What Politicians Are Saying About Tun Dr Mahathir's Plans For A New National Car Project

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad revealed his plans at a conference in Japan.

Cover image via Malaysia Dateline

Yesterday, 11 June, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad revealed that he aims to have a new national car company since Chinese automaker Geely has acquired a stake in Proton

At the 24th Future of Asia Conference organised by Nikkei in Japan, Mahathir explained that, "The national car must be owned by Malaysians," The Straits Times reported.

"I believe we have the capacity to produce good quality cars which are sellable throughout the world," he said, adding that a new national car would be in collaboration with Thailand, Japan, China, and South Korea.

Former Prime Minister Najib Razak has since chimed in, suggesting that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government proceed with public transportation projects instead of burdening the people with higher car prices

Image via REUTERS

Yesterday, 11 June, Najib explained in a Facebook post that, "In the long-run such measures to correct a legacy problem of the past will benefit the people to the tune of hundreds of billions of ringgit while providing more efficient, more cost-effective, less congested, and less polluting transportation options."

"Do not cancel such public transportation projects just because I started them and reverting to projects merely based on pride that will cause greater harm to the rakyat," he said, referring to the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) and Mass Rapid Transit Line 3 (MRT3) projects cancelled by the PH government last month.

However, the prime minister announced today at the Future of Asia conference that the HSR project has merely been "postponed," The Star reported.

According to MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, Proton costed Malaysians an estimated RM300 billion over the past few decades

Image via Liew Chin Tong

He said that Proton was only successful in the past due to "heavy protectionism" which drove up prices of non-national cars and Proton cars locally, The Star reported.

The Ayer Hitam MP said that, "Ensuring the success of a new national car company can only mean reverting to higher protectionism, which will result in higher car prices across the board."

UMNO Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin argued that starting a new national car project would be both harmful to the environment and unnecessarily costly

Image via Fourth Official

According to Free Malaysia Today, the Rembau MP said that, "Unless this project produces fully electric cars, I do not see the benefits to the people, economy and environment."

"A project like this will also burden the people with additional costs, through the excise duties amounting to 105%. This burdens users who wish to buy other brands of vehicles aside from the national car," he added.

Khairy suggested that the Cabinet fine-tune the proposal before proceeding with the project, emphasising a need for an upgraded public transport system and an e-hailing solution.

Meanwhile, PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah took to Twitter to comment on the contentious topic

Twitter user Arif Kamarudzaman asked the Permatang Pauh MP about the rationality behind the plan of rebooting the national car, instead of empowering existing public transportation to match those of developed nations.

Nurul Izzah responded saying that she is in full agreement with him and assured him that, "Our concerns will be duly noted by the powers that be."

Last month, these two public transport projects were scrapped in an effort to cut costs:

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