Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks at an event at a DRB-Hicom complex in Pekan in the eastern state of Pahang, Malaysia, on April 27, 2018, one day ahead of the Nomination Day of the general election. (Xinhua/Zhu Wei)
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Friday highlighted the capacity of China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, saying Geely will help the Malaysian national car brand Proton retain its competitiveness locally and internationally.
Najib made the remarks at a DRB-Hicom complex in Pekan in eastern state of Pahang. The Malaysian conglomerate sold a 49.9-percent stake in Proton to Geely last June.
"Geely is highly advanced and has huge research and development funds up to billions (of U.S. dollars) a year, apart from having large markets for its vehicles," Najib told hundreds of DRB-Hicom employees, adding Geely also owns the Swedish car brand Volvo and a 10 percent stake in German carmaker Mercedes Benz.
"Just imagine the benefits when we become a strategic partner to a company that is strong and solid like that. It's not only a company based in China, but also a multi-national company," he added.
Najib also defended DRB-Hicom's move to sell part of Proton, saying it was a business decision based on Geely's merit and the decision was made by DRB-Hicom and Proton, instead of the government.
During the event, Najib announced a series of generous handouts, including an incentive bonus of 500 ringgit (127.7 U.S. dollars) for each of DRB-Hicom's 60,000 employees.
Proton, which was founded in 1983 by former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, has been under-performing in recent years and relied heavily on government loans to continue its operation.
After Geely bought into Proton, the new management pledged to cut costs and redundancy in order to re-claim Proton's position as Malaysia's best-selling car.