Govt aiming to have new national auto company: Dr Mahathir

In a statement issued today Wee said that Malaysians would prefer the government to prioritise public transport over another local car company

The proposed East Asia Economic Caucus, which was first mooted by Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1997, would involve not just the Asean member countries, but also others like India and some Central Asian nations.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has expressed his ambition to start a new national vehicle project.

"Yes, I am still in favor of EAEC", he said.

Dr Mahathir was sworn in as prime minister for the second time last month after leading his Pakatan Harapan coalition to a stunning May 9 election victory. "In the past, of course, we were not able to do this due to the objections of America, but now America seems to become isolationist again so it is not in a position to demand that we can not form EAEC", he said.

His decision to visit Japan first was seen by some analysts as an example of the government's desire to put some distance between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing.

The new Government aims to have a new national auto company now that Proton has been bought over by China's Geely.

Mahathir did not make any reference to the 1MDB investigations.

Speaking at a news conference, Mahathir referred to the Chinese investments and projects during the Najib era which he believes will leave Malaysians with billions of dollars in debt.

"As individual (countries) we can't hope to convince China of anything".

At a separate dialogue with foreign correspondents at Japan's National Press Club, Dr Mahathir said in the 20-over years that Malaysia has worked with Mitsubishi Motor Corp, it has acquired most of the skills and technology with regards to the design and production of a new auto. He pointed out that Proton, which he launched, was no longer a national auto.

State-owned Proton was founded in 1983 during an industrialization push in Mahathir's first term.

"Our ambition is to start another national vehicle, perhaps with the help of partners from Southeast Asia like Thailand, Japan or Korea, as they have the capacity to produce good quality cars sellable in the world market".

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