May 19, 2018
The leaders from the opposition (Barisan Nasional) here in Labuan might not be able to materialise their aspiration in building the bridge to link the island to the mainland of Sabah.
Present government under Pakatan Harapan (PH) led by the Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has recently disclosed that the country is having “horrid financial problem” as Bank Negara Malaysia has stated that the amount owed by the government to financial institutions is RM800 billion.
“But I also know there’s is a hidden figure that could be about RM1 trillion,” said Dr Mahathir.
He said solving issues pertaining the country’s debt would be his administration’s priority.
From his remarks on the national debt, it is unlikely that the bridge construction to link Labuan and the mainland of Sabah will turn into reality, as many other mega projects would be reviewed under the new PH government based on the current financial situation in this country.
One of the member in the Council of Elders, Prof Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram told that the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project is not favouring the rakyat, as the cost for the project is over RM60 billion where the burden will be borne by the rakyat through Goods and Services Tax (GST).
The debt to fund the project must be paid within 20 years where the rakyat will suffer within the period.
The review on ECRL project will apply on the other mega projects approved by the previous government including Labuan-Sabah Bridge.
Even though, there is a claim that the project has been approved in the cabinet, but it is during the former Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s administration under Barisan Nasional which is now ousted from power.
So there is no guarantee that the project will be continued under the present government elected by the rakyat.
Dr Mahathir in his visit to Labuan back in 2010 when asked if the bridge project was good to spur the economy in the island, he replied that Labuan should remain as an island in terms of its attraction for the visitors to come to here.
There are some pros and cons if the bridge is constructed, but the bridge is one of the options for the locals here for their convenience to get medical treatment at Kota Kinabalu.
For the fact, the call to build the bridge is intensified primarily due to the lack of medical facilities and specialists here in Labuan Hospital.
The people voiced out the need to have the bridge due to the current situation in the hospital.
But, the question is the people still need to travel to Kota Kinabalu even after the bridge is constructed where the poor will suffer the most as they need to pay for their transportation and accommodation if they do not have relatives in the city of Kota Kinabalu.
Therefore, the core problems must be tackled first, that is the medical services at Labuan Hospital.
Other facilities including the efficiency of roro ferry services here must also be given attention.
Instead of focusing on building the bridge, many other far important things must be developed here in this island.
Apart from improving the service quality in Labuan Hospital, the development of the youngsters’ intellectual here must be also prioritised.
A public library with its own building should be constructed just like in Sabah where each district in the state has its own building and most of them are big enough for the youngsters to spend their time for studying and reading.
The library will benefit all walks of life.
A long list of basic development here in this island is waiting to be given attention, which are far more vital than the bridge alone.
If you want to build the bridge as you want to be remembered by the future generation as the one who managed to build it. Just forget it as such intention would not benefit the people.
Moreover, such project will only cause troubles to the people in the island including in crime rate increase, as it will facilitate many bad things as well as the good ones.
Is the business and trade here will spur with the bridge construction in the long run?
The pros and cons of the bridge construction might not be elaborate further here as the natives of Labuan know what they truly want for their island in the future.