Govt reviews NAP, imported vehicles

Govt welcomes any suggestion relating to the new national car project, including collaborations with other countries

By P PREM KUMAR & DASHVEENJIT KAUR

The government is currently reviewing the National Automotive Policy (NAP) and import of foreign vehicles into the country to ensure the growth of the local automotive industry.

Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the review on NAP would focus on issues relating to the development of the local automotive industry, which include any adverse effect by imported vehicles.

“The study will also include discussions on how to prosper the development of local companies, research and development activities and move to improve export activities.

“The government also welcomes any suggestion relating to the implementation of the new national car project, including collaborations with other countries,” he told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Dr Mahathir was responding to MP Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong (BN-Ayer Hitam) who asked the government to elaborate on the new national car project as announced during his visit to Japan and Indonesia.

The PM also said the decline in national car manufacturer Proton Holdings Bhd’s sales in the past 10 years was due to the previous government’s policy, which allowed an easy access for foreign carmakers to enter the local market.

The situation was made worse when these carmakers imposed tight conditions for local cars to enter their markets, he said.

“We are too open…even if the car is made of ‘tin Milo’, we will let it enter our market.

“This is the problem that we are facing, thus there is a need to review certain conditions, so that foreign cars cannot enter Malaysia easily.

“We agree with free trade. But we find that even though the tax has been reduced on certain goods by developed countries, they have also imposed certain conditions such as Euro 5 (standards) for less carbon monoxide from cars.

“There are some countries that impose agriculture tax on cars…By imposing many conditions, it limits Proton to penetrate their markets. These countries have huge plants and produce millions of cars annually, and they impose restrictions on cars entering their markets,” said Dr Mahathir.

He added that the government remains open to collaborate with international automotive power- houses with regard to developing the third national car.

“We are ready to give them adequate shares following detailed negotiations, but we need to be in control of the companies’ management.

“We have reached the stage where Malaysians are able to produce cars from A to Z, from designing to marketing,” he explained.

Dr Mahathir stressed that Malaysian talents would go to waste if the country sold its company to foreigners.

Proton, he said, was a success story for Malaysia as it managed to sell 25,000 cars in the UK, among others.

“Proton was able to penetrate local and overseas markets. However, due to poor governance of the previous government, which has little knowledge in the automotive industry, it resulted declines in Proton’s performance.

“Proton was also not given a RM1 billion fund, which was promised to them for research refund purpose, and was disbursed only after Proton was sold to a foreign entity,” he said.