PETALING JAYA, June 25 — Putrajaya is currently in talks with Proton’s Chinese owners to have Malaysians supply components for its cars, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.
Negotiations will also look into possible joint ventures between Chinese and Malaysian suppliers, said Dr Mahathir, adding that the main objective of the talks is to ensure locals stay involved with the carmaker.
“We want to try and have locals supply the components and also maybe set up a joint venture,” he told the press here.
Dr Mahathir held talks with Geely representatives last week, the first meeting to take place between the two after the prime minister said he was considering starting a third national car company.
Geely owns close to half of Proton shares after the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government brokered a deal to save the carmaker from closure.
Dr Mahathir had previously opposed the deal, and two weeks ago he told the Japanese press that the company can no longer be called a national car because of Geely’s stake in Proton.
The prime minister was instrumental in founding Proton, and also played a major role in the formation of a much more succesful second national car company, Perodua, as part of a wider policy meant to industrialise Malaysia.
Despite his criticism of Geely, Dr Mahathir today admitted to being impressed by the technology brought in by the Chinese through Proton.
“I have to say they have really good technology,” he told reporters, adding that talks over Proton’s direction with its Chinese partners last Friday was meant to tap into that expertise.
“I tried driving the new SUV and I found that it was of very high quality,” the 92-year-old, a known fan of cars, added.