Q1: Why are you lobbying for MV Agusta right now after it has been sold?
A1: Here, we are trying to clarify our (me and former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s) positions because the inference is that we made a bad decision (in the purchase). When we purchased Agusta, people were asking why we bought (in the first place).
Q2: You are saying this to clarify your connections (to the Agusta purchase), not to question Proton’s decision (to sell)?
A2: Proton can do whatever they want. It has nothing to with me anymore. Many people in the market are saying, the papers are (also) saying that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad made that decision (to buy), I made that decision (to buy), we were the key people.
Q3: With this, how do you see the future of Proton (after the Agusta sale)?
A3: We can make another press conference on this. Today, we concentrate on this (sale of Agusta). I know all the strategic plans because I wrote them.
Q4: Maybe you want to comment on Mitsubishi (having renewed its partnership with Proton)?
Q5: At that time when you considered purchasing MV Agusta, did you have discussions with Tun (Dr Mahathir)?
A5: It is (about) the pros and cons why (Proton) we need to diversify (and) why we need to (go) downstream.
Q6: Did he share his opinion?
A6: As the advisor, he saw the dangers that Proton was facing and he knew both the parties and all the papers (related to the Agusta purchase) were given to the board.
Q7: His view then; was it worth the risk?
A7: He even went to see MV Agusta.
Q8: I think the process of buying MV Agusta started in 2002, when Tun was still PM?
A8: At that time we did not put in to him yet.
Q9: A motorcycle magazine has described the squabble over the sale of Agusta as not very good.
A9: It is not very good for Malaysia. If you look at Proton’s stock price today, what is it trying to tell you? When I left, they all said ”Oh, it went up to RM9, very good.” During my time it (hovered) between RM7 and RM7.50. Now it’s RM5 something. I think the business world realises this and has make a judgement on this.
Q10: What is your next recourse?
A10: The important thing is we want to clarify (our positions). First ourselves. We have been judged and sort of inferred to as being party to this (transaction) that made the bad decision. Because we asked for the reason (for the sale), because this is of national interest. I think it is very important for the public to know this, the real reason to the process (for the sale). We will see how they (Proton) respond. The public needs to know.
Q11: You showed all the charts of Agusta’s presence worldwide. Was it your thought to use this to sell Proton?
A11: Oh yes. In fact, the Brazil connection (through Agusta) was to try and get the manufacturing of (Proton) there. And the US distribution (channel) was a piggyback (ride) for Proton and Lotus.
Q12: Why did you not make a briefing before the sale of Agusta?
A12: I didn’t know (about the sale). In the context of whether it (the sale) will help or not, the business world itself was surprised at the speed and transparency. Why didn’t (Proton) listen to the shareholders of MV Agusta and its CEO? They were not even allowed (to attend the meeting on the sale). I just want to clear my name. I didn’t know they wanted to sell for I was (already) out of the company.
Q13: Can you comment that shortly, after the sale of Agusta, there was talk in the market that repayment of Agusta’s debts amounting to a large sum was urgently due by November 2005 and if it was not settled, Proton will become liable.
A13: You can always negotiate. The key points of negotiations are whether you are on target. The bank would love to mend (the loan) if you know how to give feedback.
Q14: Agusta probably was not a core asset, maybe because it was not in the car business?
A14: In the context of assets, it is very simple. Are Honda Motorcycles core to Honda, yes or no? Are BMW Motorcycles core to BMW, yes or no? The answer is there, because the core is the process I told you. Honda can make an aeroplane engine. That is core.
Q15: What is the holding stock (unsold stocks) of Proton during your time? Early last year?
A15: I don’t have the figures, I need to check them. Basically, I have warned the board that we were too involved in meetings, which were about 10 meetings in a month. We don’t know what was happening in the market place.
Q16: What about Proton’s holding stocks currently?
A16: I was informed that 30,000 over units, of which 18,000-19,000 were from 2005. It is a whole lot of money, you calculate.
Q17: What is the Lotus profit right now that Proton had bought it? Is it profitable?
A17: I don’t have the latest figures. I think they either break even or are making money now. Their whole programme has to double that volume, that’s when the money comes in. So, that’s why all the engineering has been going on for the last two over years. Their new product is coming out.
Q18: But you do really know if Lotus broke even?
A18: I don’t have (the figures). You need to check with them.