In 2003, just before he resigned from his Malaysia Prime Minister’s position, Mahathir Mohamad wanted an overhead bridge to allow ship vessels to sail through the Johor Straits.
From an economic standpoint, if trading ships are allowed to sail pass the Johor Straits instead of making the usual roundabout at Tuas and Tanjong Pagar, Malaysia would easily take over Singapore as the busiest sea port in the world. Despite Singapore government’s propaganda claiming that the country has no natural resources, the country’s strategic location sitting in the middle of major sea trading routes is itself a competitive edge unparalleled by other countries of it’s size.
Allowing trading ships to bypass Singapore would reap billions in terms of economic benefits to Malaysia every year. Mahathir had the foresight to see it’s potential of uplifting Malaysia’s marine, trading and container port logistic sector.
Unfortunately, Mahathir was at the end of his premiership and his two subsequent successors – Abdullah Badawi and Najib Razak – eventually scrapped his idea. Much to the relief of Singapore.
Now that Mahathir is back on the leadership after an impressive election campaign, the Malaysian PM will likely bring back his idea to build an overhead bridge at the Johor Straits and dismantle the Causeway.
Aside from the bridge, there are more bad news for Singapore’s economy. When news of Najib Razak’s dictatorship spread to the world, Malaysia is now hailed as the newest progressive and democratic beacon of Southeast Asia. Immediately less than a week after winning the election, Mahathir Mohamad has ordered to investigate the former Attorney General Chambers, the Election Department, the corrupted officials and of course Najib Razak. The former dictatorship has been banned from leaving the country, after it was found he and his wife was about to leave for Indonesia in a private jet.
These anti-corruption efforts were swift and cheered upon over the world. Moreover, Mahathir also ordered to undo media censorship laws to improve media independence, and squash oppressive laws like the recent “fake news law” enacted by Najib Razak.
Foreign corporations and investors are now pumped with a shot of confidence that Malaysia has finally got rid of corruption and cronyism. The Malaysian ringgit is now perceived as undervalued. Malaysian professionals who have resided overseas – with over 450,000 in Singapore alone – are now looking to return to their country to contribute to their own nation-building.
Several Malaysia-Singapore links are now also expected to be reconsidered under the new administration, especially the profilic High Speed Rail and MRT line. The fact that Najib Razak and Lee Hsien Loong are close friends would definitely not help, as Mahathir has every intention to differentiate himself from the former corrupted regime.
Over in Singapore, the country continues to be plagued with nepotism, cronyism and legalised corruptions. Like Najib Razak, Lee Hsien Loong’s wife Ho Ching is under fire for overseas investment losses using CPF funds and the national reserves. Lee Hsien Loong himself is under severe criticisms for reckless spending over billion-dollar projects like Terminal 5, and raising taxes unnecessarily. At S$2.2 million a year, the world’s most expensive politician who called for the people to make sacrifices and pay more taxes, has no absolute intention to impose cost-control measures on million-dollar ministerial salaries.
Most Singaporeans were inspired by the Malaysians’ successful removal of dictatorship, but many are apprehensive and sceptical if Lee Hsien Loong can be removed in the next election. The ruling party PAP is unlikely to lose power but it is almost a certain they would lose more seats to the Opposition. The previous General Election of 2015 was an one-off freak election, with the ruling party winning by huge margins due to sympathy votes from the death of Lee Kuan Yew.
Singapore voters are also displeased that Lee Hsien Loong’s refusal to resign and his tardiness in choosing a successor. To further the discontentment, the likely successor, Chan Chun Sing, a former army general is seen as inexperienced, unreliable and unsuitable to lead as Singapore PM. Moreover, the new “4G” leadership is nowhere impressive due to inexperience and sheer incompetence.
With these uncertainties, the Singapore election is all the more unpredictable than Malaysia’s. However, what is certain would be the fact that if the Opposition takes power, Lee Hsien Loong, his former lawyer who is now Attorney General, his Election Department and his cronies are likely to face a similar fate as Najib Razak and his gang. While if the PAP continues to rule, Lee Hsien Loong will create a “Mentor Minister” or “Emeritus Senior Minister” position for himself, just so he can pull the strings from behind the scenes.