After Proton, a new Saga III for Malaysia's national car project

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad giving a thumbs up at the launch of the then new model Proton Savvy on June 8, 2005. The Proton national car project, Malaysia's first, was launched by Dr Mahathir in 1983. Perodua, the second national car project, was establi
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad giving a thumbs up at the launch of the then new model Proton Savvy on June 8, 2005. The Proton national car project, Malaysia's first, was launched by Dr Mahathir in 1983. Perodua, the second national car project, was established in 1992. Malaysia is now mulling over a third national car project.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Despite Proton and Perodua, Malaysia wants a third national car project, a move that puzzles experts

One of the most puzzling decisions by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on his return to power three months ago was to propose a new national car despite the failings of his pet project Proton, now de facto controlled by Chinese automaker Geely.

For most Malaysians, the idea of another automobile project evokes memories of faulty power windows and wheezing engines, while huge import duties made foreign cars unaffordable.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 12, 2018, with the headline 'After Proton, Saga III'. Print Edition | Subscribe