Malaysian automotive company Proton Holdings Bhd recently announced that former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has agreed to be the chairman of the company. The appointment came into effect on 16th May 2014 where he will be taking over from outgoing executive chairman Tan Sri Mohd Khamil Jamil.

Dr Mahathir will be assuming the chairman role of Group Lotus Plc which is a subsidiary of the national carmaker’s company. Khamil, who is the group Managing Director of DRB-Hicom Group will remain on the board of Proton where he believes that Dr Mahathir’s experience and knowledge of the industry will spur Porton to greater heights after many years of underperformance.

It has often been said and perceived that Proton was one of the brainchild of Dr Mahathir. He was instrumental in establishing the company to propel Malaysia’s venture into the automotive business when he was in office, producing affordable vehicles for Malaysians and other markets.

Dr Mahathir said that Proton is in talks with several Japanese carmakers on future collaborations after the success of projects with Mitsubishi and more recently Honda. He said that Proton is considering pushing to export its cars to other markets and that the plan is to look at other brands apart from Mitsubishi. As such, any new collaboration with Mitsubishi would most be unlikely. He added that Proton is inviting Japanese carmakers to Malaysia where they can consider Kedah in which an automotive hub is being planned and will be developed in the near future.