A friend made a boat trip off Tanjung Pengelih, Johor over the weekend and e-mailed the above picture of a sand barge crossing the Malaysian border into Singapore.
During his boat trip, he counted almost 30 barges passed through. The boat operator claimed some 100 sand barges cross the border from Johor daily. Obviously, sand needed for Singapore land reclamation plan is coming from Johor.
Tun Dr Mahathir has expressed this concern before. And he has repeated it many times that this does not serve Johor interest.
There was a dispute with Singapore when their reclamation of Pulau Tokong turned out to be a devious plan to push the Malaysian border. With sand from Johor, the Singaporean can stifle plan for allowing ships to pass through the Straits of Johor and connect our two ports by sea.
And the peanut cost of acquiring sand from Johor will earn for the Singaporeans billions from the new land. Johore had too often been made monkeys.
Is Dr Mahathir's call falling on deaf ear or Johor was suckered in another unknown lop-sided agreement with Singapore?
Looking at the above map from Google, Tanjung Pengelih sits near the southern most tip of Johor on it's eastern side at Pengerang, Johor. Sometimes Pengerang is claimed as southernmost part of mainland Asia with Tanjung Piai claimed as the tip.
Our friend is correct to claim those sand barges are meant for Singapore because his boat trip from Tanjung Pengelih is near the Malaysia-Singapore border. That sand could have come from further up river at Kota Tinggi where large desposit of sands can be found.
The can only be meant for Singapore's land reclamation. They have an expansive plan laid out. An extract of Wikipedia below:
Singapore consists of 63 islands, including the main island, widely known as Singapore Island but also as Pulau Ujong. There are two man-made connections to Johor, Malaysia: the Johor–Singapore Causeway in the north, and the Tuas Second Link in the west. Jurong Island, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin and Sentosa are the largest of Singapore's smaller islands. The highest natural point is Bukit Timah Hill at 166 m (545 ft).However, the land reclamation did not go to well with Malaysia.
There are ongoing land reclamation projects, which have increased Singapore's land area from 581.5 km2 (224.5 sq mi) in the 1960s to 704 km2 (272 sq mi) today; it may grow by another 100 km2 (40 sq mi) by 2030. Some projects involve merging smaller islands through land reclamation to form larger, more functional islands, as with Jurong Island. About 23% of Singapore's land area consists of forest and nature reserves. Urbanisation has eliminated most primary rainforest, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve being the only significant remaining forest. There are more than 300 parks and 4 nature reserves in Singapore. There are also many trees planted, and almost fifty per cent of the country is covered by greenery. Because of this, Singapore is also commonly known as the 'Garden City'.
Row brews over Singapore land reclamation near Malaysia borderDr Mahathir had never been happy with the export of sand or sometimes disguised in the documents as silica to Singapore.
Agence France Presse
March 5, 2002
MALAYSIA has expressed fears that a land reclamation project in neighbouring Singapore will obstruct its plan to become a regional shipping hub, reports said.
A preliminary report on the environmental and economic impact of the land reclamation programme in the Tebrau Strait separating the two countries would be released in cabinet Wednesday, said Land and Cooperative Development Minister Kasitah Gaddam.
Kasitah said work at certain stretches along the straits was "too close to the country's border and would certainly be a loss to Malaysia", adding that the narrowed sea lane would obstruct ships headed for ports in the southernmost Johor state.
"If this happens, ships going to the Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) may be forced to use Singapore waters," Kasitah was quoted as saying by the Sun daily.
The PTP, one of the largest ports in the world, rose as a viable alternative to Singapore after Evergreen Marine Corp. moved its Southeast Asian transit centre in January from the tiny republic to the Johor port.
Shipping industry players said Evergreen's shift, which followed a similar move last year by Danish global container line Maersk Sealand, had placed Malaysia as a worthy challenger to Singapore's position as one of the region's main container ports.
Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi said last month the land reclamation activities were getting closer to Malaysian borders.
"What they do within their borders is their affair. But what is important is they do not encroach into our territory," he said.
An editorial in the New Straits Times Tuesday quoted state authorities as saying the landfills at the narrow straits had been "cleverly designed to obstruct smooth operations of Tanjung Pelepas Port, which is seen as a viable alternative to Singapore."
"Although there is no encroachment upon our territorial water, the fact remains that the maritime boundary between the two nations would be altered," the paper said, warning of potential friction over the issue.
One should wonder if Singapore still have industries like glass manufacturing. Electronic industry do not need 100 barges a day of sand.
In his blog posting dated June 9, 2008, Dr Mahathir linked the failure in the so-called negotiation for the bridge to replace the causeway to a sand deal.
This bridge is very essential as the traffic in Johor Baru has increased and there is a permanent traffic jam caused by the North-South flow to and from the causeway and the East-West flow between the Eastern and Western parts of Johor Baru. An elevated road is needed to be built above the East-West traffic for access to and from the causeway. Such a road would result in a part of the Johor end of the causeway becoming useless as the elevated road must land some distance from where the causeway joins the mainland.Dr Mahathir had suspected something sandy going on since way back in 2006.
A full-length bridge to Singapore would enable a gradual rise for lorries to climb and boats to pass underneath after the causeway is removed. Since Singapore refused to jointly construct a straight bridge to replace the causeway, a bridge with 25 meters clearance for boats to pass has got to be long enough for lorries to make a gradual climb.
The answer was to lengthen the bridge by a curved design. As for the railway line a swing bridge can be opened or closed for ships or trains to pass through.
To cut a long story short work on the curved bridge was stopped so that Dato Seri Abdullah's Government could offer to sell 1 billion cubic metres of sand, and overflight rights for Singapore military aircraft over Johor Baru if Singapore agreed to a straight bridge.
Someone stood to make a lot of money selling 50 million cubic metres of sand per year for 20 years to Singapore for land reclamation. This was a very attractive offer as the reclaimed land can sell for 3,000-5,000 Singapore dollars (about RM6,000-RM10,000) per square metre. The Singapore Government stood to make an enormous amount of money selling this land.
They therefore agreed to the straight bridge. That dredging sand from the seabed would cause erosion of the coast, destruction of fish breeding grounds and deprive Johore fishermen of their livelihood were not of concern to the Government of Dato Seri Abdullah.
Fortunately the Johor people misbehaved.
They objected to selling sand and overflights.
Abdullah frustrated that his scheme was blocked then punished the Johore people by cancelling the bridge project altogether. No straight bridge, no curve bridge either.
The result is that more than RM1 billion have been wasted building the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) facilities, foundation and work on a new railway station, pilings and preliminary works on the road linking the CIQ to the bridge and compensations to the contractors because of the cancellation of the projects.
The CIQ building is now a white elephant, unused and yet have to be maintained costing hundreds of thousands of Ringgit a month.
Clearly Dato Seri Abdullah has wasted public money. All because he was angry with the Johor people for not enabling one billion cubic metres of sand to be sold to Singapore and the profits thereof.
Read this Utusan Malaysia report dated July 1st, 2006 here in which he dare the Government to reclassify the documents so that the then Foreign Minister, now Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar can revealed his proof. The Government dare not and Dr Mahathir stick to his story till today.
The current Sultan of Johor had asked that the bridge be rebuilt. See this Star report below:
Saturday June 26, 2010 MYT 2:42:17 PMThe murmurs among contractors and developers in Johor is that the pasir concession is controlled by one Tuan Haji Daeng Malik and close friend of Tuanku.
Johor Sultan: Consider reviving bridge project
JOHOR BARU The Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar has called on the government to reconsider reviving the bridge project to replace the Johor Causeway.
He said the causeway was very important to the people and the Johor sultanate since previous rulers had always been supportive of efforts to upgrade the causeway.
"Looking back, there is no doubt that the causeway is very important to the people.
"As such, the ancestors of my family since the late Sultan Ibrahim till my father, the late Sultan Iskandar had always been supportive of efforts to upgrade the causeway," he said when opening JB Sentral and launching the Kembara Mahkota Johor 2010 here Friday.
The proposal to build an S-shaped bridge, widely dubbed the 'crooked bridge', was mooted by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad but was scrapped by his successor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in 2006.
On JB Sentral, Sultan Ibrahim said he was confident that the people were delighted with the successful completion of JB Sentral although the main component of the complex, that is, a bridge had yet to be implemented.
He said the opening of JB Sentral was historic event as his late father, Sultan Iskandar had opened the Sultan Iskandar Building which housed the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex on Dec 1, 2008.
According to Sultan Ibrahim, he himself was involved in the Sultan Iskandar Building, JB Sentral and bridge projects, which were approved in 2003, by offering his views.
"When the government encountered a problem in finding a suitable site in Johor Baharu to relocate the residents of Lumba Kuda and Bukit Chagar flats, my late father gave permission for 27 acres of the Johor Sultanate land in Kampung Bakar Batu to be used to resettle the residents affected by the projects.
"This is an indication of the palace's support to enable the projects to get off the ground in the interests of the people," he said.
While commending the federal government and state governments for the successful completion of Sultan Iskandar Building and JB Sentral, Sultan Ibrahim also expressed his pleasure as both projects were completed on schedule by Bumiputera contractors from the state.
He hoped more government projects would be awarded to Bumiputera contractors from the state as they had proven their ability to develop mega projects.
Sultanah Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idris, Tunku Mahkota of Johor Tunku Ismail, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin and Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman were present.
In an immediate response, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said in Kuanatan Saturday that the government would look into the call to revive the bridge project to replace the Johor Causeway.
"We will look into it," he said when asked to comment on the Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar's call for the government to revisit its original plan to build the bridge.
Najib did not elaborate.
He had earlier opened the "Mengukuh Wadah Memperkasa Ummah" convention organised by the Malaysian Islamic Economic Development Foundation (YaPEIM), here.
With the much needed sand for development in Malaysia, particularly in Johor Baru exported to Singapore, it is causing shortage of sand and driving the price of sand up to the detriment of Johor. The state seriously need sand to develop southern Johor; from Iskandar Malaysia to Danga Bay and the upcoming Pengerang RAPID and Johor Baru Central Business District (CBD) development.
Why then is this large scale export of land still on-going? Is it possible that Daeng Malik is acting in co-hort with former Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to fulfill the 1 billion cubic meter sand deal claimed by Dr Mahathir?
Commentators in this blog here unfairly blamed Tuanku Sultan for Daeng's sand export to Singapore. How could they dare speculate such?
It does not jive with the Tuanku Sultan's call see the vision of his Almarhum father, Sultan Iskandar of the scenic bridge realised. The royal family went out of their way to give away their family land in the expensive CBD and helped affected retail traders move to an equally strategic business location and facility to enable the construction commenced.
Prime Minister, Dato Seri Mohd Najib is making his 'ground feeling' visit to Batu Pahat, Johor today. It would be a great gesture on his part to announce something for Johor.
If problematic states are being given and promised many goodies, there should be dividends and bonuses for Johorean's fuss free long-term investment and commitment in Barisan Nasional.
A bridge to replace the causeway should not be too far. It is a gesture that could appease those hundred of thousands of Johoreans, who wasted away their votes in 2008. It brings back a sense of pride to Johoreans.
The Sultan ancestors were duped by the British. Kuala Lumpur kept making Johore a victim of their poor negotiation with Singapore.
Najib should emphatise for he is Johorean from his mother side and spent a bit of time balik kampung to Wadi Hanna, Johor Baru. His grandson of arwah 'Dato Noh Beirut' or the late Tan Sri Haji Mohammad Noah bin Omar.
Do grandpa proud to show that descendents of Bugis warrior and nobleman can stand up to the Singaporeans.