Malaysian man who coined the name Proton Saga for the country's first national car dies aged 71

SUNGAI PETANI - A Malaysian man who coined the name Proton Saga for the country's first national car more than three decades ago died on Friday (Jan 12) at the age of 71, Bernama reported.

Ismail Jaafar, 71, died at his home in Kedah at about 3.10pm after succumbing to medical complications a day after being discharged from hospital.

He is survived by his wife and their three children.

The retired Army staff sergeant had suffered from heart disease, kidney problems and diabetes, his son Mohd Sariffuddin said.

His last posting was as a chief clerk at the army's Service Corps Training Centre in Taiping, Perak.

The 46-year-old said his father's health had deteriorated since late last year and his father had often sought medical treatment.

Ismail, then a retiree, had made a name for himself in Malaysia in 1985 after winning a competition organised by national carmaker Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional (Proton) to name its first model.

The name he coined for the 1,300cc sedan model was chosen from 102,823 entries.

The car, which became a source of national pride, was launched September that year by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad as part of his push for industrialisation.

Since last year, Proton has been partly owned by Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holdings Group after it signed a deal with Malaysian conglomerate DRB-Hicom for RM460.3 million (S$150 million).