Malaysia's flying car plan jets into controversy

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysia plans to launch a flying car, a minister has said, sparking a flood of mockery in a country with a chequered history when it comes to automotive projects.

The prototype of the vehicle, which uses local technology, will be unveiled later this year, said Entrepreneur Development Minister Redzuan Mohamad Yusof, according to state news agency Bernama.

The vehicle costs about one million ringgit (S$331,000) to develop and will fly at low altitudes, he said on Tuesday (Feb 26), without revealing any more details.

Previous car projects in Malaysia have not always met with great success - the country started producing Protons in the 1980s but they are routinely criticised for unimaginative models and shoddy workmanship, and their popularity has steadily fallen.

For many people, the flying car project was just another harebrained scheme cooked up by foolish politicians.

"Words fail me. I have never read so much stupidity in my life," one commentator wrote online.

Aman Shah posted on Facebook: "How come this idiot is selected as a minister? Solve the public transport problem first, instead of inventing flying car."

 
 
 

There have been several attempts around the world to develop flying cars, such as the Transition made by United States firm Terrafugia and the AeroMobil, produced in Slovakia.

Both have taken years and a lot of money to develop, and are yet to go on sale.

Some questioned the wisdom of trying to develop a flying vehicle in Malaysia, with the national car industry already facing problems.

"We cannot even promote hybrid and electric car properly and sell them at affordable price, now talking about flying cars. What a joke," said one comment.

Since returning for a second stint as prime minister, Tun Mahathir Mohamad - who previously championed Proton - has announced plans for a new national car project, triggering widespread criticism.