Anti-graft group tells govt to come clean on third national car project

PETALING JAYA: An anti-graft group has warned that Malaysia’s third national car project would require a huge amount of government guaranteed debt, as the company awarded with the project does not have the necessary funds.

C4 also warned that this would mean the government will be forced to bear the company’s costs and liabilities should the project collapse.

“In the past, Proton has costs taxpayers billions of ringgits due to tariff protections and bailouts,” it said in a statement.

DreamEdge, a company based in Cyberjaya, will work with Japan’s Daihatsu Motors to develop the new national car, with mass production slated for 2031.

Putrajaya previously denied that the project would be funded by the government.

“DreamEdge would be the anchor who will lead it on a private-funding basis,” International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking had said in August.

The move was criticised by opposition leaders, who said a government company owns 10% of DreamEdge.

The company, VentureTech Sdn Bhd, is owned by Putrajaya’s Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT).

C4 said a check on MIGHT’s website showed that the project was a public-private partnership “to drive a new economic growth via sustainable knowledge and technology acquisition”.

It said Putrajaya at the coming budget must state whether a thorough cost-benefit analysis was conducted on the car project to ensure the government gets value for money.

It said the government should also state the cost of developing the third national car prototype, dipping into the government’s RM20 million research and development fund.

“If it is indeed a public-private partnership initiative, then pertinent funding data should be made public.

“The proliferation of mega projects in Malaysia are clearly a cause for concern for taxpayers especially with limited transparency which could lead to increase in the likelihood of corruption and undermine democratic accountability,” it added.

C4 also pointed to potential conflict of interest in the appointment of DreamEdge CEO Khairi Adri as a director in MIGHT

“This raises the question as to potential conflict of interest with Khairi Adri holding positions in both the companies, i.e. as the CEO of his private company which is leading this car project as well as a director of a government-linked company overseeing the funding of this car project,” it said.