Criticism over Proton-Geely partnership misses the point: Malaysia minister

PHOTO: Reuters

PETALING JAYA -People should stop criticising the move by Proton Holdings Bhd (Proton) to form a partnership with China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co as the Government could not "turn a blind eye" to its problems.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the choices presented were clear - let Proton restructure its business with the help of a foreign partner or ignore the problems faced by the national carmaker.

"At the end of the day, it is in the interest of Proton's vendors, management and staff that must be prioritised above and beyond pride as well as nostalgia.

"Logic and common sense must prevail against emotions if we are to succeed in this rapidly changing global landscape," said Mustapa in a statement on Saturday.

He added that the decision to partner Geely was purely a commercial one made in the best interest of Proton, its vendors and its employees.

Mustapa said it was made after taking into account a number of factors including benefits from Geely Holding's technology, R&D facilities and injection of cash.

Thus it was "very unfortunate", said Mustapa, that the Government's "sincere intention and unwavering commitment" of wanting Proton to succeed were labelled by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as an "act of vengeance".

"Proton's sale was forced because of vengeance. Pride is not important. Revenge is more important," said the former premier in his blog over the move to allow Geely Holdings to acquire a 49.9 per cent stake in Proton.

Mustapa said the Government would always function in the best interest of the nation.

"We do not make decisions based on personal vendettas and the need to settle scores," added Mustapa.

He also pointed out that the automotive industry had become very global and interconnected, with joint ventures becoming the norm, citing the examples of Nissan-Renault and Cherry-Jaguar Land Rover.

"What is the point of maintaining 'national pride' as claimed by Tun Mahathir if it means allowing the company to continue bleeding cash and jeopardising the welfare of its workers?

"Furthermore, to repeat the allegation that we are sacrificing national pride is pointless as evidenced by the Perodua-Daihatsu partnership and many other joint ventures," added Mustapa.