Era of Dr M’s meddling in Proton over, says Najib

Proton Perdana

(MMO) – Proton Holdings Bhd is entering a new chapter where it will no longer face the interference of politicians such as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

At the launch of the company’s new Perdana sedan today, Najib said such meddling in the decision-making process at Proton was why the carmaker needed billions in government assistance to remain viable.

“There has been too much political interference in Proton’s strategy, management ― including of personnel ― and business model. We saw the results of that early this year. A manufacturer which should be a source of national pride was facing a very difficult situation.

“Now, I am pleased to say, there have been significant changes at the top levels of Proton. Tun Mahathir’s era of political interference has come to an end,” Najib said.

Dr Mahathir resigned as Proton chairman on March 31, shortly after he was removed as Petronas adviser owing to his criticism of Putrajaya.

Najb Proton

Umno leaders such as Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan subsequently blamed Proton’s troubles on Dr Mahathir, alluding to a “dictatorial” style of influence.

Dr Mahathir was also faulted for weaknesses in Proton that required the government to pump in at least RM13.9 billion in various forms to keep the firm operational.

Proton was set up by Dr Mahathir in 1983 and remains the poster child of the former prime minister’s industrialisation policies.

It had once dominated the local car market with over 70 per cent of car sales, but this has since fallen to under 15 per cent and behind younger carmaker Perodua.

Proton came under the private ownership of the DRB-HICOM group in 2012, but remains identified as a national carmaker.