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    Monday, November 17, 2003

    I was reading some reports and updates on Proton. Yes, that local car company that has made parking lots look like Proton showrooms. I say this because it baffles and infuriates me that a company like Proton, with all its access, its strategic position and opportunities before it, it still manages to suck so much ass in every possible way.
    Consider this. With the upcoming effects of AFTA, EON, the national distributor for Proton estimates a 40% drop in Proton car sales over the next year. As such, EON will be distributing Mazda cars in order to maintain revenues.
    Because of AFTA, many expect prices of imported cars to go down since taxes will be reduced. However, leave it to the Minister of International Trade, Rafidah Aziz to highlight the stupidity of a race and nation, to insist that prices will remain the same because the government will find some other way to tax them. How clever.
    However you slice and dice this, it only points to one simple fact. Proton is not a good company with poor management.
    Check this out.
    After the second world war, Honda first made motorcycles. Then they moved to cars. The first Civic was introduced in 1972.
    Proton rolled out the Proton Saga, its first car in 1985.
    Granted, Honda had a head start of about 15 years. However, Honda started from scratch and Proton had the technology from Mitsubishi. (Well, sort of...even if it means slapping the Proton logo on a Mitsubishi Lancer.) But perhaps Honda had one advantage over Malaysia: They were Japanese. But what’s the score today?
    Allow me to present Exhibit A.

    Now, check out the pride of our nation.

    And still no airbags. Makes you want to run out and wave the flag, doesn’t it?
    While I am still on my soapbox, let me be the first to ask, what’s up with that logo?

    Proton is profitable, in the same way why Telekom is profitable. It profits from its near-monopoly position in the market place where competitors are priced out of the market. But how long do they really think they can get away with this?
    In the coming years, I expect Proton to continue to lower its prices in order to compete. And in order to maintain it’s profitability, it will cut back and compromise on the quality of its components. Where air-bags in most import models are becoming standard features, I predict that the car stereo, alarm, and air-conditioner will be options for Proton vehicles in the near future.
    It breaks my heart to see the vision of the former Prime Minister being soiled. I’d imagine he would have expected Proton to be what Hyundai is today. Or at least Kia and not the current state which I’d imagine what Daewoo was before it went away.

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