Proton-Geely JV should be credited to former BN gov't: Najib

Kalbana Perimbanayagam

KUALA LUMPUR: The decision by the previous Barisan Nasional-led government to sell off a chunk of Proton to Geely has proven to be a smart move.

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said this today, claiming that if Proton had not sold its shares to the Chinese company, the Proton Holdings Bhd and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group joint venture, announced on Sunday, would not have happened.

In a posting on Facebook this morning, Najib had gone on to say that when Geely took up a 49 per cent stake in Proton, current Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad did not welcome the news and accused him (Najib) of selling the country’s honour.

“A year later, I was happy to see Geely fulfilling their promises and announcing that they would be selling Proton cars (in China), witnessed by Mahathir himself, who looked very happy.

“It was only a year ago that he had criticised me and through his writings, said that he could no longer be proud of Proton after Geely was made partner,” he wrote.

Najib also stated that at that time Proton was in critical condition to the extent that the suppliers were not paid and 60,000 employees were at the risk of losing their jobs.

He said its parent company, DRB-Hicom, was also affected by the turmoil.

“The company suffered huge losses each year, sales were dropping, exports were low and in terms of technology, Proton has been lagging far behind and Mahathir, as the advisor and chairman of Proton, was aware of the situation,” he wrote in the post.

He added that therefore, restructuring was needed and the government then granted a RM1.5 billion soft loan to Proton, before the company partnered with Geely.

The former premier also pointed out that prior to the 14th General Elections, apart from Proton, he was also accused of selling the country by welcoming Chinese-funded projects such as “Forest City” and “Melaka Gateway”. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd