Proton Managing Director Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohd Tahir gave some insights on his first steps to turn around loss-making Proton when his appointment as Proton MD takes effect on January 1 2006 for a 3-year period contract.

Syed Zainal had this to say:

“I believe in Proton with a passion and it is this passion that will drive us to make a greater push into selected export markets, while at home we will work doubly hard to defend Protons standing in the domestic market as Malaysias number one brand. We cannot be complacent like what we have done before. We really have to rejuvenate and go forward, and that means a lot of hard work. The basic housekeeping must be done. We have to have teamwork and be transparent.”

Proton’s new ‘team’ consisted of Syed Zainal as MD (3rd from left), Datuk Kisai Rahmat as executive director for engineering (right-most), Datuk Kamarulzaman Darus as director of manufacturing (left-most) and Datuk Azlan, chairman (2nd from left). Datuk Kamarulzaman and Datuk Kisai Rahmat were previously joint Chief Operating Officers taking care of Proton while it was still searching for it’s new top executive.

Syed Zainal indicated that some painful changes were about to happen, but more of mindset rather than lay-offs or pay cuts which would kill staff morale. Syed also said the approach to vehicle design would go back to the basics, focusing on practicality and affordability. That’s very different from the sporty focused Mazda-style sedans that Proton is producing now.

I hope Syed, together with the manufacturing head Datuk Kamarulzaman will ‘search and destroy’ any bad vendors in the Proton supply chain. After all, they’re part of the ‘Proton Team’ which has to go through a mindset change.