Malaysian Automaker Proton Shakeup at Top Continues

Syed Faisal Albar, group managing director of Proton parent DRB-Hicom, replaces Mahathir Mohamad, the country’s prime minister from 1981-2003 who resigned March 30. Faisal also becomes chairman of Group Lotus.

Alan Harman, Correspondent

May 6, 2016

2 Min Read
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Saga top-selling model for struggling Proton.

Troubled Malaysian automaker Proton turns to its parent company for its new non-executive chairman.

Syed Faisal Albar, group managing director-DRB-Hicom immediately replaces Mahathir Mohamad, the country’s prime minister from 1981-2003 who resigned March 30. Faisal also becomes chairman of Group Lotus.

Proton says Faisal has extensive corporate experience in various industries, including working at consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers, as CEO of The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia), group managing director of Pos Malaysia, executive director of Konsortium Logistik and CEO of Gas Malaysia.

“His experience and proven track record in growing revenue and profitability will be especially advantageous to Proton, which is currently undergoing a turnaround in its business,” the automaker says.

Regarding Mahathir, the company said in a statement at the time of his resignation: “We respect his wish to step down. We would like to register our utmost appreciation for his valuable contribution, commitment and dedication for his role as chairman since 2014 as well as an advisor since 2003.”

The 90-year-old Mohamad oversaw the 1983 establishment of Proton as a joint venture between the Malaysian government and Japanese automaker Mitsubishi.

Mahathir is on the outs with the Malaysian government in a dispute that even has seen him lose the police traffic escort he had as an ex-prime minister.

In a recent blog entry, Mahathir says he resigned because of Proton’s apparent conflicts with the government.

“I was not expelled by the Proton management or owners,” he wrote. “I decided on my own (that) for the sake of Proton I should leave. This is because Proton seems to be having difficulties with the government and for some unknown reason, sales of Proton cars have plummeted.

“I know I am persona non grata with the government. I do not want to be the cause of Proton’s inability to recover because of my presence.”

A little more than two weeks after Mahathir’s resignation, International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed announced the government was lending Proton 1.5 billion ringgit ($384 million) so it could pay its vendors for components.

In return, Proton was required to come up with a business revival plan that includes seeking a strategic foreign partner.

The change of chairman is a continuation of a corporate reshuffle that saw Proton also look to DRB-Hicom when it named Ahmad Fuaad Kenali as CEO and Radzaif Mohamed as deputy CEO.

About the Author(s)

Alan Harman

Correspondent, WardsAuto

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