Malaysia's Minister and Khaw Boon Wan

In less than a day, the Singapore government was embarrassed after announcing a train track bridge with Malaysia by end-2024. According to an interview with the Malaysian national papers, the Johor Sultan confirmed that the Singapore government will have to seek his approval first before commencing any works on the proposed bridge. This announcement was made shortly after the Singapore government trumpeted on state media about a cross-border MRT train service by end-2024.

The Sultan of Johor said no to the proposed bridge design and tells Singapore to come back with a new proposal:

“We are talking about a permanent fixture here. Go back to the drawing board and review the overall plan… Whatever (new plan) is presented to me, it will have to be logical, economical and sustainable for the benefit of not only Johoreans but all Malaysians and Singaporeans.”

The Sultan also slammed the design as impractical and he said he prefers a bridge at a lower height:

“The proposed curved design of the rail link and the elevated bridge is impractical, unsustainable and potentially costly… Why do we have to have a curved design when we can have a more practical design that is straighter and closer to the Causeway? Why do they need an elevated bridge with up to 30m air draft (clearance height from water to a vessel’s height) unless there are plans to remove the Causeway? The new design could be the same height as the Causeway or be slightly elevated.”

Singapore’s Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan is unavailable for comments. The Singapore ruling party government wanted the cross-border bridge to be a flagship achievement after several failing infrastructural developments like the increasing train disruptions. Unfortunately, the Singapore government did not approach the Sultan of Johor for approval and the project is unlikely to meet the end-2024 deadline.