Say No to National Car Project

August 5, 2018

Say No  to National Car Project

Image result for Mahathir and Proton

Instead of pushing for another national car project, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad should work on improving the public transportation system.


by Allen Tan

We now have a new government under Pakatan Harapan (PH) as the voters decided to remove the Barisan Nasional (BN) government after 61 years of rule. Many had placed their trust in Dr Mahathir Mohamad to bring about reforms in the country. But to their dismay, some of his ideas show that he intends to move back to the old ways. One of these is the idea for a third national car.

The first national car, Proton, has survived for over 30 years. But unfortunately, it bled billions of ringgit from the treasury.

Many Malaysians have heard “The Tale of Two Brothers”. The older brother was pampered and, at the end of the day, kept relying on his father. The younger brother, who was not given anything, put in his own efforts and emerged a successful man.

Image result for Proton and Perodua

These two brothers are like Proton and Perodua. Proton has no will to improve its image and quality. Its models have remained the same for many years. When new models come out, they are like copy-and-paste versions of earlier ones. Where is the innovation?

A generation of Malaysians have been forced to buy a protected national car which is not worth its price. Unqualified people were placed in top positions. When the government wanted to build a car industry, there was no political will to develop a good infrastructure for public transportation. The LRT and MRT were, in fact, 30 years too late. When more cars piled up on the roads, it became a nightmare for the people. Urban people who have to drive don’t live a good quality life. Every day, they waste many hours on the road. This has also hindered the country’s productivity.

Because public transportation is poor, the people are forced to buy cars. Mind you, driving a car in Malaysia will cost you toll. Let’s say a person earns RM3,000 a month. For him to buy a modest car that costs RM40,000, he would probably need to service a five-year loan.

I pity the young people who are fresh in the job market. Many have to service even nine-year loans on their cars. For an American, a modest car would cost US$8,000. If a person earns US$3,000 a month, he could probably settle the loan within a year.

Image result for Mahathir promotes ProTiga

So I urge Mahathir, please spare us further agony. It would take many years to build a heavy industry. We don’t need engineering prowess to make it as a developed nation. Singapore has no heavy industry but it is considered a first-world country today. This is because Singapore prefers brain power to automobiles.

Besides, to regulate the import of cars is against the global policy of promoting free trade. Don’t repeat “The Tale of Two Brothers”. The word “protectionism” should not be in PH’s vocabulary as it seeks to reform the country. Auto technology has already gone too far; it is too late for us to come up with a car that will impact the global market.

I hope that Mahathir will bring in experts to develop public transportation instead. City folk are suffering from a sleep deficit. They have to get up very early in order to beat the traffic. After finishing their work, they have to crawl home in long queues again. Not only is productivity hindered, family life is affected as well.

Allen Tan is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

8 thoughts on “Say No to National Car Project

  1. Any new national car must be an EV. The problem is the EV has two main challenge – the battery technology and the AI build into the car including autonomous driving. These two things, even established players cannot beat the high tech upstarts like Tesla and Google. Geeky who has Volvo program themselves may not survive in the end. A national project is not just behind in the curve. It may not even be in the race

  2. China, Shenzen the best example of Silicon valley with so many startups, especially on EV technology. We are left so far behind since PM Najib and PM Pak la. The car industry is just not about the failure of proton. If any, we should revive it back again differently and shape it towards a new era for the next generation. Thailand succeeded in the automotive industry. Vietnam is spending billions to build a car for BMW, underlicense. We can watch all our neighbors progress and advances in the next generation disruptive technology or we can embrace them for our future generations. This is certainly not about Tun M mistakes in his vision. We have trusted him once. We should give him another chance. Failure in his first attempt is a good wake up call to make amend and change the approach and the way of doing things. It is the methodology that needs to be examined carefully not the aims. The implementation must have the support of all government and public and private, institutions just like how the Thailand have done it.

    • /// This is certainly not about Tun M mistakes in his vision. We have trusted him once. We should give him another chance. Failure in his first attempt is a good wake up call to make amend and change the approach and the way of doing things. It is the methodology that needs to be examined carefully not the aims. ///

      Wrong, wrong and wrong.

      It is certainly about Tun M’s fixation with a “national” car. It was a mistake and it will still be a mistake.

      You were fooled once – you want another chance to be fooled again?

      The fact is that Malaysia does not have the competitive advantage in the car industry. It does not have a sizeable market. It does not have the technology. Who wants to buy copied version of Japanese cars, or hand-me-down old version technology?

      Yes, try a different approach and methodology. Thailand succeeded because it is more a car assembly industry there than starting a car from scratch. Singapore used to assemble cars, but gave that up long ago as it realized it had no value add.

      “Insanity Is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results” – supposed by Einstein.

  3. Has anyone noticed the Proton is now not the same as the first ori Saga. Compare a european car with the Proton, you would notice the wiper and turn indicator stalks are of the same configuration (unlike the perodua or any Japanese car). This is very important issue which i would write about in a journal shortly.

  4. The financial order governs the social order. Build a strong, sustainable and stable economy and you will have all the options you need to take this blessed nation forward.

  5. If you blame others you have a long way to go.
    If you blame yourself you are half way there.
    If you blame no one you have arrived.
    I wonder who said these wise words.

  6. Tun M is still deep cleaning not one swamp but many swamps left by the previous government. The least he can do to those who helped him, and in return, got his help to remove the pre-eminent swamp maker, is to avoid building another swamp himself.

    Vanity should not obscure good sense as it must be pretty obvious to him that the internal combustion engine is burning itself out faster than he is prepared to admit; it will be history sooner rather than later. I find this proposal for a new start-up quite paradoxical in light of his sensible rejection of HSR for all the reasons of costs, returns on investment, etc. HSR seems to hint, to me, that it too risks becoming the next giant swamp.

    It is one thing to voice our need for soft loans to pare down debts, it is quite another to follow up on our request for earnest aid from an ally by announcing loudly the launch of another grandiose, ego-boosting project.

    Tun Mahathir should have nothing to do with anything that reeks of the odour of a swamp. Just concentrate on honest delivery of everything that is connected with good governance, national welfare and development in every sense of the word.

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