Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad had openly talked about his plan to start a new national car since his first foreign visit to Japan on June 11, and the narrative continued in his visit to Indonesia where President Joko Widodo had agreed to join Dr Mahathir’s plan to build an ASEAN car − a business venture that was left off due to unforeseen circumstances back in 2015.
Speaking in Dewan Rakyat today (Jul 30), the premier again talked about his intention to build the third national car but he said the government would first review the national automotive policy to tighten rules in regards to foreign cars import, Malay Mail reported.
Dr Mahathir claimed that the Barisan Nasional administration had lost its stringency in the past decade when allowing international cars to enter Malaysia market, including those brands who produced poor quality vehicles. He claimed that the move had stunted the growth of local manufacturers.
“We need to review the possibility of imposing certain conditions against the (import of) foreign cars so they would not have easy access into the country.
“This will give a chance to Proton and other national cars to dominate the local market. This is something we are mulling,” said Dr Mahathir, as quoted by Malaysiakini.
However, Dr Mahathir clarified that while the government still promotes the practice of free trade but certain ground rules ought to be established to safeguard Malaysian consumers and the environment. Citing to other countries worldwide, Dr Mahathir said the European emission standards was one policy set up to monitor acceptable limits of exhaust emissions from vehicles.
“But here, any cars produced, even those made out of ‘Milo tins’ can enter the Malaysian market, so it is very open.
“Any car producer can enter our markets – that is the problem we are facing.
“As such we are looking into imposing certain conditions to disallow cars from (arbitrarily) entering local markets,” added the premier. The ‘Milo tins’ reference is a running joke among Malaysians because Proton and Perodua cars used to have soft body panels originating from Japan.
The Star reported that the government would also review national automotive policy so that local manufacturers such as Proton and Perodua could remain competitive in the Malaysian market. Dr Mahathir claimed that having a new national car project would boost Malaysia’s engineering know-how.