Prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has claimed that Proton was not a failure and had achieved much success while it was under good management, according to a report by Bernama.

Speaking at a dialogue session in the United Kingdom recently, the premiere said the national carmaker had at one point accumulated RM4 billion in reserves, allowing it to build a plant in Tanjung Malim without any financial assistance from the government or banks.

He added that Proton was a success until foreign cars were allowed to enter the country without (or with very little) restrictions but Malaysian-made cars were not allowed to be sold in some of these foreign countries due to the conditions imposed on imports.

“It’s all about importing their cars not exporting our cars. And of course, if you don’t export your cars you don’t earn foreign exchange. If you keep buying foreign cars then you will lose a lot of money every year,” he noted.

Focusing on the proposed third national car project, Mahathir stated the government did not have the money to fund the project and will have to request parties in the private sector to get it done. “Then you developed vendors, produce businesses producing parts as there are many (car) parts that will create jobs for the people and a lot of business for small businesses,” he added.

The project has attracted its fair share of proponents as well as detractors, with the former claiming it will help encourage the growth of the country’s economy and engineering capability. It has been previously reported that should a third national car project take off, Japanese carmakers would be roped in to provide assistance.