In response to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s comments of Proton’s equity potentially being sold to China’s Zhejiang Geely, tourism and culture minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz has labelled the national carmaker a “failed, white elephant project.”

In a report by NST, he said the company’s lack of success has burdened the government, and it could no longer receive further support. “The project is a failure. They are asking us (government) for money. All the time, billions of ringgit. How can it (the project) be successful if every year, you keep coming back to the government for money,” he said.

“This project to me is a white elephant project. We inherited it from him (Tun M) and if it goes down, then he will blame us (saying) that we have failed,” he continued, adding that the sale of some of Proton’s equity would help overcome the losses faced by the carmaker currently.

“We have to find ways on how to save this and by the Chinese (company) taking up some equities, I think it is a good deal. We had to carry his burden and we cannot afford to support this company anymore. One of the ways to overcome this is to sell the equity. So, the failure is not ours (the government), but his pet project,” Nazri said.

Proton had previously stated it will announce its new foreign strategic partner by the first half of 2017 (1H2017). Reports currently place France’s PSA Groupe and Geely as leading parties for the deal, where both have submitted their respective proposals.