Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has likened the sale of the national carmaker to the Chinese to the separation of Singapore from Malaysia. He was responding to news that China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group will buy 49.9% of Proton. Dr Mahathir started the national carmaker in 1983 to instill pride in Malaysians that locals were good enough to produce cars.
Describing Proton as his “child” that is lost, he said that he cannot help but cry even if Malaysians are largely dry-eyed. Dr Mahathir said that now that Proton has been sold, it will reach the greatness of Singapore.
“I am sure Proton will do well. It will be a commercial success. It will be sold all over the world. The Proton name will be everywhere. It will be like Singapore. Malaysians are proud of this great city-state. If it had not been sold it would be, perhaps, as well developed as Kuala Kedah or Kuala Perlis. Then we cannot be proud of Singapore.
Now we can be proud of Proton. With money and superior technology it will compete with Rolls Royce and Bentley. But I cannot be proud of its success. I cannot be proud of the success of something that does not belong to me or my country. Maybe other Malaysians will, but not me.”
Dr Mahathir lamented that in his old age he had to watch the country being “sold to foreigners to settle the trillion Ringgits” that the Malaysians owe.