After Zhejiang Geely Holding and DRB-Hicom sealed a strategic partnership, the two companies announced last Friday the appointment of Li Chunrong as CEO of Proton Group’s manufacturing arm PONSB.

Li has assumed office from October 1.

The appointment is meant to re-create Proton through synergistic effects and professional leadership of an international brand into the country’s and Asean’s leading automobile brand.

From a comfortable position as Malaysia’s best-selling brand to continuous slide in its sale and enormous losses, Proton has failed to recover despite billions pumped in by the government and a move to privatize the company. It now needs fresh funds from somewhere else to halt the downward spiral.

Forming a strategic partnership with Geely is a vital step to up Proton’s sale and reverse the losing streak. In other words. Proton’s transformation this time marks a critically important milestone in the country’s vehicle manufacturing industry.

As for the sale of DRB-Hicom’s 49.9% stake in Proton and the appointment of Li as Proton CEO, we need to set aside our pride and unload our psychological burden for a national industry by tackling the issue wholly from the perspectives of business development strategy and expertise allocation for product quality and customer satisfaction enhancement.

As Li has said, Proton is indeed encountering many problems but what matters now is to look forward and not to look back.

Among Proton’s problems are poor management, inferior product innovation, lack of competitiveness and compromised profitability as a consequence of rising production cost.

What the company urgently needs now is a strategic partner in the likes of Geely to tackle its many problems.

Over the next ten weeks Li will unveil Proton’s transformation program encompassing eight major strategies with the emphasis on improving customer satisfaction while lifting product quality and expanding the marketing network.

Li boasts a wealth of experiences in the automobile industry, and Proton is poised to gain tremendously under his leadership. This, coupled with Geely’s superior financial strength and technology, should significantly brighten Proton’s future prospects.

The appointments in Geely and DRB-Hicom — Li Chunrong heading an international team to revitalize Proton and expand Geely’s market share in Asean, and DRB-Hicom’s managing director Syed Faisal Albar continuing to lead Proton Holding — promise a formidable team that will advance steadily towards the company’s objectives. There are good prospects Proton will strike an account balance within three years and become profitable in ten years’ time.

Our automobile industry cannot thrive on the support from the local market alone; going international is a must for Proton. Cooperation with international partners as well as improved technology, product quality and branding will ensure the company’s sustained development.