PETALING JAYA – Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed wants all quarters to stop their criticism of Proton Holdings Bhd’s deal with a Chinese automative company, claiming the move was only logical if it was to succeed.
The International Trade and Industry Minister said the deal to sell 49.9% of Proton’s stake to Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd was to prioritise and in the interest of Proton’s vendors, management and its staff.
“To the critics of the Proton-Geely partnership, I say enough is enough.
“The choice before us all is clear. We either let Proton restructure its business with the help of a foreign partner or we turn a blind eye to the problems that the company is facing.
“Logic and common sense must prevail against emotions at any turn, if we are to succeed in this rapidly changing global landscape,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Mustapa was responding to former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s claim in his blog post on Thursday that the move to sell Proton’s stake was an act of vengeance.
The minister said it was unfortunate that the government’s intention of wanting Proton to succeed was labelled as such, adding that there was no point of maintaining ‘national pride’ as claimed by Mahathir if it meant letting the company to continue bleeding cash and jeopardising the welfare of its workers.
To Mahathir’s claim that the government has not disbursed the RM1.5 billion fund promised to Proton, Mustapa pointed that RM1.25 billion has been given out to the company to settle the outstanding payments to its vendors.
“The balance RM250 million will be disbursed in about a week,” he said, adding that a further RM1.1 billion research grant would be reimbursed to Proton when the final agreement with Geely is signed in July.
Mustapa, however, said the government could not keep on helping Proton out each time it faces financial difficulties, and that it was for that reason that the RM1.5 billion soft loan was made conditional upon Proton securing a foreign strategic partner.
He also stressed that the decision to partner Geely was purely a commercial one and that joint ventures have become a norm in the automative industry, citing Nissan-Renault and Cherry-Jaguar Land Rover as examples.