Salleh tells Mahathir to get real about ‘another Proton’

Salleh-Said-Keruak-mahathir-mohamad-kereta-malaysia-1KUALA LUMPUR: A minister today advised Dr Mahathir Mohamad to be realistic about wanting to set up another national car manufacturing company, saying the former prime minister should look towards the future instead.

“We need to be realistic when it comes to the automative industry. The competition is really stiff.

“Proton’s tie-up with a foreign company will guarantee it can compete and withstand the coming challenges,” Salleh Said Keruak told reporters, referring to the deal between the national carmaker and Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (Geely).

The communications and multimedia minister was asked to comment on Mahathir’s statement last night in which he had expressed interest in setting up another national car manufacturing company if he could not get Proton back.

Mahathir, the chairman of opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan, said the new company would also help businesses that had suffered since Proton was sold to Geely.

“If I cannot get Proton, I have some ideas about starting another automotive company,” he said at a forum last night.

“Remembering, of course, that the idea to build another national car is because (like Proton) it can become a catalyst for the growth of our engineering know-how and capabilities.”

Salleh however said Proton had suffered a loss.

“We are still backing the local automative industry. So when there are investors who want to work with us without it affecting our national identity, there is no reason not to support this.”

On a separate matter, Salleh said he would consider a proposal by PAS Youth chief Muhammad Khalil Abdul Hadi for his father Abdul Hadi Awang to explain “Amanat Hadi”, his speech prior to the 1985 Memali tragedy, on national television.

Former inspector-general of police Rahim Noor was reported by The Malaysian Insight as saying that Hadi’s speech in 1981 had played a major role in influencing Ibrahim Libya to form a militant group to pursue their political struggle.

Salleh said he had not received any proposal to date, but that it would be considered if brought to his attention.