Proton suspends Terengganu dealer (updated)

Proton suspends Terengganu dealer (updated)

PETALING JAYA: Proton has suspended one of its dealers in Terengganu for allegedly using non-genuine spare parts, overcharging and repairing cars without recording it in the carmaker’s online warranty system.

Proton Holdings Bhd managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed told reporters at a press conference on Sunday that the company would also be cooperating with the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) while conducting its own investigations into the matter.

“If the dealer is implicated in any wrongdoing, we will not hesitate to terminate the dealer’s services,” he said, adding that the dealer worked under EON (Edaran Otomobil Nasional) - one of Proton’s super-dealers.

The national carmaker began its own investigation into the state government’s claims on the high cost of maintaining the 16 Proton Perdana V6 Executive cars previously used by Terengganu executive councillors.

Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said had earlier said that the state had purchased 14 Mercedes E200 Kompressor cars at RM3.43mil to replace its Proton Perdana V6 Executive fleet in a move to “cut cost.”

He said apart from the dealer being suspended, Proton also found that only 35 of the 67 Proton Perdanas bought by the state government were being sent to authorised workshops. It was found that 93% of the RM1,071,669 (cost that was reported in the media) was spent outside of the Proton service system.

"If a car is taken to an unauthorised workshop and non-genuine parts are used, there are bound to be problems. Putting in non-genuine parts only compounds the problem.

“Furthermore, if repairs to a car are done outside the Proton warranty system, there is no way the company would be able to know what is going on.”

Syed Zainal Abidin said preliminary investigations into the matter found that there was overcharging and second hand-parts being sold as genuine parts.

“In some instances there was also ‘over-servicing’ of the car,” he said, adding that the average maintenance cost of a Proton Perdana was RM2,373 per year.

Moving forward, Syed Zainal Abidin said the company would be offering all state governments a free audit of their fleet of Proton cars to determine if they were being properly maintained.

“We may also suggest to the state governments which service branches, and not dealers, they should send their car to for maintenance so this kind of problem can be avoided.”

When asked if other states could be having the same problems, he said it could not be discounted.

Still using Mercs
Meanwhile, Terengganu state executive council members and senior state government officers would continue using the Mercedes cars pending completion of the ACA investigation, Ahmad Said said.

The ACA had taken the Proton Perdana cars that were used by the state executive councillors and officers, he was quoted by Bernama.

“So the executive council members and officers will have to use the Mercedes … the prime minister had also said that (we) can use the Mercedes cars once in a while,” he told reporters at a dinner with state Umno leaders here on Saturday night.

State Tourism and Culture, Arts and Heritage Committee chairman Datuk Za’abar Mohd Adib arrived at the Malaysia Flora Fest 2008 in Johor Baru on Saturday in one of the new Mercedes cars, Bernama said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had earlier said that the Terengganu government could keep the Mercedes Benzes, but only for use by its guests and not for the state exco members and its senior officers.