Proton Engines (5)_resize YAB Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. former Prime Minister of Malaysia, has announced his resignation from his Executive Chairman post at Proton Holdings.

Having been the main advocate of Proton in mid-80s, Tun Mahathir at a ripe old age of 90 apparently had enough of the stewardship of the ailing National carmakers. Tun Mahathir is also leaving his post as chairman of Group Lotus, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Proton.

Tun Mahathir served as Executive Chairman for Proton since 2014, as well as acted as an advisor of the National carmakers since 2003. When DRB-Hicom took over Proton in 2012, Tun was appointed Chairman, in what was seen as DRB-Hicom’s boldest move in its effort to transform Proton’s sliding fortunes. Since going private, DRB-Hicom has been trying to address it’s slide by focusing on radical transformation measures for Proton’s management and the appointment of Tun Mahathir was seen as a coup, given the former Prime Minister’s vast knowledge and influence in the industry and ‎government. The Chairman position at Proton also meant Tun was Chairman of Proton’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Lotus Plc.

At its peak, Proton, which had produced more than 3.5 million vehicles from its plants in Shah Alam, Selangor, and Tanjung Malim, Perak, held up to 85 percent of the domestic car market. But in current times, the National carmakers are just hanging in there. Obviously, a combination of factors including liberalization ‎of the domestic market with the influx of cheap foreign imports, competition from Perodua and the revised National Automotive Policy, among others, contributed towards Proton’s decline.

Apart from his role at Proton, Tun Mahathir has also dropped his post as chancellor of University Teknologi Petronas. Other posts relinquished by the former Malaysian Prime Minister included influential positions at the Langkawi Development Authority (Lada) and Tioman Island Development Authority (Tida).

In a press release, Proton thanked Tun Mahathir for his contributions to the company over the years. “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. We would like to express our gratitude and recognize Tun Dr Mahathir’s role as the creator of the national car company.”

Following his retirement from the political arena in 2004, Tun Mahathir has had many illustrious posts at many flagship Malaysian companies, of course Proton and Petronas immediately comes to mind. Even in post-retirement, Tun has always been in the news; be it political, international affairs or domestic developments.