The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) has assured that the third national car project, which Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad shockingly conveyed his interest back in June, will not be like Proton, according to MITI Deputy Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming.
In a report by The Sun Daily, Dr Ong said Tun Dr Mahathir’s concept of the third national car project is not about going back to Proton, but for energy efficient vehicles (EEV) and propelling the automotive industry into something more sustainable and green.
Image from Bernama
Dr Ong said the National Automotive Policy (NAP), which his ministry is confident will be finalized by the end of the year, needs to look at new mobility pathways, trends in driving patterns, and be adjusted with the improvement in public transportation and vendor development in the ecosystem.
He added that he hoped members of the public do not think that Tun Dr Mahathir’s intention is to revive Proton as Proton 2.0.
“Tun Dr Mahathir has spoken about the possibility of having an ASEAN car with cooperation with Indonesia, so there is an opportunity to explore with other players, but looking at the angle of how NAP is going at an international level, moving towards electric cars and EEV, and the value chain that comes along it, which includes electronics, artificial intelligence, internet of things – that would be part and parcel of the ecosystem,” concluded Dr Ong.
Meanwhile, Nurul Izzah, head of the Ministry of Education’s Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme, has also voiced her concern on the mooted third national car programme.
Image from Nurul Izzah official Facebook page
In a press statement today, YB Nurul Izzah, who is also Member of Parliament for Permatang Pauh, said the country must quickly make a shift from manufacturing-based economy to a knowledge-based economy on product development, engineering, technology, and intellectual property.
She argued that despite the Chinese-ownership, Proton’s presence in the nation is a boon to local human capital and parts suppliers and vendors.
“Isn’t ensuring that our engineers and designers can benefit from Proton despite its foreign ownership an important part of the national automotive policy?”
“What about Perodua? Sales report show that Perodua has exceeded 40 percent of the market share on a monthly basis. What is the impact of Perodua’s success on the human capital development and Malaysian intellectual properties involved with the company?” questioned Nurul Izzah.
“Isn’t Perodua’s cooperation with global automotive giant Toyota (through ownership of Daihatsu) enough to achieve the original goal of the national automotive project?”
The Perodua Bezza and Perodua Myvi are vehicles exclusively developed by talented Malaysians at Perodua and local vendors for the Malaysian market.
“Maybe it’s time for Perodua to be independent and try to develop a modern vehicle capable of competing without foreign business partners?” she asked.
While we do not have quick answers to these questions, MITI and Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI) reported some figures pertaining to the improvement of human capital in the automotive industry since the implementation of NAP2014.
Since the announcement of the policy four years ago, 27,125 new jobs were created as of December 2017, which marks nearly a five percent increase compared to 2016. MAI also indicated that 23,444 foreign workers were replaced. A target of 29,641 new jobs have been set for 2018.
MITI also commented that the growth of the automotive industry has created new career opportunities for Malaysians.
Image of the interior of MAIRC from MAI website
Certified human capital programmes have been developed by MAI since 2014, not only to allow faster penetration of skills into the industry, but also to address the pertinent issue of foreign worker replacement among industry players.
MAI also has its resource centre, the MAIRC, located in Bukit Beruntung, Selangor. The MAIRC training centre, completed in 2017, houses industrial grade equipment including a hybrid vehicle trainer, tooling, and assembly jigs that cater to industrial based learning for semi-skilled workers, technicians and engineers.