Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Lets Not Be So Cynical Of The New National Car La Rafizi... And Others!

I note with bemusement Rafizi's continued projection of himself as Tun Dr M's governments' chief critic on behalf of 'the Rakyat'. I am amused as this coincides with his contesting for the Deputy Presidency of PKR against incumbent DS Azmin Ali, a senior Minister on the same government. In such a scenario, one must question Rafizi's true motives.

Rafizi of course is in this position due to his first declining to then being disqualified (or expected to be disqualified?) from contesting due to his AMLA case. He formed and ran Invoke instead to assist PH's campaign. He hence now is one of the most senior PH leaders without a role in government. This is not really that awkward as even incoming (?) PKR President and 'Ketua Umum' PH, Anwar Ibrahim himself, is without a post.

In his most recent critique, Rafizi chose to question the wisdom of Tun Dr M's government's New National Car initiative. However, his critique fails to note the repeated pronouncements by the government that it is to be Private Sector driven, hence should not unduly burden the public coffers. He then presents the following suggestions:

1 - That the excise duties for cars currently purportedly protecting our national cars be abolished. This is of course very populist, but surprisingly shortsighted of Rafizi to suggest considering the implications for not just the Proton and Perodua, but also ALL marquees built and assembled in Malaysia, not just now, but also in the context of the coming AFTA.

2 - That all such key decisions be discussed at the PH Presidential Council first - which is of course, very anti-democratic! And of course, its also so inefficient! Should I then also table to the PPBM (Bersatu) Supreme Council that we pass a motion to support the New National Car initiative? Actually sounds a little nuts... like UMNO nuts! Hey!

The last I remember, the nation did not vote for the PH Presidential Council to govern Malaysia, we voted for the majority of PH MPs to be chosen on a platform of having Tun Dr M as Prime Minister. Tun Dr M was then duly chosen by the majority of MPs to be sworn in as PM.

If Rafizi finds the notion of New National Car so objectionable, he should of course voice out, but please don't make PH seem so anti-democratic! Why not have PKR Parliamentarians raise it in the last session or indeed ask DS Azmin Ali as Economic Affairs Minister or even DPM DS Dr Wan Azizah raise objections in cabinet? Isn't that how its supposed to work now PH is in power?

New National Car... Really?

Now back to the New National Car initiative, much of the reaction to it so far has been very knee-jerk. Malaysian complain about Proton and laud Perodua, forgetting both are national cars and Perodua could not have happened without Proton, and that a growing overseas manufacturer, Geely, saw enough value to buy some 49+% of Proton... their acquisitions before including Volvo.

More importantly, Malaysians that are against the New National Car, including Rafizi, have been too cynical to ask the proper questions and hence have also not listened sufficiently to the answers given. Why are we pursuing the New National Car? Many also have not reflected on what we gained from the original National Car project.

Just as with the original National Car project, the New will allow Malaysia to participate in an areas of high technology and industry currently less present on our shores, that will hence bring new manufacturing, technology and other associated economic activities to the country. This means jobs and an opportunity to invest as well as grow the economy away from the current status-quo, but with a twist.

When Proton was mooted, the combustion engine car was pretty much mature as a technology. We were always going to succeed as an assembler, like Thailand has, but Tun demanded more, and we ended up with the capacity to develop enough home-grown content that a higher % of economic activity and critically expertise, from making and assembling cars remained in Malaysia. With it also came a raft of other economic activities associated - such as our capacity of grow our engineering base into making everything from motorbikes to oil & gas platforms.

With the New National Car, we are potentially joining the new technological race for the next generation of automobiles, essentially Electric Vehicles or EV's whether they be Battery (BEV) or Partial-Hybrid (PH-EV). If successful, we will be opening our nation to the development and manufacturing of technologies like Batteries, not just AA's but the Li-Ion though to potential future Solid State Batteries. And that is just the beginning - the ecosystem for EVs are still in development globally. Our full-on participation now will allow us to lead the way for not just our nation, but for ASEAN.

By now I believe readers would know that this New National Car excites me, and it should excite all Malaysians, including Rafizi. If we could only think beyond the shell of cynicism that has grown to shield us Malaysians from the bad news of the BN government of most of our last 2 decades. We are talking of a New Malaysia based on Harapan, Hope. Lets look at the New National Car hence with that same lense of Harapan ...

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