Ex-Malaysia prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad wants Proton to lead the way forward in realising the country’s vision of becoming a developed country by 2020.

The former prime minister, in his first visit to Proton in more than four and a half years, said yesterday he believed that Proton would continue to recover and it would once again be an economic force, Malaysia’s Business Times reported.

In his address Dr Mahathir expressed happiness at coming back and shared fond reminiscences of developments since the first car rolled out of the factory in 1985.

“Not many industries can last this long. If there is understanding between the management and the employees, I believe the industry will continue to flourish. This was the country’s hope when this industry was first established,” he said.

Dr Mahathir also announced a half-month bonus for Proton staff to celebrate Hari Raya.

He said that Proton must remain on its track of excellence to become the main contributor in propelling the country towards developed nation status by 2020.

“Money is not the yardstick in becoming a developed country. A developed country must have expertise in all fields, including industry, and I am confident if we concentrate our efforts, cooperate and place importance on our workmanship, we will become a developed country by 2020,” he said.