Side Views

Proving Proton — Tay Tian Yan

April 15, 2012

APRIL 15 — Proton will launch a new model next week. Preve is the name.

It took me a lot of effort to find out the origin of this word and its meaning. It is Spanish, meaning “to prove.”

Proton begins to discard the customary local names for heroes, animals and plants and go for a Latin name with an apparent motive: To shed its unrefined country image and move up with the times.

This “B” class 1.6L model targets more than just the domestic market. It aspires to become Proton’s first “world car” that sells all over the world.

Please, show some support for Proton which is obviously no longer happy with just being a “Kampung Champion” (even this is questionable now)

To be a “world car,” Proton needs to be globally competitive in terms of performance, aesthetics, safety and pricing.

My colleague recently went for a test drive and came back to comment that the car is indeed of significantly improved technology although its look remains very much the same.

Compared to existing models of Proton, this one is indeed quite commercially competitive.

Whether Proton can eventually be revived will very much depend on this Preve, but then just as Preve was about to hit the market, an English business daily reported that Proton’s MD Syed Zainal Abidin had tendered his resignation.

The news took the market aback. Proton subsequently clarified that the news was of dubious source and Zainal Abidin was still very much in charge and the company indeed needed his service.

While it appears that the statement has refuted the newspaper report, it nevertheless does not deny that Zainal Abidin has resigned or may resign in the future.

Meanwhile, Preve’s actual conditions continue to leave everyone guessing, and the doubts will not be cleared until its official launch in the market.

Zainal Abidin’s speculated departure could send shock waves across the market. This guy has fixed Proton up and enhanced its operational efficiency during his tenure, and the industry generally gives him a big thumbs-up.

That said, changes in Proton’s senior management are most inevitable now that DRB-Hicom has acquired the company. Chairman Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh has taken the lead to leave and it is within everyone’s expectation that Zainal Abidin will soon follow suit.

As a major government initiative, Proton’s change of guards over the past two decades has reflected the ongoing shifts in the country’s political powers, resulting in inconsistent management and company policies.

Proton must free itself from political intervention if it were to develop steadily in the future. Nothing can prove Proton’s worth save for a highly efficient and professional management team. —

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.