KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 – Proton Holdings Bhd has appointed former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as its chairman effective May 16, 2014. He has also been named chairman of Proton’s subsidiary, Group Lotus plc (Lotus). Dr Mahathir will assume the position from Tan Sri Mohd Khamil Jamil who is stepping down as the executive chairman, but remains on the board of directors of the company. Prior to his appointment as chairman, he had served as advisor of Proton from 2003, and after stepping down as prime minister.

Proton in a statement Wednesday said Dr Mahathir’s determination to see the national carmaker succeed, made it natural for him to step in as chairman, in what would be a new chapter in its journey. “Dr Mahathir will now be able to dedicate more of his time at Proton as chairman. This will certainly continue to strengthen the company in its mission to become a globally recognised automotive player,” chief executive officer Datuk Abdul Harith Abdullah said. Meanwhile, Mohd Khamil said DRB-Hicom Bhd, the parent company of Proton, is honoured by Dr Mahathir’s acceptance to serve as chairman.

Also as the DRB-Hicom group managing director, he described Dr Mahathir as a man with profound experience and knowledge of the industry. “In accepting the position, he has shown a willingness to spend time and effort in taking on the challenges that Proton faces,” he said. Dr Mahathir has been instrumental in the conception and progress of Malaysia’s automotive industry, and his vision, ideas and leadership have guided Proton since its inception in 1983.

The vision was not just to see the dream of a national car materialise but also broaden the economic capacity of the country, particularly in aspects such as acquiring automotive engineering knowledge and modern manufacturing methods, and above all, making car ownership affordable to all Malaysians. Since its inception, Proton has spurred the local automotive manufacturing eco-system, with its engineers now equipped with high levels of engineering skills, to the extent that the company is able to design, build and manufacture cars from the ground up.

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