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Thursday August 14, 2008 MYT 6:16:47 PM

Up to Proton to decide on partnership

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government will leave it to Proton to consider any proposal for foreign partnership.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the Government preferred to leave it to the national car maker to decide on any proposal for partnership as this was a business and management matter.

On a statement by automotive giant General Motors Corp (GM) that it was still interested in a collaboration with Proton, Abdullah said Proton could weigh for itself such a proposal if approached by any company.

"They can study it and then submit their views to the Government for consideration. I want Proton to make the consideration, not the Government making the decision and then asking Proton to accept it.

"I will leave it to Proton, honestly, because this is a business and management matter," he told reporters Thursday after launching the Federal Territory Hawkers and Petty Traders Congress 2008 here.

Abdullah also said that Proton had proven itself in its turnaround plan and had launched new models including the Persona, which had good sales and there were more models to come.

"I recently visited Proton and saw for myself the product of their research and development," he said, adding that Proton had worked hard to improve its performance.

"Proton is able to fulfil our hope for it as a competitive and successful national car maker," he added.

It was reported Thursday that GM said it was aware of the Government's statement that Proton needed a foreign partner and said GM was still open to talks.

Its South-East Asia operations president Steve Carlisle said GM had left on good terms but was disappointed that a deal could not be struck between the two companies the last time.

He said GM would be able to make a financial commitment for a collaboration with Proton if it made business sense now.

On the revised pump prices which would be announced Sept 1, Abdullah said that the declining world crude oil price gave good hope for the Government to reduce pump prices.

However, this would also depend on the level of reduction and whether the reduction continued steadily as the Government also had to consider the possibility of the world crude oil price fluctuating and increasing again.

"At the moment, the world crude oil price is reducing further and there is good hope for us to reduce our pump prices. How much, I cannot say. I really hope we will be at an advantage to reduce the prices," he said.

On why Malaysia had yet to reduce pump prices although other Asean countries had already done so, he said the Government had already set a formula whereby the prices would be revised every month based on the average price of the world crude oil price for the last month.

The fuel price would be announced at end of the month or start of each month. "The more the price of crude oil in the world market goes down, the better," he said.

Abdullah said the subsidy of 30sen per litre for diesel and petrol would be maintained despite lower fuel prices. Petrol prices were increased by 78sen to RM2.70 and diesel price by RM1 to RM2.58 per litre in June following the skyrocketing price of world crude oil.

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