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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20 — A third national car project will kickstart an industrialisation drive to transform Malaysia into a regional manufacturing powerhouse and a blue chip economy, Tun Daim Zainuddin said today.
The former finance minister said he personally felt that was the end-goal behind Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s push for a new automobile company despite strong protests from both politicians and the public.
“This is my personal view: It’s not so much about a third car, but he wants the right education to face the future and the future is in manufacturing,” Daim told reporters here.
“Mainly in engineering skills so we can compete, and we have identified automotive as one of the best ways to upgrade our skills so we can supply and export.”
The third national car project could also help Malaysia become the main automobile manufacturer that could export its expertise within South East Asia, he added.
“So we won’t just export ours but supply (parts for other) Asean cars,” he said.
The prime minister has pushed repeatedly for Malaysia to start another national car project, to the dismay of some sections of the country who do not want a return to the protectionism characteristic of Proton’s prime.
He reacted to this coldly by telling Malaysia to abandon its ambitions to be a developed nation if it is so averse to his idea.
Speaking in Beijing yesterday, Dr Mahathir renewed arguments for his idea by noting that China was not only a major automobile producer but was now the “factory to the world”.
Dr Mahathir is on a four-day visit to China, during which he has been hosted by Alibaba’s Jack Ma as well as Proton’s shareholder, Geely.
Yesterday, Dr Mahathir secured Geely’s agreement to sell Proton cars in China.