BN MPs briefed on Proton

The issue of Proton, its poor track record these past 2-3 years and the affect from the recently announced National Automotive Policy (NAP) still lurks in anyone’s and everyone’s mind, ever so often. The public comprehensive understanding on the issue is relatively low. So, sometime this week, the BN ‘Back Benchers’ Members of Parliament will be specially briefed by Proton by its executives and Khazanah Holding’s.

This is a very good move to enrich the lawmakers representing the rakyat with salient information. But what if the information fed is not actually ‘good’ information? Are they able to tell the difference between accurate and doctored information presented?

Unfortunately, that will be the case in the briefing session. The 60 page report prepared for this briefing session has been “censored” by Khazanah Holding executives and ‘The Fourth Floor Boys’.

It is expected part of the report will contain information about the on going negotiations with automobile giant Volkswagen AG (VW) of Germany. VW has been said to be interested to have minimum controlling shares of Proton (50% + 1 share) in the Proton City Tanjung Malim massive industrial complex and all Proton technology based companies. This means that VW will have the say to determine how many cars with the “Proton” label is allowed to be produced.

The control of Proton’s technology will also mean that VW be able to shortened Proton’s strategic reach, of which will affect and inhibit a lot of local engineers and automotive talents.

The “cheap sale” to VW (the Proton City is being force valued at RM seven billion) can be seen as neutering a “tiger” (the Proton label). Common business acumens should naturally value Proton with some premium, especially Proton did build the assets completely on internal funding and Proton’s impressive track record until the management change over in 2005.

The Proton Chairman Dato’ Azlan Hashim has been described as “afraid” to face the public, such as the MPs. A ‘special function vehicle’ (SPV) is expected to be used for the purpose of this “car boot sale”, a common move when assets are being disposed or a popular buzz word of the season, ‘unbundling’.

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Proton’s current cash position is something left to be desired. When cocky former CEO Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Arief was made to leave Proton a little over two years ago, Proton was cash rich and profitability was still in desirable range. However the situation much different now. Sales nowadays is actually more than half what it was five years ago. Sources within revealed that Proton failed to pay its vendors since December 2006, even though three separate audit were carried out. Of course it is a known fact that few Proton models were ready to be launched were delayed, for unclear reasons.

It looks like what former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad envisaged about Proton’s destruction will come true after all. Those people who wanted to see Proton be run to the ground will eventually get their wishes. An ambitious industrial vision to strategically place Malaysians with high end mechanics, technology and practical engineering abilities and competencies finally coming to a bitter and painfully sad end.

So the very people representing the rakyat will then be fed with ‘doctored’ information and they will continuously be insulated from the real and significant information. Mistakes and poor industrial decisions will be conveniently justified. Especially technical details involving the mechanics of Proton’s operations, track record and growth projections.

And so shall most of us, the rakyat!

Published in: on June 25, 2007 at 10:16  Comments (13)