Geely partnership saves Proton jobs, says Najib

Najib Razak says Proton will reap benefits of Geely’s stake in European car-makers.

KUANTAN: Proton car-maker DRB Hicom’s decision to choose China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group as a strategic partner was apt in ensuring that Proton would be competitive locally and at the international level, said Prime Minister Najib Razak.

He said there was no intervention from the government in the matter, whereby the decision was made by the management of DRB Hicom and Proton based on Geely’s merit.

“Geely is highly advanced and has a huge research and development (R&D) fund of billions a year, apart from having large markets for its vehicles. In fact, the company is also the owner of (Sweden’s) Volvo brand. Besides that, 10% of the shares in Mercedes Benz is also owned by the Geely Group.

“Imagine the benefits when we become a strategic partner to a company that is strong and solid like that. It is not only with China alone, but also a multinational cooperation,” he said.

He said this in his speech at an event with the staff of DRB-Hicom and the launch of the Pekan People’s Housing project here today.

Najib said as the country’s prime minister, he was willing to put aside politics and provide funds for R&D, as well as easy loans to continue to safeguard the welfare of Proton employees.

He said the government never compromised on matters to do with Malaysia’s sovereignty, he said. However, it was Proton’s right to take Geely as a strategic partner. “If we play with emotional sentiments alone, but fail and suffer loses in business, then it is a mentality that brings no benefit to the country,’ he said.

Najib said the opposition’s threats to end contracts with Chinese companies would only be a loss to the country, if China reacted by ordering Geely to cease becoming a strategic partner to Proton.

DRB-Hicom and Proton workers at a risk of losing their jobs.

At the event, Najib, who is seeking re-election as Pekan MP, announceed plans for 500 PPR houses, at a cost of RM103.6 million.

“Each flat, measuring 700 sq ft cost RM207,382, but would be sold at RM35,000 only, meaning the buyers will receive government subsidy of RM172,382. “For those who can’t afford to buy, we have the rent-to-own scheme with payment of RM250 a month for 25 years,” he said.

The 2,500 DRB-Hicom staff applauded when he announced that company staff in Pekan would be given priority for ownership of 20% of the PPR homes, expected to be ready in two and a half years.

Najib also announced an allocation of RM30 million to cover an incentive payment of RM500 for all the 60,000 DRB-Hicom staff, that will be paid on April 30.