Critic reminds Dr M of previous bid to recruit Geely for Proton rescue

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad lamented the loss of his ‘child’ following the sale of a minority stake in Proton to Geely. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad lamented the loss of his ‘child’ following the sale of a minority stake in Proton to Geely. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad travelled to China in 2014 to try and convince Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (Geely) to partner with Proton.

The former prime minister, who this week lamented the loss of his “child” following the sale of a minority stake in Proton to Geely, was reminded of this attempt on Twitter today.

In the tweet addressed at his @chedetofficial account, a user linked an article from the Nikkei Asian Review that reported of Dr Mahahir’s bid together with Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, who owns the DRB-Hicom group that bought Proton Holdings in 2012, to form a partnership with Geely.

Geely this week acquired 49.9 per cent of Proton Holdings.

Dr Mahathir was at the time still the chairman of Proton, and was reportedly attempting to rescue the carmaker after it was allegedly denied funds by the government owing to the former prime minister’s offensive against Putrajaya.

He later resigned as chairman following internal rumblings at Proton that his feud with senior Umno leaders could lead to repercussions for the national car maker.

Following news of the sale to Geely this week, Dr Mahathir responded negatively on his blog.

“I am a sissy. I cry even if Malaysians are dry-eyed. My child is lost. And soon my country. Please excuse me,” Dr Mahathir wrote on Thursday.

The deal between DRB-Hicom and Geely was announced on Wednesday, with Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani saying that Proton would remain a national car because Proton would still have a majority hold of 50.1 per cent.

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

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

At one point, Proton dominated the sales charts with nearly 80 per cent of new passenger cars sold coming from its stable, but the brand has since fallen behind second national carmaker Perodua and even foreign marques Toyota and Honda. 

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