(File pix) DRB-Hicom still holds a majority of the shares to ensure that there is a continuation of the existing supply chain. This shows that it is serious in making Proton a success. With Geely-Volvo behind Proton now, it helps build confidence,” says Datuk Madani Sahari, Malaysia Automotive Institute chief executive officer.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government has not given up on Proton, and has, in fact, provided more assistance to the national carmaker in the last five years compared with before.

Datuk Madani Sahari, chief executive officer of the Malaysia Automotive Institute, an agency under the International Trade and Industry Ministry, said this in an exclusive interview with the New Straits Times.

“In the last 2½ years, the government has actually pumped in more than RM2 billion.

“So, if people are saying that the government is not helping Proton, it is not true. We have figures.”

He said it was unfair to criticise the deal between Proton and China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and liken it to “selling” the national carmaker to foreigners.

“We cannot continue to give (Proton) money. (Proton) needs to find a way to get out of its longstanding problem.

“All OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) in the world have partnerships, and no one is saying Volvo (which the Chinese carmaker bought over previously) is losing their dignity to Geely. This is a business decision.”

Maidani said the government had been encouraging Proton to find a partner since 2009.

“It was only of late, when Proton asked for financial assistance, that the government told Proton that they know they need a partner to move forward if they want to continue operations sustainably.

“We understand Proton has an agenda to help industrialise the country, but if it cannot sustain itself, how can it do that?”

He noted that Proton was ranked fourth in the Malaysian market.

“A company’s logo can change, but the name Proton remains. When DRB-Hicom changed Proton’s corporate image, did anybody say anything? Volvo is still Volvo even when its logo is changed.

“DRB-Hicom still holds a majority of the shares to ensure that there is a continuation of the existing supply chain. This shows that it is serious in making Proton a success.

“With Geely-Volvo behind Proton now, it helps build confidence. (Proton) has fallen to number four, beaten by Honda and Toyota.

“It is about time it becomes a legend,” he said, referring to the detailed agreement that will be signed between Geely and DRB-Hicom tomorrow.

Madani said in five years, when Proton penetrated Asean and international markets, people would start wondering where this “animal” came from.

“They will definitely say it’s Proton, and Proton is from Malaysia.”

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