saying why can have bridge to Spore but not to Indonesia.
    Mr Coconut, tens of thousands of Malaysians work in Spore and bring in millions in foreign exchange.
    Mr Coconut cited some large volumes of Indonesian tourist to Melaka - they are largely foreign labor that passes through Melaka from Dumai and traveling to other neighbour States.
    You expect the Indonesian Tourist from Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan etc to first travel to Dumai just to take a bridge ride to Melaka?

  18. Anonymous said...

    That's it! We now have a leader whose head needs to be examined regularly. Not only the title of dato' was given to someone who has not contributed to country now he wants a brige to link between malaysia and indonesia. I wonder why our former prime minister did not thin of that

  19. Anonymous said...

    The strength of Melaka in the past was it's port which made the state the gateway to Malaysia. As technology advanced and ships became larger, the port was no longer effective and the deep port of Singapore became the dominant player. The bridge will make Melaka the gateway to Malaysia for 230 million people. Product and goods can now be transported via ground transports allowing faster and cheaper service. Goods can now be transported from China to Indonesia and back over the ground, by-passing the successful Singapore port. Over 1.4 trillion ringgit will be spent in the next 10 years. 36B to build a bridge that opens up commerce, trade, tourism, and development makes economic sense. To condemn a person who made the State of Melaka a "Developed" state according to the OECD is beyond me. "Developed State" means inflation went down, unemployment went down, GDP went up, mortality and crime rate went down over the last 10 years. These numbers are in respect to the ratio of the population. Remember, Malaysia as a country is not a member of OECD. There is a bigger picture and I hope everyone can work together to make great projects for Melaka happen.

  20. Anna said...

    hmmm very nice ,you have a very nice blog ,but if you add section to compare mobile it will be an awesome addition

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