KUALA LUMPUR: The government has received 14 proposals from the private sector on the proposed third national car project, the Dewan Rakyat was told on Wednesday.
Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming said the project would be fully driven by the private sector and the government would only give select assistance based on the capabilities of the company involved.
“I believe the suggestion to conduct an economic impact study for the project is acceptable and fair, but we need to get a clear direction first as we have yet to study the proposals given by the private companies and individuals on the project.
“The International Trade and Industry Ministry received 14 proposals from the private sector and individuals.
“In order to carry out the economic impact report, we have to get clarity first on the National Automotive Policy,” he said in reply to a supplementary question from Wong Chen (Pakatan Harapan-Subang) in Parliament.
Wong had asked the government when it would be able to produce an economic impact report on the third national car project.
To the initial question, Dr Ong said the government was in the midst of reviewing the National Automotive Policy.
“The last time the policy was reviewed was in 2014, and after four years we are reviewing it again.
“The review will be a holistic process, not only involving the third national car project but the industry as a whole,” he said.
Dr Ong added that the third national car project would further spur the country's capabilities in research and development as well as new technologies within the automotive sector.
He said it would also create a cluster of new technologies and expertise especially in automotive engineering.
“We welcome those who are interested to come forward to submit their proposals involving the third national car project by Oct 15.
“Several companies have come forward to show their interest in the project, but we will look into it,” he said.
On June 11, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad surprised Malaysians by announcing that the government plans to work on a new national car.
However, many Malaysians did not respond positively to the suggestion. Some asked that the public transport system be improved instead, while others pointed out that we had to learn the lessons of Proton.
On July 16 on his blog, Dr Mahathir sarcastically countered naysayers by writing, “Malaysians prefer to buy imported cars, including those from China.
“Their choice is Japanese cars and those with a lot of money (choose) German cars,” he had written then.
In August, in an interview with Malaysiakini, he said, “If you want to be a country of peasants, planting rice and catching fish, okay, we’ll do that for you.
“Don’t have any industries because industries sometimes lose money, you see? Let’s be padi farmers or fishermen. That’s all we can be.
“If you like, if that’s what you voted for, okay, we’ll do that,” the news portal quoted him as saying.