Thursday, August 10, 2006


Proton 88 drive Thais crazy .. The new management of Proton, still witching and bitching about past excesses, may have launched a succesful bid to outdo all its predecessors combined!

For the Satria Neo promo, Syed Zainal Abidin and company wanted a grand 5-day, 2,000km media drive to Thailand's steamy tourist destinations of Hatyai and Phuket.

16 motoring journalists were chosen. But in the end, 72 others went along (24 cars, others were flown in and flown out). Total: 88.

The Chinese believe fart-fart is super-lucky but my sources were bewitched by the size of the non-media delegation on the media drive. One said, while making a farting sound, that the trip seemed more like a familiarisation trip of Hatyai and Phuket for the members of the new Proton team instead of for the media.

In the meantime, employees back at the plant have been told that there will be no more overtime allowances for them, a cost-cutting measure to make Proton leaner and fitter.

Morale is low. Tersungkur.


  1. Oy vey!


    Damn. Why didn't I abuse my position as a two-bit journalist and get free trips to Thailand when I had the chance? Why? Why? Why?

  2. Anonymous5:56 pm

    promotional activities such as this is nothing new. i remember a big group of journalists being brought to lotus in the uk in the past just to visit the factory and attend the goodwood fesival of speed. the same practice too for other car manufacturers/ all boils down to a question of how much is spent, the return of investment, and the objective that the company wants to achieve.
    and when it involves trips such as these, i doubt those who are not involved will be asked to come on a free ride as in the end, all expenses must be accounted for. they wouldn't dare as this is something that is pretty easy to check and besides, everything would have been budgeted for much earlier.
    as for proton, i believe trips such as this do not and have never come very often, unlike the practice of some local car distributors who take journalists to big international autoshows around the world every year.
    besides, it's not like your're throwing away millions of ringgit -no where near i believe.
    speaking to those who did go on the trip, i was informed of the following:
    1. it was indeed a good drive. at least they came to appreciate and are in a better position to evaluate the satria neo's performance - something that you wouldn't normally be able to do under normal test drive circumstances.
    2. the destination chosen may invite plenty of criticsms in view of thailand being an "entertainment" destination but what the participants did after official working hours were really entire up to them. and there was a significant amount of driving and evaluating the car involved. they pretty much agreed it was a good working-holiday combination. entertaining sure, but a god degree of work involved too. this will be very easy to verify later -just track if the articles appear in the 16 publications that were invited for the trip.

  3. Anonymous6:02 pm

    good of proton to have organised the trip.
    why dwell too much on the past doings and issues when what the company really needs is to move forward.
    i suppose the drive for journalists is a way of boosting their confidence level about the new car.
    what i know is that the group also included non-motoring journalists (news, business, features, etc) to generate better exposure for the car. Being a journalist, we all know that on most occasions, trips such as these will only go to the motoring boys.

  4. Anonymous6:27 pm

    i was on the trip.
    believe me nothing was grand about it except for the gala dinner in phuket and the superb accommodation there. fireworks too man, and boy, were the tourists in phuket amazed. i was later told the fireworks was sponsored by the hotel. the hotel eben sponsored a three night stay to the winner of a lucky draw at its executive suite.
    the hotel in hatyai was normal - nothing fancy. lunch was at the roadside restaurant or by the rest area along the highway. dinner was at a normal restaurant. a great deal of driving involved so much so we usually arrived at our destination when all the shops were beginning to close therefore very limited shopping involved.
    i would say proton was a good host - they didnt appear lavish in their spending but still, there was a great deal of enjoyment and class to the trip. simple and sweet with a lot of emphasis on driving!
    and being proton, we did not experience the late night drinking sessions where companies who invite us would normally generously pick up the tab.
    what i appreciated most - the driving, blasting down the highway in excess of 200km/h both in malaysia and in thailand. bila lagi? frankly, i'm quite surprised the satria could get up to this speed and handle superbly.
    i for one, would support having more driving adventure/trips such as this.

  5. Anonymous6:33 pm

    to reply to amir's comments...

    not all, especially the real journalists, are freeloaders and we do not ever abuse our position to ask for trips.
    never expect door gifts. and if the host runs out of door gifts, do not insist on one. if they are sincere they will send you one later. besides, you are there to cover a story - not to collect your free gift.
    pertahankan maruah anda sebagai seorang wartawan.
    it is thinking like this that brings down the profession.

  6. Anonymous9:56 am

    The 2000 kilometer test drive to Thailand is okay. I have no problem with that .I hope all the journalists will have a nice trip. But why not also try Satria Neo for a 2000 kilometer test drive from Semantan in Sarawak to Tawau in Sabah. The Semantan/Tawau road is not as good as Malaysia/Thailand. But this will sure and definately a true test of the quality of Satria Neo. After the Sematan/Tawau drive than Syed Zainal can examine what need to be done to improve Satria Neo and Proton. Then Proton also can give feedback to Datuk Seri Samy Vellu on the condition of roads in Sabah and Sarawak . I am a supporter of Proton and love when seeing Datuk Samy whenever he is on TV.

  7. Anonymous11:03 am

    I'm wondering what's your beef with Syed Zainal's team Rocky? I'm not condoning excesses, but without evidence, who are we to say that the 88 was an excess? And even if it was 101, it may not be an excess; if the goal was to reward journos for their support before, and the journo's bosses approve, apa salahnya?
    Maybe since you're not mainstream anymore, you're feeling left out bro?

  8. Anonymous11:36 am

    hey bru! aren't u & azlan the prot chairman pals from way back? dia lupa kawan kah? ho ho.

    anyway, i see yr point about low morale. inexperience managers like that - they take the susu from the anak and give it to the kera di hutan.

    i pun support proton tapi at a time when u tell our friends in the production line and the junior execs that they must pay for the sins of the prince mahaleel from kelantant, it is not a very clever thing to turn around and spend good money - those workers' ot allowances! - on a trip to phuket or wherever. got tiger show there or not is not the point .. the point is you said you want to cut cost.

    and 88 is too much lah. ho ho. proton should ask bru to do a correction.

    was it just 80?

    why not take the whole of proton there .. plus the factor as well?

  9. Anonymous11:48 am

    frankly,i dont see anything wrong with the trip.
    yes sarawak is fine but that would have involved shipping the cars there - lagi mahal i believe.
    as for promotional expenses versus staff overtime, one has nothing to do with the other. the objective of a promotional exercise is to boost sales, thus increasing revenue and profits which in turn puts the company in better shape hopefully later translating into better benefits for the staff.
    as mentioned in previous postings by others, such trips are nothing new and are designed with a purpose - not just to go on a holiday. believe me, when it involves a big company, their money and inviting outsiders, it's never a holiday. there are no more free rides today - not even for journalists.

  10. Anonymous12:23 pm

    yang kita dok menjelajah celah2 negeri Siam ni, apa kena? orang siam suka kat neo ke (neo ni apa nama?) sampai kita kena hantar rombongan macam nak bagi bunga emas? atau kita yang suka orang Siam, kot?

  11. Anonymous2:07 pm

    well, i was on the trip and I should have to say that it was a bit of a kelam kabut. Lunch was at 4pm, imagine those who are suffering from gastric.

    There were not so many motoring journalists (at least not all were invited), but there were a few lifestyle writers and a bunch of anal-lysts.

    I have a few comments.

    1- One of the analy-lysts has proven to me that some analysts have zero knowledge about the industry.

    2- One female anal-lyst drove like a maniac, macam orang mati laki, many times she nearly missed a crash with other participants and Proton staffers were either to scared to tegur her or thiough that she was cute enough and did not deserve to be commented upon. Nobody asked us about our driving skills and certainly not all have the skill to get out of shit when doing a convoy at 160k/h and above. We were lucky we arrived in one piece.

    3. Whoever told the Neo Team to chop off one inch from the ceiling is a moron. No thanks to him, tall people like many of us have to drive with our eyesight just below the rooflining. I thought he knew about cars, apparently he wanted the whole big company to build cars solely for him, and expect everybody else must drive according to his preferences. Like that ah, no need focus group no need R&D lor.

    And finally, I heard the Group Purchasing execs are trying to ask vendors to cut their fees for projects which have been signed, aproved and even executed. Dey, siapa ajar buat business macam ni la. Project sudah buat la dey, habis kami mau makan apa?

    And finally, Proton staffers need to buck up. They work like gomen la..pathetic!!!!

  12. Anonymous2:09 pm

    siam sebab proton punya boss baru kata dia nak start jual proton kat Siam laaa.

  13. Anonymous1:37 am

    well, I dont see anything wrong taking people/journalist for free trips.

    I remembered some months ago a local distributor of bikes (not car, mind you) that sells maybe about what 100 bikes a year? took selected few journalist for test rides and a visit to the factory - all the way to i-ta-lee...

    uhh.. forgot...the journalist was you rockybru..! I guess morale must be low for you at that time - sampai tersungkur after few months...

  14. Anonymous1:02 pm


    the point is, proton can carry out as many promotional activites as they want if 1. they have the money and 2. and if it is not at the expense of anything else or anyone (read:staff/employees).

    so, if staff morale is low...then, that isnt right-lah.

    waah...people whacking you, huh, bro. and these people surely know you. but one thing about the commentators here-- they sound professional.. a little bit personal here and there (parts whr they touched on you/yr time as mainstream journalist/the fringe benefits you got) but generally not malicious.
    except, tell me, bro.... yr italian stint for that motorbike junket -- a fair analogy?

  15. hey protonbabe, the aprilia trip to italy? yes, that happened, and i wrote about how good it was.

    italy is the home of aprilia (and ducati and mv agusta); in short, it's home to some of the most exotic names in bikes (even after we've sold one for 1 euro!) as well as cars.

    thailand is not the home of proton; therefore, i believe the analogy is not quite on the dot.

    as for my not being in the mainstream media, anon probably does not know that most motoring journalists don't belong to "mainstream" media. they write for magazines and are proud of the fact.

    thank you.

  16. Anonymous3:56 pm

    Camne sampai 88??!??

    But all said and done, I still say that Proton are miserly with these kind of trips, both in number and in execution. How many of these can you recall?

    Even if it were 88 participants and hangers-on in total, the total cost would still only be a shade of flying 5 or 6 journos via business class to Europe, and that's not taking into account accomodation and miscellaneous costs yet!

    Business class gi Europe busuk busuk pun dah kat sepuloh ribu, beb!

    In that regards, I would say Proton are smarter at spending their money. 16 journos plus 16 BAs will get you a helluva lot more publicity than flying 5 or 6 to Europe.

    And since the point, and accusation here, is excessiveness, I think the argument that Italy is the home of whatever bike co. is moot when you consider the objective of these two exercises.

    A motor journo's job is to test the vehicle, not the home country. If the intention is sincere, test kat Bkt. Tinggi pun jadi dah!

  17. test an italian bike at bukit tinggi?! test mv agusta at bukit tinggi?!

    ah, anon. thanks for making that point for me. proton under the last management did bring some test riders up to bukit tinggi and cameron highland to test the brutale and the husky. it was a good trip, and the brutale was brutal, man.

    it would have been better (for the riders) if we had been taken to italy. or phuket and hatyai, for that matter. but if they had taken 16 riders and 50 of their own staff, that wont be right .. i would personally have told them.

  18. Anonymous1:18 pm

    I concede the point that perhaps the number of 'support' personnel might have been excessive. I put this down to inexperience rather than anything more insidious as insinuated. A lot of the support vehicles and personnel were never called into action, so if Proton are guilty of anything in this instance, it's piss poor planning.

    I still stand by my point that most of these foreign junkets are a plain waste of resources, which is what leads to accusations of honey-trips in the first place. Unless it's a super exotic and/or super expensive vehicle that would be too prohibitive to reg, just do the test drive program here.

    We have enough A and B roads to more than sufficiently test any vehicle realistically. If itu pun tak cukup, Sepang sedia menanti.

  19. Anonymous6:45 pm


    you de man!!!!