Proton should have tied up with world-class carmakers YESTERDAY

 Proton City@ Tanjong Malim, Perak.

Media statement by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew on Sunday, November 12, 2006 in Petaling Jaya

In the past, we have been pressuring the Government to get Proton to quickly find a strong world class car maker as its partner or even do a merger if necessary. That’s because we believe Proton will collapse in the face of competition on its own strength.

I agree with the Second Minister of Finance Nor Mohamed Yakcop that Malaysia should adopt an open attitude on the Proton’s deal with Volkswagen and Peugeot. 

The minister has said that the Government will make a firm decision on a potential strategic tie-up between Proton and foreign car makers within three months.

It’s correct for the Government to do whatever it takes to make Proton viable before it’s too late. Malaysia have lost billions of ringgit in maintaining such an ailing project and we must stop the ‘bleeding” of valuable national resources on such an ill-conceived project the sooner the better.  

Proton is a mistake and we do not believe in holding on to a folly by calling it a “national pride”. Proton should have found a world class car maker as its partner yesterday. We cannot afford to see Proton goes down in disgrace and eventually cost the rice bowls of thousands of vendors, suppliers and workers of Proton. Yes, if we need to give them significant equity, we will give them significant equity. Because no car makers would want to take a minor share in such an unattractive brand like Proton. Only a controlling stake could allow car makers like VW or Peugeot to turn Proton around. Volkswagen is one of the pioneers in China’s robust car market today. It has tied up with the local car maker at the time when the market in
China was still relatively small. There’s something we could learn from the Chinese and our neighbours in the north.

Earlier, industry analysts had said that Proton needs to find a strong foreign partner to help revive its fortunes – it reported a RM58.6 million loss in its first quarter to June. The company’s market share has fallen steadily in recent years as the auto market has been liberalised to allow greater foreign competition. 

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