Malaysia’s PM, Mahathir Mohamad, is not happy with his country right now. He voiced displeasure with his country over the widespread rejection of his government’s initiative for a new national car in a blog post.
The tech savvy 92 year old typed: “I am told no one wants to see a second national car. It is enough that Proton is said to be a failure.”
Mahathir lamented what he described as his country-men’s ‘preference for foreign cars’. He noted that when the Japanese car industry initially came on board, its products were widely perceived to be inferior. But with the passage of time it is now known for world-class brands.
“Malaysians prefer to buy imported cars, including those from China. Their choice is Japanese cars and those with a lot of money (choose) German cars.”
“I remember Japanese cars right after the war. The consumers said if we scratch it with our nail, we can see (it is made out of) Milo tin,” he said.
“However from that ‘Milo tin’ car comes a variety of the Toyota, Nissan and Suzuki models that we use now.”
Mahathir stated that he had wanted the new national car project to be private-sector led.
“However, because we have rejected the suggestion of a (new) national car, we have already closed off all suggestions for the private-sector to produce motor cars,” he said.
He lamented that ‘jobs have been lost’ since the disappearance of Proton as a national car.
“There is no more national car. No more automotive industry. The workers, engineers, managers don’t have jobs anymore,” Dr Mahathir said.
Media reports noted the he did not refer to Perodua. Perodua is another Malaysia-rooted car company. It is partly owned by Japan’s Daihatsu.
The man credited with Malaysia’s rise as an economic ‘tiger’ in the 1990s lamented that: “Malaysia would become a country of consumers, paddy field planters and fishermen. Forget about Vision 2020.”
Mahathir had announced his government’s plans to work on a new national car for Malaysia last June.
- But in a major disappointment to him, many Malaysians did not respond enthusiastically to the announcement. For instance, when the story was posted on the official Facebook page of The Star Online, there were more than 1,000 comments.
Many suggested that the public transport system be improved instead. Others pointed out that the country had to ‘learn the lessons of Proton’.
Mahathir Mohamad had introduced Proton as Malaysia’s national car in his first stint as Prime Minister. The car brought pride, recognition and employment to the country. It symbolized Malaysia’s level of industrialization. Proton also captured 70% of the domestic market.
However, after he left office Proton was partly sold to a Chinese company. The sale displeased Mahathir. But since his return to the office of Prime Minister, he has made the introduction of a new national car a top priority.
It would appear that the dream is dead for now. But with Dr Mahathir, you can never really tell what will happen next.