Dr M to bring in Chinese car parts makers to improve local talent

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PETALING JAYA (June 25): Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad wants to rope in car parts manufacturers from China to join hands with local manufacturers, in order to help improve Malaysians’ manufacturing capabilities. 

The prime minister said he has spoken to Li Shufu, chairman of Proton Holdings Bhd’s 49.9% shareholder Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd, with regards to the idea.

“He (Li) asked me, what is it that Malaysia wants. So I explained to him, that Proton may be managed by Geely, but we want Malaysians to participate in the supply of [car] components et cetera. 

“To upgrade the Malaysian manufacturers, we want him to bring in manufacturers from China to joint venture [with Malaysian manufacturers] to help [them]… So [Li] agreed,” Dr Mahathir told a news conference. 

Geely leads one of the biggest auto groups in the world, with stakes in Mercedes and Volvo. 

The participation of Geely in Proton would open doors for Malaysian car parts manufacturers to supply parts not only to the local market, but to overseas markets as well — if production quality is up to par.  

Amid changing market environment, Dr Mahathir said it is “not fair” for Malaysian car parts manufacturers to close down if they fail to upgrade themselves, as Geely may then bring in parts from other countries.  

Dr Mahathir met with top officials of Geely and DRB-Hicom chief executive officer Datuk Seri Syed Faisal Albar Syed Ali Reza Albar last Friday (June 22). DRB-Hicom holds 50.1% stake in Proton.  

Geely came in to Malaysia as Proton's foreign strategic partner in June 2017, as part of DRB-Hicom’s plan to turn the ailing automaker around. DRB-Hicom has given Geely the driver's seat in terms of Proton's management control in production, as well as in its manufacturing operations.