Up to Proton to decide on chairman’s post, says MITI

By SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / Pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

The federal government said it is up to Proton Holdings Bhd to decide who will chair the company.

“It is up to the company to decide who is going to fill up the vacant position. We have no power to object to any decision,” International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said yesterday.

“As for the anxiety over a foreign candidate to helm the company, we have to come out of this ‘foreigners’ fixation and start looking forward.

“Many major Malaysian companies are helmed by international experts. We will be left out if we continue with this fixation (against foreigners),” he added.

Mustapa said this in response to various reports that Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd is in the middle of searching for a new candidate to chair the Proton board.

Geely VP Yang Xueliang was reported as saying that the Chinese carmaker is still looking to fill the currently vacant position and it does not limit the search to Chinese candidates.

Yang said Dongfeng Honda Engine Co Ltd director and executive vice GM Li Chunrong has expressed his intention to fill the position.

On June 23, Geely took over a 49.9% stake in Proton for RM460.3 million through a strategic partnership with DRB-Hicom Bhd.

The remaining 50.1% stake will still be held by the conglomerate.

Under the deal, Geely will be producing the right-hand drive models at Proton’s Tanjung Malim manufacturing plant. This will also open the door for Geely to enter the South-East Asian market.

Proton was granted the licence to manufacture, sell, market and distribute identified Geely platform vehicles under the Proton brand name in Malaysia for a period of five years.

The national carmaker also gained the right to manufacture and distribute Geely’s Boyue SUV, which would drive Proton’s sales volume particularly in the SUV segment.

The Proton-Geely partnership aims to produce 280,000 cars for the China-South East Asian markets.

Last week, MITI Minister II Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan announced that the first Proton car under the part- nership will be launched between late 2018 and early 2019.