By now, there should be no doubting how serious the new government is with the third national car plan – they’re pushing on, regardless of the rakyat’s sentiment on the matter. A reader alerted us to a page on the website of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), inviting proposals for the new national car project.

“The Malaysian automotive industry is an important and strategic part of our manufacturing sector. Automotive industry is vital for the country’s growth and a new national car project would boost Malaysia’s engineering and technological capabilities. The overall automotive industry and related sectors employs more than 700,000 people and contributes almost 4% to Malaysia’s GDP. With more than 25 manufacturing and assembly plants as well as experienced component producers, Malaysia is set to embark on the new national car project,” MITI explains.

“The project should not be limited to the development of manufacturing capabilities. It should be viewed holistically to include the entire value chain and the ecosystem that makes up the automotive industry. It needs to place emphasis on the development of research and development (R&D), new trends and technologies and further spur the growth of the automotive industry in Malaysia as well as other ASEAN member states,” the invite read.

Click to enlarge

As previously stressed by the government, the new national car project will be a private sector initiative, and will not use public funds. The government will act as a facilitator. “The new national car project proposal has to be fully private sector driven with support from the government in terms of facilitation and assistance based on the companies’ commitments,” MITI said.

In August, prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that Malaysia will be seeking assistance from Japanese automakers such as Nissan and Toyota, but we’re now hearing from Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT, an agency under the PM’s department tasked to lead the new national car project) that it will be an all-Malaysian effort.

UPDATE: Details on the new national car project from MIGHT, here.

“The government feels the need to acquire engineering capability which means that we have to produce and manufacture for ourselves so that goods can be sold to other countries, where there can be an inflow of money. Outflow of money is very bad for the country, that’s the government way of thinking,” Mahathir said last month, urging Malaysians to look at countries like Japan, South Korea and China as examples.

In any case, MITI’s invitation for proposals seem like a formality, while various parties within the government are already formalising plans and pulling the strings. This one isn’t going away, that’s for sure.