Despite having previously voiced his objection towards the sale of a stake in Proton to Geely, prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that the new federal government has no plans to buy back the national carmaker, according to a report by The Edge.

The 92-year-old premier said that control of the company no longer rests in the government, but rather in parent company DRB-Hicom and its largest shareholder, Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary. “Proton does not belong to the government. It belongs to Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary.

“It is up to him whether he wants to purchase [back the shares]. The government has no intention to buy back Proton,” Mahathir said. The man was an advisor to Proton before becoming its chairman in 2014, stepping down two years later as the company secured a RM1.5 billion soft loan from the government.

As part of the terms for the loan, DRB-Hicom agreed to sell 49.9% of its stake in Proton to Geely last year, after a year-long search for a foreign strategic partner. Mahathir decried the decision at the time, saying that Proton – which he described as his “child” – could “no longer be national” and its future successes are nothing to be proud of, as it does not “belong to me or my country.”