Dr Mahathir hits out sarcastically at calls to liberalise auto industry


PETALING JAYA - Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic) has taken a dig at calls to liberalise the automotive industry.

In his latest blog posting on Thursday, he sarcastically stated that it was better for workers in the automotive industry to lose their jobs so that the consumers could buy imported cars at a cheaper price.

He was responding to a report by a business daily, quoting the Malaysia Automotive Institute to liberalise the industry, as it would benefit consumers and allow local players to export market.

Dr Mahathir, who is also Proton chairman, said if the national carmaker lost to its competitors, it would have to close down.

"A hundred thousand or so workers, engineers and managers will lose their jobs. Their families will suffer.

"But that is alright, because the consumers will get better cars at lower prices from foreign countries," he wrote in his latest blog posting at chedet.cc.

Dr Mahathir said if the competition takes place, it would be "good" that the Malaysian automotive industry to compete with cars imported from carmaker giants - Japan, Korea, China and Germany.

Incidentally, he said, these countries impose conditions and standards, which prevent Malaysian cars from being imported into their countries to compete.

"So the consumers in Japan, Germany, Korea and China cannot enjoy the benefits of competition like their Malaysian counterparts," he said.

He then used an analogy in sports to explain competition.

"Some of us may have noticed that in sports for example, competition is between people of the same category by age or in football by division.

"In golf handicaps are given so that the competition would be fair. It is always the same in all competitions. We compare apple to apple and not apple to oranges," he said.

Dr Mahathir then cynically said that apparently in Malaysia, some people may not have noticed this.

"They have not noticed that the Malaysian industrial capacity is not at the same level as Japan, Korea, China or Germany.

"We may win in a Quran competition but not, I think, in the automotive field. We do well in badminton and squash but not in football.

"However if competing is what we have to do to benefit the consumers, we will do it. After all there are more consumers than people in the automotive industry," he said.

He said if it is the Government policy to support imports, "we have to accept it".

"Of course a lot of Malaysia's money would flow out to the rich countries and their workers will get higher incomes.

"So let us compete and let our consumers enjoy the benefits. The people who lose their job would not be able to consume. But that is a small price to pay," he said.