We take note of the Prime Minister’s intention to embark on a second national car project. We understand that the underlying reason is to invest in heavy engineering capabilities, a field which the country needs to significantly improve on, in the effort to become a developed nation by the year 2020.

ONE wholeheartedly supports the rationale of the Prime Minister in embarking on this project. We understand that Proton is no longer fully owned by the nation and appreciate that rebuilding this industry will regain Malaysia’s pride as one of the few developing countries with expertise in automobile and heavy machinery.

Hence, we would like to call for the government to also explore the option of re-acquiring Proton’s stake that was sold to Geely as we believe that building upon a foundation that was already laid in the past would save us time and resources that were painstakingly deployed since 1985. Alternatively, providing support to a ready made entity such as Perodua may make more sense considering the circumstances.

At the same time, we urge the government to study this plan thoroughly and weigh against other more forward-looking industries to expand our heavy engineering capabilities. For instance, investing in high-tech public transportation is much more needed in the effort to become a developed nation. Knowledge transfer from constructing high tech public transportation too can expand our capabilities in heavy engineering.

In the past, the government has channelled to Proton RM15.3 billion in easy loans and grants to keep it afloat, at the expense of the rakyat.

We have no doubt about Tun Mahathir’s capabilities to turn around our automobile industry, given that Proton was a profitable, tax-paying entity under his previous premiership. However, we must consider that more cars on the road does not mean improvement to the quality of life. If embarking on a national car project again subjects itself to protectionist policies, it would mean that such a move will burden the people with higher cost of living from having to pay higher excise duties for foreign cars and high local car prices.

If the government has funds for a second national car project, perhaps it makes more sense to reallocate it for public transport systems, that needs a massive revamp. This we believe, is a priority. The quantity of cars on the road is not an indicator of an improvement to the quality of the life of Malaysians; it is seamless, reliable, and eco-friendly commuting which does.

As the saying goes, “a developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It is where the rich use public transportation”.

Azeem Abu Bakar
Secretary General

Alia Aishah
Exco Member