PETALING JAYA: Proton was “successful” in the past because of heavy protectionism, which drove up prices not only of non-national cars, but also Proton cars sold locally compared to those sold overseas, says MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.
“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.
“There were also many accusations that certain Proton suppliers were cronies who had benefited greatly by supplying low-quality parts at inflated prices,” Dr Wee, who is also Ayer Hitam MP, said in a statement yesterday.
He said it had been estimated that Proton ended up costing ordinary Malaysians up to RM300bil over the past decades from much higher car prices for all cars, as well as the correspondingly higher financing costs.
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, in a Facebook posting yesterday, said the Pakatan Harapan government should proceed with public transportation projects such as the High-Speed Rail (linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore) and Mass Rapid Transit 3 (MRT3) instead.
“During my time as prime minister, I made it a priority to gradually reduce car prices by a gradual reduction in taxes and by introducing incentives while expanding public transportation projects.
“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 a 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 revert to projects merely based on pride that will cause greater harm to the rakyat,” Najib said.
Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said unless it was a fully electric car, he did not see how a new national car company would benefit the people, economy and environment.
The Rembau MP said he hoped the Government would give priority to improving the public transport system such as working with the private sector to improve the last-mile connectivity such as e-hailing solutions.
Meanwhile, PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar believed the Government would consider the concerns voiced by the people.
“Am in full agreement with you and am sure our concerns will be duly noted by the powers-that-be,” the Permatang Pauh MP said in a tweet.
She was responding to Twitter user Arif Kamarudzaman, who asked about the rationale behind the plan to reboot the national car instead of empowering existing public transportation to match those of developed nations.
“Please reconsider,” he tweeted.
Former minister Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan also questioned the rationale behind a new national car, giving the example of Proton, which he said was costly to the economy and unfair to consumers.
He said that at one time, a 105% excise duty was slapped on cars.
The former minister in charge of the Economic Planning Unit added that the Malaysian market was too small for a national car and that the Barisan Nasional government had injected RM15.3bil into Proton since its inception in 1983.
Abdul Rahman also said the timing was not right to embark on a national policy like this as the present Government had been saying it was cash-strapped.