Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed to explore a joint car development project and intensify collaboration to fight Europe’s unfair treatment against crude palm oil (CPO), says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The idea of joint development of a car between the two nations was mooted many years ago but had to be shelved due to specific reasons, Dr Mahathir said.
“We wish to revive the Indonesia-Malaysia car which would be meant for the Asean market,” he said at a press conference with Indonesian president President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo at Bogor Palace this afternoon.
Dr Mahathir had proposed to develop a national car after winning the election but his idea was met with strong objections from the public.
Proton car project which was mooted by Dr Mahathir more than 30 years ago, is now 49.9% owned by Chinese car maker Geely.
The government had stated it would not take any stake in Proton.
Recently, Dr Mahathir who was given the opportunity to test Proton’s soon to be launched Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) had endorsed the car.
The potential for a Kuala Lumpur-Jakarta joint developed car is huge considering Indonesia 261 million population and growing economy. Malaysians buys about 600,00 vehicles a year, making it one of the most dynamic markets in the region.
Dr Mahathir however, did not elaborate on the formula for the car development project.
When Jokowi was in Kuala Lumpur in February 2015, then 90-year-old Dr Mahathir had taken the Indonesian president on a three-lap test sprint at Proton’s track in Subang in the Proton Iriz at speeds reaching 180km/h.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian PM also said Jokowi and himself have agreed for a concerted and aggressive effort to fight rising threat of CPO export ban by European countries.
“We have to work together to fight their allegation that we are cutting trees for CPO. We need land for our people for them live.
“We have to also remember that they (European countries) had cut their trees and forest. But nobody objected to their actions,” he said, adding that when countries like Malaysia and Indonesia act in a similar manner, such countries are accused of damaging the environment.
“Their objections are more economic and financial instead of due to the environment,” he said, referring to competing seed oils produced by Western nations.”
Indonesia and Malaysia produce about 85% of the world’s CPO, generating billions of dollar in revenue and millions of jobs.
Meanwhile, Jokowi said he is honoured to welcome Dr Mahathir as the first country to be visited within South-East Asia region.
He and Dr Mahathir share the commitment towards enhancing matters related to the shared borders , well-being of Indonesians and their children in Malaysia and the threat against CPO.
There are almost 730,000 Indonesian workers in Malaysia as of the middle of last year.
Dr Mahathir and wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali were officially welcomed by Jokowi at Bogor Palace, about 58 kilometre south of Jakarta central business district this morning.
Dr Mahathir was honoured a 19-gun salute and inspection of guard at the grounds of the 270-year-old place surrounded by lush gardens.
PM Malaysia visit had received wide coverage from Indonesia’s local media. The Jakarta Post printed an editorial titled “Grandpa Mahathir is in town to exchange power secrets with Jokowi.”
Dr Mahathir arrived Thursday evening and met Malaysians at the embassy. He is on a two-day visit to Indonesia, his first state visit to a South-East Asian countriy since he was appointed as the country’s leader after the historic election victory last month.
Trades between both nations reached almost US$17 billion (RM68.51 billion) last year, making Indonesia Malaysia’s 7th-largest trading partner globally and the third-largest among Asean member countries.