Malaysiakini Letter

Tale of two brothers – Proton and Perodua

Allen Tan
Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | Now we have a new government under Pakatan Harapan (PH). The voters decided to see the regime under BN removed after 61 years of rule.

Many trusted Dr Mahathir Mohamad and that he could bring about reforms. But to the dismay of many supporters, there are some ideas brought up by him that show he has the intention to move back to the old ways.

One of which is to see the reviving of a national car project called the third national car.

The first national car, Proton, has survived 30 plus years. Unfortunately, it has bled the Treasury of billions of ringgit. And today it is half-owned by Geely from China which holds half of its shares. Mahathir has fudged about regarding the changing of hands in the deal.

Many Malaysians have heard about “The Tale of Two Brothers.” The elder brother was being pampered with provisions, and at the end of the day, he kept relying on his daddy.

And whereas the younger one was not given anything and at the end of the day, he put in his own effort and came out a successful man. The two brothers are Proton and Perodua respectively.

Proton has no will to improve its quality and image. Models remain the same for many years. When a new model has come up, it would just be a “copy and paste” one. Where was the innovation?

Malaysians have gone through a generation of agony for being forced to buy a “protected” national car which is not worth the value. Unqualified people were placed in top positions in the company.

When the government wanted to build up a car industry, there was no political will to develop a good infrastructure for public transportation. The LRT and MRT were, in fact, 30 years too late.

When more cars piled up on the roads, it became a nightmare for the people. Urban people who are on the roads don’t live a quality life.

They waste too many hours each day on the roads. This has hindered production for the country.

When public transportation is poor, people are forced to buy cars. Mind you, owning a car in Malaysia will take a toll on the owner (pun intended).

Let’s say if one earns RM3,000 per month, for him to buy a modest car that costs RM40,000, he would probably need to serve a five-year loan. I pity the young ones who are fresh in the job market. Many have to even serve a nine-year loan for a cheap car.

For an American, a modest car will cost US$8,000. If one earns US$3,000 per month, one could probably settle that loan within a year.

So, I urge Dr Mahathir, please spare us further agony. It will take many years to build a heavy industry. You don’t need engineering prowess in order to squeeze into the list of developed nations. Singapore has no heavy industry and today she is a First World country.

To regulate the import of cars is against the global policy of promoting free trade. Don’t repeat “The Tale of Two Brothers” again. The word “protectionism” should not be the motto for Harapan to reform the country.

Car technology has already gone too far. It is too late for us to design and manufacture a car that will impact the global market.

Instead, I hope Dr Mahathir can bring in experts to develop our public transportation in all the cities instead. City folks have suffered sleep debts.

They have to get up very early in order to beat the terrible traffic jams. And after finishing their day's work, they will have to crawl in the jam again. And subsequently, not only productivity is hindered, but family life is affected too.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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