Government yet to rule out having local partners for Proton

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 27 Nov 2007

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government has not ruled out the possibility of local partners for Proton, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said. 

“We’ll have to decide later,” he said. 

Najib, who was at the launch of the Scomi’s new monorail, said the Government wanted to talk to the Proton management about the matter. 

On the national carmaker’s turnaround plan, he said the board had yet to formally present it to him. 

“They do have a plan,” he said. 

Earlier, after a ceremony for the delivery of three Dauphin AS 365N3 helicopters by Eurocopter to the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) in Petaling Jaya, he said market investors obviously expected an announcement of a strategic foreign partner for Proton, and when that did not happen they reacted negatively. 

The carmaker’s shares nose-dived by 92 sen or 18.6%, a seven-year low, the day after it was announced that Proton had shelved talks for a possible tie-up with Volkswagen AG last week. 

Proton shares, the second top loser yesterday, fell by another 22 sen to close at RM3.82. 

On whether the decision to discontinue the talks with Volkswagen was taken on the recommendation of Proton, Najib said the Government worked closely with the Proton management and Khazanah on the matter, adding “the board reports to Khazanah and Khazanah reports to the Government.” 

“The Government is also mindful of the fact that Proton is the national car company and it has to balance between business interests and the desire of the people to see the national car remaining in our hands,” he said. 

On the Dauphin multi-role helicopters, he said they would be used for maritime monitoring, search and rescue, as well as casualty evacuation. 

The purchase of the helicopters was part of a programme to develop the capabilities of the MMEA, which took over maritime search and rescue from the Marine Department in June last year. 

Najib said the agency had been allocated RM2.7bil for development under the Ninth Malaysia Plan. 

The Government also planned to buy three more medium-light helicopters for the MMEA, he said, adding that the three Dauphin helicopters cost RM145mil. 

He said effective preventive and security measures undertaken by littoral states, including Malaysia, at the Straits of Malacca had resulted in the Lloyd’s of London declassifying the waterway as a war-risk zone. Hence, shippers plying the Straits did not to have to pay premium insurance. 

Najib also said Malaysia welcomed Thailand’s announcement that it wanted to participate in the littoral states’ “eye in the sky” air surveillance programme at the Straits.  

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