KUALA LUMPUR – February 14, 2018: An association of Malay vehicle traders has been heavily criticised online over its recent statement claiming that the business of its members could not survive without special privileges.
Datuk Zainuddin Abdul Rahman, the president of the Malaysian Association of Malay Vehicle Importers and Traders (Pekema), was quoted by a Bahasa Malaysia daily as claiming that Proton’s move to encourage 1S distributors (sales only) to upgrade to 3S (sales, service and spare parts) will put Bumiputra distributors out of business.
In an apparent reference to the statement, managing editor of automotive portal careta.my Hazeri Shamsuri wrote on his Facebook wall that he was ashamed of the suggestion that Bumiputra businesses could not survive without subsidies.
“Don’t embarrass my race, we are not the face of subsidy. We go by merit, not skin color,” Hazeri wrote.
“Toyota and Honda are striving to upgrade their dealership to 3S centres, the whole world is moving to that direction, so to save a few persons the consumers have to lower their expectations?” he asked.
Without directly naming Zainuddin, Hazeri wrote that he also believes the Pekema president has no actual right to speak on the matter.
“The president of this association has absolutely no Proton dealership. He’s where people go to if they want to know all about the criteria of having an AP (approved permit) licence,” Hazeri wrote.
“If I were to write a story on aeroplanes, will I interview a seller of paddy field tiller?” he added.
When contacted today, Hazeri said he stands by his statement about Zainuddin and Pekema.
According to its website, Pekema is an association which represents Malay automative dealers, especially those involved in the car import market.
It has 212 members, of whom 100 are car AP holders and 45 motorcycle AP holders.
Automotive journalist Daniel Sherman Fernandez, in his article,’Why Is Proton Even Bothering With PEKEMA?’ mentioned about how Proton has always been babysitting its dealers and urged the national carmaker to instead step up the game.
“Only a handful of real business people were Proton dealers and these handful are surviving today without baby-sitting from Proton,” wrote Fernandez.
“For the babies we say get rid of the cry babies, find new partners (there will be real business people now wanting to hold a Proton dealership) and grow the business professionally like all other car brands in Malaysia,” he wrote.
A Twitter user by the name of peniup wisel is also of the opinion that Proton’s dealership should ignore Pekema’s complaints and upgrade its dealership services as not doing so risks losing its business in the future.
“My advice to Pekema, don’t whine, smaller distributors can merge or they can choose to close shop,” he said.
“If they don’t invest in the business and cannot compete, they will eventually close shop anyway,” he added.
Another Twitter user by the name of Tan Joolee questioned Pekema’s sincerity in helping the 1S distributors.
“Apart from lobbying & complaining, what has Pekema done for its members? In all the decades of preferential treatment by Proton, why didn’t they encourage the 1S centres under their umbrella to upgrade to 3S?” she asked.
On Sunday, Zainuddin claimed that Proton’s Bumiputra distributors were facing subtle discrimination and may soon be replaced by non-Bumiputra distributors.
Proton said 1S dealers are encouraged to upgrade within 2018-2020 to compete with others in the market, citing leading non-national automotive companies Honda and Toyota as having 64 per cent of its dealers operate 3S centres while Proton has only 30 per cent.
“Due to the lack of 3S outlets, Proton’s Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) and Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) have suffered compared to other automotive players.
“We are aware of the substantial capital required for the upgrade and are offering upfront support as well as an increased profit margin and on cars sold for up to three years,” said Proton.
Automotive news portal paultan.org has explained in detail Proton’s answer to Pekema’s claims.
Pekema and Proton have yet to respond to The Mole’s questions.
Sources said Proton has up to 20 3S Bumiputra distributors in Malaysia.