Najib: ‘Obsession’ with Proton reason for poor public transport

Public transportation development was stunted during the Mahathir administration because of the obsession with building up the national car company, Proton, said Datuk Seri Najib Razak. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Public transportation development was stunted during the Mahathir administration because of the obsession with building up the national car company, Proton, said Datuk Seri Najib Razak. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 ― Public transportation development was forced to take a backseat because the Mahathir administration was “obsessed” with building up national car company, Proton, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.

Addressing around 5,000 Prasarana staffs here, Najib said the focus on private ownership of cars had led to flawed public transport planning that resulted in a fragmented and hay-wired system.

“When I took over public transport was so fragmented and hay-wired,” he said.

“In fact there were three systems, three ownerships. They were not integrated at all and we had three different systems and they were not even talking to each other.

“Because (they were) too obsessed with Proton and the national car,” he added.

Dr Mahathir founded Proton in 1983 and the country's first national car company became one of the symbols of his industrialisation policy.

But public transport analysts believe the founding of Proton also led to policies that promoted private ownership of cars, leaving public transportation development in a lurch.

Najib said today when he took office in 2009 he made efforts to improve the public transportation a top government priority.

This resulted in a public transportation system revamp masterplan aimed at integrating existing systems and infrastructures.

"An efficient public transport system is the hallmark of all major cities in the world.

"So I dare to say that my government made a spot on decision when we decided that public transport improvement a top priority," he said.

Efficient public transportation is set as one the national key results areas under the Economic Transformation Plan. One of its key projects is the construction of the 150km Mass Rail Transit lines.

Najib said a study showed the much improved public transport system today had generated RM13.3 billion in terms of economic value in 2016.

It is expected to rise up to RM17 billion this year.

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