Prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has dismissed concerns of Khazanah Nasional’s wholly-owned subsidiary SilTerra’s involvement in the upcoming new national car project (NNCP) as an indicator that public funds would be used to fund the endeavour.

In a report by Bernama, the premiere responded to MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong’s statement that SilTerra’s involvement represents a backtrack on the government’s promise not to involve public funds with the project, and that only the private sector would provide financial backing.

“Khazanah is not (the) government, it is a company and they are quite free to do business. If there is a company in Khazanah that is interested (to participate in the project), they can invest,” said Mahathir during a press conference after chairing Pakatan Harapan’s presidential council meeting recently.

SilTerra is a Malaysian semiconductor manufacturer founded in November 1995 and was formerly known as Wafer Technology prior to a name change in 1999. Headquartered in Kulim, Kedah, the company is also responsible for high technology investments in the country, and has served many top-tier global fabless design and product companies involved in consumer electronics, communications and computing, and mobile devices.

The company’s name was brought up during a media briefing on the project yesterday, whereby entrepreneur development minister Mohd Redzuan Yusof said, “we are now shortlisting two to three partners to participate in this project, including SilTerra and CTRM, and expect things to be concluded by year-end.”

We were also told then that the vehicle originating from the NNCP will make its debut in 2020, and come packed with quite a bit of technology, including semi-autonomous capabilities, advanced safety features, connected services and hybrid powertrains. A prototype is expected to be revealed in early 2019, ahead of an official name drop later this year.