Government’s aid to Proton not a bailout

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak has said that the financial support granted to Proton Holdings Bhd is not a bailout as the RM1.5 billion loan came with strong conditions.

“But the urgent need for the cash injection laid bare the fact that there are serious structural flaws within Proton,” he said at the launch of new Perdana model here yesterday.

Najib admitted that there has been too much political interference in Proton’s strategy and management, including of personnel and business model.

“Now, I am pleased to say, there have been significant changes at the top levels of Proton. Tun Mahathir’s era of political interference has come to an end,” he said, adding that the launch of the new Perdana is expected to be a turning point for Proton.

Since its establishment in 1983, Najib said Proton has received close to RM14 billion in grants, various forms of assistance, as well as taxes forgone.

He said Proton must prove itself both in the domestic and international markets.

“Ultimately, Proton must build up a strong export programme and become less reliant on Malaysian buyers,” Najib added.

Najib also said that a newly-formed special task force, which is headed by Performance Management and Delivery Unit’s Datuk Seri Idris Jala, had been set up to identify a strategic foreign partner and monitor Proton’s turnaround process. – by Lee Weng Khuen