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Tun M – please stop playing with cars

POSTED BY Yamin Vong ON 06 July 2018

Dear Dr M,

 

I think you should stop playing with toy cars and concentrate on getting the criminals into jail. That’s what I think most Malaysians elected the Harapan government for.

I don’t think many of us voters want another national car. We want a more efficient public transport system that everyone can and often use. Until then, we want a good choice of cars with less taxes and/or rebates for scrapping old jalopies.

At first, when we heard about your plans for another national car, we hoped that it would fade away, and you would focus on the bigger issues at hand.

Since there is now talk about an Indo-Malaysia national car, and knowing your creativity in such matters, I’m certain that you can pull something spectacular off. But please, remain focused on fixing the institutions and systems.

In the new mood of openness of the Harapan Government, why don’t we get on with it and admit that the Proton project ended as an ironic failure for two systematic reasons:

 

  1. Government can’t run car companies.
  2. Malaysia offers insufficient scale for the conventional model of car manufacturing.

 

We don’t need to say that Proton helped Thailand become the Detroit for Asia. You also made that happen when you successfully fended off the currency speculators who ambushed the Thai Baht.

When you defied the IMF and led Malaysia safely out of the Asian Financial Crisis 1998/1999, it also had the unintended effect of making Thailand a cheaper investment destination.

Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi to name but a few, shifted their entire pick-up production to Thailand as their global hub.

The private sector will grow the automotive industry if the fiscal policy attracts car makers; no need for the government to make another national car.

That’s the type of National Automotive Policy Malaysia needs. It is a challenge for the Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI).

As a think tank under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the MAI’s NAP 2.0 has succeeded in making Malaysia the regional base for Volvo’s plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVS). The NAP 2.0 also has made Malaysia the second largest market for the BMW X5 Plug in hybrid.

The MAI was planning to launch NAP 3.0 with accents on electric vehicles and autonomous driving. Hope you’ll also guide your new MITI, YB Darrel Leiking, on the AP policy.

You were one of the architects of the AP policy for cars. It’s now a system that has evolved to benefit influential Barisan Nasional politicians and business associates. It’s time now to overhaul the system so that the government gets the revenue rather than it continue going into the pockets of individuals.

 

Yamin Vong is the editor of Motorme.my.