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[Mahathir Vs Najib] Help Proton and Burden Rakyat or Encourage Foreign Car Import?

Critics have repeatedly called Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir to stifle down his obsession with local cars ever since he announced to the world that he has the intention to start another national car after almost half the stake in Proton Holding Berhad was sold to China.

But yesterday (Jul 30), Dr Mahathir brought his ambition to the Parliament and revealed that the government is studying foreign cars import policy and intended to tighten it so that local car manufacturers, Proton and Perodua, could remain competitive in the Malaysian market.

He argued that former premier Datuk Sri Najib Razak’s administration had lost its stringency and allowed international cars to enter Malaysia market, including those brands who produced poor quality vehicles. Dr Mahathir even described those cars as “made out of ‘Milo tins’” where the analogy was previously used to describe local cars with flimsy body panels originating from Japan.

Dr Mahathir said by imposing import restrictions, local car manufacturers could strive. He argued that by having the third and the new nation car, Malaysia could prove to the world that it’s a nation with strong engineering capability. You can read the full report yesterday here at FeedMe Malaysia.

Following the premier remark, Najib took to Facebook for a rebuttal. In the 700-worded post, Najib called out Pakatan Harapan for its hypocrisy citing that rakyat voted the coalition in because they pledged to reduce the people’s cost of living but now the new government wanted to increase car price.

“It would be ironic if the people vote for promises of cheaper petrol and abolition of tolls not only didn’t get it, but are ‘gifted’ with higher car prices instead.”

The Pekan MP continued, “When I was appointed as PM, high car prices and protection against Proton were among the major complaints and they burdened the people.

“A financial journalist estimated that Malaysians had to pay about RM360 billion for Proton and EON who at that time earned their income from the burden of the people, which eventually led to EON having their own bank.”

Source: Forbes

In response, his administration had abolished a ten percent import tax on Japanese cars and introduced the Energy Efficient Vehicle (EEV) initiative. EEV significantly reduced tax levies on cars who meet certain greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption standards. He also argued that his Goods and Services Tax (GST) also helped lowered car prices as Sales and Services Tax (SST) was higher, 6% as opposed to 10%.

Najib said Dr Mahathir’s push for new import policy would bring Malaysia back to 1980s and 1990s, something which was agreed by Malaysian Automotive Association president Aishah Ahmad who described it as a “regressive move,” Malaysiakini reported.

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