Malaysiakini Letter

Electric cars - why did Dyson choose S'pore and not us?

TK Chua
Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | My heart skipped a beat when I read that British technology company Dyson will be building electric cars in Singapore by 2021.

I remember that our prime minister met James Dyson, the founder of the company bearing his name, during his visit to the UK recently. I was thinking then perhaps something positive would come out from that meeting because of our obsession with car manufacturing.

Apparently, Dyson had already decided on Singapore to be its base for electric car manufacturing. According to reports, Dyson is currently employing around 1,100 people in Singapore in developing new technologies and advanced manufacturing.

As a Malaysian, I am disheartened to read news like this. Since when was Singapore interested in car manufacturing? The last time it assembled cars was in the 1980s.

But don’t get me wrong. Singapore is not going into ordinary car manufacturing. It is going into hi-tech electric car manufacturing to cater to the international market.

Don’t you think if ever Malaysia wants to go into another car project, it should be something like what Dyson is doing in Singapore? Certainly, it can’t be another Proton. In ten years, we are not even sure if fossil fuel powered cars will still be around.

Why did Dyson choose Singapore, or rather, why was Malaysia overlooked?

I think the writing is on the wall already – it is difficult for Malaysia to attract hi-tech investment because of our low knowledge base, low- technology and low wage conundrum.

Singapore has its Science Park and Advanced Manufacturing Centre. It has sufficient engineers, researchers and scientists to support sophisticated and advanced manufacturing and investment.

We, too, have science and technology parks in Malaysia but I think they are more like landlords rather than being a catalyst for advanced manufacturing.

Probably, I am saying something that is already a cliché – Malaysia can never go “high income” or “high tech” if we are only good in attracting workers with no education and skill from countries poorer than us.

Soon, we will gravitate toward their standard of living instead. Our everyday preoccupation, from business tycoons to hawkers to government officials, is to make money and profit from foreign workers. This seems to be our only competitive weapon.

We missed the opportunity provided by Dyson. Next, we may even miss out on bicycle manufacturing too, which has also gone high-tech and innovative.

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

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