Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, founder and chairman of Proton Holdings Bhd (Proton), stands by it as Malaysia’s national car, despite some contrasting statements the government was reported to have said.
According to The Malaysian Insider, during an interview in conjunction with Proton’s 30th anniversary, Tun Dr Mahathir said: "It was the government, not us (Proton). We still consider Proton as the national car, but the government does not think it is the national car, that is the government's policy, we cannot say anything,"
"We consider ourselves as the national car, but the government doesn't consider that (any more), it sees us as the same as the others, whether national or imported, all the same."
He added that he would continue to contribute his ideas and time where it is needed and accepted, and that he would continue to lead the automaker forward.
"As long as I can walk, talk and give my ideas, I will be (the chairman), unless the owner gets rid of me. I don't know about that. Right now, I personally go down to inspect the cars, I do everything myself, I test the products after they are created. Every change they make, I test."
The National Automotive Policy (NAP) has recently lifted the protections for the local automobile industry, leaving Malaysian automakers Proton and Perodua to face stiffer competition from foreign manufacturers.
Tun Dr Mahathir took a swing at the Malaysian Automotive Institute in defence of the local automotive industry, responding to Putrajaya encouraging more competition within the space. He said the stronger foreign competition could result in the loss of “a hundred thousand or so” jobs.
Madani Sahari, CEO of the Malaysian Automotive Institute said that foreign brands accounted for 53 percent of the 2014 passenger car market whereas in 2006, the year NAP was introduced, foreign cars accounted for a much lower 22 percent.