No govt bailout for DreamEDGE if national car project fails, says MITI minister

Darell reiterates that DreamEDGE will not be granted any govt funding for the project

by AFIQ AZIZ/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

THE government will not bail out the anchor company for the third national car, DreamEDGE Sdn Bhd — if it fails — in line with Putrajaya’s promise that the initiative will be privately driven.

Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) Minister Datuk Darell Leiking reiterates that DreamEDGE will not be granted any government funding for the project.

According to Darell, DreamEDGE so far had not filed any request of funding or incentive from the government.

“We are just supporting the ecosystem and this is the way forward.

“If it fails, that is the management failure or product failure. But in this case, the product is clear and they are able to work with Japanese technology and are confident of it. So, why should we kill it?” Darell told the press after officiating the Malaysia Aerospace Summit 2019 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday

Darell also said DreamEDGE has given assurance to the government to not seek any fund over the initiative.

“That is why we supported the project, to tell people that we have our trust in this company, just like in many other companies that we trust in doing business today.

“If they ask for money from the government, we will not support it, this is very clear,” Darell said.

Last week, Darell named DreamEDGE as the new national car project (NNCP) leader — a programme that was mooted by Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad last year.

The NNCP would also see Daihatsu Motor Co Ltd providing advanced technological support over the development. Subsequently, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong claimed that Darell and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had lied over the government’s involvement in the project, saying DreamEDGE was partially owned by VentureTECH Sdn Bhd — the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology’s (MIGHT) full subsidiary.

However, DreamEDGE CEO Khairil Adri Adnan denied the claim, saying that he is the company’s major shareholder, while VentureTECH has only 10% of the total shares since 2017.

MIGHT is an agency under the PM’s Department.

On Tuesday, Dr Mahathir also told the press that he was not involved in the approval or selection of the anchor company to lead NNCP.

However, Darell clarifies that the PM was referring to the 2017 investment of VentureTECH in DreamEDGE shares, not the decision of selecting the project leader.

“On the decision of (selecting) DreamEDGE, Tun (Dr Mahathir) never said he did not make that decision,” he said.

Darell explained that the type of government support to the company would be the same as what has been provided in the typical domestic and foreign investments — ie tax incentives — upon the company’s application.

“Even on this, it will only be given to them if they qualified. If not, how would we want to grant these incentives? During our watch, we would not easily give any incentive. We will make sure it has the benefit to the nation, employment, creates technology that can be beneficial to the people at large,” he said.

DreamEDGE has said the company had already secured the funding from a private investor for the development of the new national car, as well as the technology to introduce its first model in March 2021.

When asked why the project is called a national car project when it is a private initiative, Darell said that was to accommodate the new definition of “National Car” under the new proposed National Automotive Policy that’s to be unveiled by year-end.

Last week, during the NNCP lead project announcement, Malaysia Automotive Robotics and IoT Institute revealed the new criteria in determining national car status.

The criterion include “privately funded”, with no government injection and that Malaysian equity in the company must be higher than the foreign firm.