KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia should ask if it is venturing into an industry with comparative advantage when it considers manufacturing a third national car, says former Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz.
“We should channel resources to areas where we have the comparative advantage, where we have the leading edge and venture into the frontiers of that industry,” she said during a panel discussion on “The Economic Agenda – Mahathir-nomics 2.0” and “Vision 2020 Revisited” at the Youth Economic Forum 2018 yesterday.
Coming from a background as a regulator, she said that the government also has to look at the risk factors because there were no resources to bail out failed projects.
“That’s why this has to be thought out carefully,” said Dr Zeti, who is currently Permodalan Nasional Berhad group chairman.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had earlier said that the government wished to venture into a third national car project.
On why South Korea could do it and not Malaysia, Dr Zeti said that the country had identified a strategic direction for doing this.
“They took care of every aspect of it, from having it located in certain places, preparing the workforce in terms of educational system which started from the school and technical level and universities,” she said.
Khazanah Nasional Berhad director Dr Sukhdave Singh said that if the third national car project were to be taken up, it should be done only on one condition – those who propose the project must put their own money in it.
“There must be no government subsidies and no large-scale injection of tax payers’ money. If a third car project is commercially viable, private money goes into it, what is the problem?” he said.
EPF general manager Nurhisham Hussein said it was more important for the government to look at building digital highways than having a few more highways or a third national car.
He also said factories were located in various places – Proton in Tanjung Malim, Perodua in Rawang, Toyota in Shah Alam, Honda in Melaka, Mercedez Benz, Inokom, Mazda in Kulim, and BMW in Pekan.
“If we want to do it, we need to get everyone to be in one place and build the infrastructure and human capital,” he added.
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