Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin, the Domestic Trade, Coopertives and Consumerism minister (KPDNKK) has said that Proton will not be affected by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s resignation from the company as its chairman. His comments were reported by The Star.

“The company is run by the management and the board members. So it doesn’t matter who is chairman,” Hamzah said. “Maybe he has realised that it is time for him to let go of the post to someone else.”

When asked if new leadership at Proton could change the public’s often negative view of the company, Hamzah said that it could go both ways. “Those in Proton think it is good for the company,” he claimed. The minister concluded by saying that, politically influenced or not, it was Tun Dr Mahathir’s right to leave.

Yesterday evening, Proton announced that its chairman, Tun Dr Mahathir, had resigned from his post with immediate effect. It was said that the former PM had sent his resignation letter to Datuk Seri Syed Faisal Albar, DRB-Hicom group managing director.

“We respect his wish to step down; we would like to register our utmost appreciation for his valuable contribution, commitment and dedication for his role as Chairman since 2014 as well as an Advisor since 2003,” read the Proton statement. “We would like to express our gratitude and recognise Tun Dr Mahathir’s role as the creator of the national car company.”

It remains unclear whether this sudden move is related to the revelations reported by The Straits Times last week. The Singaporean publication stated that Mahathir’s political feud with prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak may be inadvertently affecting Proton’s bid to secure an urgent and much needed RM1.5 billion grant from the government.