Auto industry: Thailand doing much better than us

I am not in the habit of running down my own country, but the news that said Thailand is the no 1 automotive manufacturing country in Asia got me really quite riled up. And it has been so for the past few years. Malaysia started dabbling in heavy industry way back in early 90s with the formation of Heavy Industry Corporation Malaysia (HICOM) spearheading the auto industry with the emergence of PROTON. On top of that we built a highly sophisticated and the only dual grandstand F1 racetrack in the world to register our intend to be a world beater in automotive industry. We also developed a purpose built town in Tanjong Malim called Proton City to be a major automotive production hub. Going by those effort and history, we should have been the leading automotive industry nation in ASEAN. Somewhere in time Thailand decided not to take the way of building their national car or F1 but develop the automotive industry by enticing world’s major car manufacturers to their back yard in Rayong and taking advantage of AFTA agreement, they have become the automotive giant of ASEAN. Even Indonesia has overtaken us. The impression that I get, our auto industry is in a muddle. Proton is in a protracted battle with Lotus F1 and had teamed up with Renault to race against another Malaysian Lotus team. In the process bleeding millions of rakyat’s ringgit. Petronas, being a O&G giant in the country, saw it fit to sponsor Mercedes instead. Well, you may say what the heck this got to do with the auto industry in this country? Well, F1 is all about auto engineering, the spillover would do a world of good to the automotive industry in this country. If we try to synergize our resources, we could do much better. Of course it is arguable that, manufacturing autos is a world’s apart from F1 racing. Thailand maybe the giant in manufacturing and exports but we are the Goliath in auto engineering, skills and fame. Well if fame can bring food on the table and rise in GDP, I am all for it.


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