BEIJING: Malaysia must change its approach from being a consumer nation to a producing nation if its economy is to develop further.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said this was the approach adopted by China, which led it to become the world’s second largest economic superpower.
“In Malaysia, we only want to use high-quality goods but we do not learn how to make them. In China, the attitude is different.
“They not only want to buy quality goods but also learn how to produce them.
“In the end, it is the producers who win and we, as the consumer, are only sending money out of the country,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said this attitude among Malaysians was on full display when many disagreed with the idea of a third national car project.
“Malaysians only want to become consumers. Many people objected to the idea of a third national car project because they only want to buy foreign cars.
“But China is different. They were not making cars when we were producing Proton. And now, their cars are of the same technological standards as European makes,” he said.
Dr Mahathir was speaking at a luncheon with Malaysian corporate leaders on Sunday as part of his five-day official visit to China.
Also present were Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking, and Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok Suh Sim.
Among the corporate figures in attendance were Petronas president and chief executive officer, Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin; Malaysia - China Business Council president Tan Yew Sing; and Prasarana Malaysia Bhd president and chief executive officer, Masnizam Hisham.
The prime minister also urged Malaysians and Malaysian traders to drop the ‘humble approach’ if they wish to succeed.
Citing an example, he said when Malaysian companies produce goods, they are fond of branding the products as if they originate from Europe.
“This does not happen in South Korea and China. They are proud to use brands with a local identity.
“Our companies also need to do this and make high-quality products which use our own brands without the need to hide behind European names,” he said.
Dr Mahathir, in June, had announced that the government is looking into embarking on a third national car project, after Proton and Perodua, both of which were conceived during his first tenure as prime minister.
During a visit to Japan on Aug 7, the prime minister said the government has sought assistance from several Japanese automotive companies, including Nissan Motor and Toyota Motor, to embark on the third national car project.
Accessing Japanese automotive expertise, he had said, would be “essential” to manufacturing cars to modern standards. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd