Malaysia's Mahathir slams Proton acquisition by Chinese carmaker

PHOTO: Reuters

PETALING JAYA - Former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad has slammed the acquisition of a 49.9 per cent stake in Proton by Chinese carmaker Zheijiang Geely Automotive from Malaysian conglomerate DRB-Hicom.

In a blog post on on Thursday (May 25), the former Proton Holdings chairman said that the acquisition was akin to him "losing a child".

"Proton has been sold. It has been sold to foreigners. Yes. I am sad. I can cry. But the deed is done. Proton can no longer be national. No national car now. We Malaysians are glad to be rid of this pesky car," Tun Dr Mahathir wrote.

"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," Dr Mahathir, who is now the chairman of the opposition Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Pribumi) party wrote sarcastically.

He said that with money and superior technology, Proton would be able to compete with Rolls Royce and Bentley.

However, Dr Mahathir said he could not be proud of it as Proton "does not belong to me or my country".

"I will die soon. I am already beyond average age. And as I slip into my final years, or month or days, I will watch as our beloved country is sold to foreigners to settle the trillion ringgits that we owe. We will have to sell more and more of our country," he said.

"I am a sissy. I cry even if Malaysians are dry-eyed. My child is lost. And soon my country," he said of Proton, which was set up in 1983 during his tenure as prime minister.

Proton received RM1.5 billion (S$486 million) in government aid last year on condition that it pursue a turnaround plan and seek a foreign partner.

DRB-Hicom said on Wednesday it had reached an agreement for the sale of the stake. Both parties expect to sign the definitive agreement in July 2017.