KUALA LUMPUR: Both sides of the political divide have joined the chorus of objections to Prime MinisterTun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s proposed third national car project, saying that Malaysians will be the ones to suffer if it gets off the ground.
In separate statements issued yesterday, PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli and MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong asked the government to reconsider the plan.
Rafizi said the project would cost a lot of taxpayers’ money to implement and Putrajaya could not start something the people did not want.
He said the government must be mindful that Pakatan Harapan (PH) was chosen on its promises to reduce the people’s burden and cost of living.
“Implementing something that is not popular and against PH’s promises would only invite scorn from the people, who had put much faith in the government to bring about change in the country,” he said, adding that the proposal must also be discussed first between PH component parties.
“This involves a policy decision and it should be brought to the Presidential Council meeting first, for approval of the component parties.
“A binding decision on policies should be scrutinised at the PH level before it is implemented through the cabinet.”
Rafizi said PH’s agenda had always been to abolish excise duty on imported cars to make them more affordable for Malaysians, as opposed to another national car project.
He questioned if a detailed study had been done before the announcement that the third national car project could be launched by 2020.
Entrepreneur Development Minister Mohd Redzuan Yusof was quoted as saying that the government was set to launch the national car project 3.0 by 2020 and that the move could revitalise the national automotive industry.
Dr Mahathir had reaffirmed his aspiration of building the third national car project during his visit to Japan in June. Wee said if the government revived Dr Mahathir’s “old dream”, it could lead to skyrocketing imported car prices.
He said the previous government had put in place unfair policies to restrict and heavily tax imported vehicles and their component and parts to protect Proton, the national car project started by Dr Mahathir during his previous tenure.
This caused many manufacturers to set up plants in Thailand and Indonesia, which had since gained tremendously from the resulting booming parts manufacturing industry, as well as technology transfer.
Wee said Thailand and Indonesia exported 1.3 million and 100,000 vehicles per annum respectively, in stark contrast to Proton, which had churned out its first Saga since 1983, but only managed 20,000 to 30,000 per year.
“The last quarterly report of Proton before it was taken private showed a RM88.205 million loss.
“In 2017, the automotive manufacturing industry amounted to only four per cent of our GDP, far lacking behind service and other manufacturing industries.”
He said based on the statistical analysis, a national car with incentives and privileged treatments would only disrupt the organic development of the automotive industry and “bring nothing good at all”.
He said the National Automotive Policy was equivalent to a punishment of non-national car buyers, resulting in Approved Permit and becoming a hotbed for cronyism and racial discrimination.
“Our automotive industry, which was restricted due to the national car, had been left behind by our neighbouring countries for so long.
“We will not be able to close the gap with a mere third national car,” he said, adding that “reality and post-mortem” reveal that a third national car would not have a bright future.
Wee said the government must answer why it was “oblivious” to the fact and “adamant on building one man’s happiness on the people’s sufferings”. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd