According to finance minister Lim Guan Eng, a new national car project as suggested by prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad cannot be supported by public funds and must be backed by the private sector instead.

In an interview with Channel NewsAsia, Lim said he had discussed the matter with Mahathir following the prime minister’s return from Japan. “I told the prime minister that we don’t have the money, and he knows it … So it is not from public funds, it’s not like Proton, no,” said Lim.

“If there are private parties who want to do it in Malaysia using their own money, I think that is something that would be worthwhile looking at – but not from public funds,” he added.

Lim also said he believed the idea for a new national car project was provided by a private party but the government has yet to see a proposal so far. Previously, Mahathir stated the government is welcoming proposals for the project and that it will depend on foreign partners initially. He also said a new national car project would help Malaysia boost its engineering capability.

Last week, Khairy Jamaluddin chimed in on the matter, saying a new national car project would be a regressive move after the government put an end to the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit Line 3 (MRT3) project. The politician said a new national car project would also make it more costly for customers who wish to purchase a non-national car due to excise duties that are as high as 105%.