PETALING JAYA - Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s announcement in Tokyo regarding a new national car company has sparked intense discussion among Malaysians, most of whom are strongly against the idea of such a venture.
On the official Facebook page of The Star Online, news stories on the issue saw high levels of engagement, exceeding 450 shares, over 1,600 reactions that spanned from anger to amusement, and more than 1,000 comments debating the matter over the space of eight hours.
A majority of commenters called for more focus on public transport, with some stating a preference for the continuation of the MRT Phase 3 rail transit project.
Rozana Isa found more merit and benefit in having better public transportation systems that are safe, efficient and user-friendly for people of all ages, the marginalised and the differently abled.
“That way, it’s easier for everyone to plan their journey to the MRT/LRT stations, etc.
“Efficiency and a more synergistic network of public transport will suffice,” she added.
Austin Yap also urged the Prime Minister to follow in his own footsteps: “Tun, you went to Japan for Look East Policy. Please observe the public transport in Tokyo.”
Dr Mahathir was speaking during a dialogue at the 24th Nikkei Conference on the Future of Asia yesterday when he said the new government was thinking of starting another national car, perhaps with an Asian country such as Thailand, South Korea or Japan as a partner.
Others, like Gunasagaren Kumarasamy, urged the statesman to focus on the country’s economic situation instead.
“Forget about the cars. Please focus on turning around our debt mountain and economy,” he said.
Instead of making cars, opined Prasnth Ramachandran, the country could foster human capital and create skilled automotive engineers.
“Look at Singapore. They need not be an automobile manufacturer to stand out in the world, yet their economic background is a success story.
“Malaysia can easily be like that, if not better, should we prioritise the essentials and not initiatives that would create a burden to our nation,” he cautioned.
It was also a “no” from Stephen Chua, who pointed out that Thailand has a strong auto industry despite not having a national car.
“I think we have learnt a hard lesson with Proton 1.0, once is more than enough. Collaborate to assemble cars here with input for engineering design – yay. Collaborate to produce – nay,” he added.
However, some Malaysians still voiced their support for the idea, with a fair few advocating for electric cars.
“If he insists on cars, please go full electric. The future is what we should be looking at,” said Haidir Hashim.
For Aiman Abdullah, however, the last thing Malaysia needs is yet another car company.
He suggested: “If the Government is really truly set on another carmaker, perhaps passenger cars ought to be ignored altogether. It’s time to look at electric commercial vehicles, like light-duty trucks and taxis.”