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  • High-Tech Leaders Endorse Multimedia Super Corridor
  • February 24, 1998 (KUALA LUMPUR) -- Malaysia's Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) project was supported by a 25-member advisory panel comprised of heads of leading technology companies from around the world.
    The panel said it was satisfied about the project's progress so far, despite the regional currency turmoil.

    "I am pleased with the concrete progress that has been made. In a very short period of time we see the vision start to take place," said Motorola Inc. chairman Gary Tooker.

    Motorola, which has a 25-year history of manufacturing electronic components in Malaysia, is investing as much as US$15 million in smart-card technology and software development in the MSC.

    Bob Bishop, chairman of Silicon Graphics World Trade Corp., said the MSC could be the catalyst that pulls Malaysia and the region forward from the current economic turmoil.

    Alcatel Alsthom's chairman and chief executive officer Serge Tchuruk said he was impressed by the concept and business plans of the project.

    "I don't know of any government in the world that has such a deep knowledge of information technology," Tchuruk said.

    Other executives present were Lars Ramqvist, president and CEO of Telefonaktiebogalet LM Ericsson; Stan Shih, chairman and CEO of Acer Group; Tadahiro Sekimoto, chairman of NEC Corp.; Les Alberthal, chairman of EDS Corp.; Robert Madge, chairman of Madge Networks Ltd.; Kenichi Ohmae, managing director of Ohmae and Associates; Ben Verwaayen, chief operating officer of Lucent Technologies Inc.; and Jim Manzi, a private investor.

    Malaysia hopes to attract technology companies to invest in the 15km by 50km high-tech zone south of Kuala Lumpur. Among the technologies and multimedia-related products and services in the corridor are electronic government, smart cards, telemedicine, virtual and distance learning and electronic commerce.

    Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said the crisis in the regional financial markets had not hurt the MSC project.

    "The project is a year ahead of schedule. If there is any effect at all, it is to accelerate the project, which has progressed much faster than anticipated," Mahathir said.

    A total of 180 foreign and local companies have applied to invest in the MSC, with outlays of over US$1 billion spread over five years, he said.

    The combined MSC revenues of those companies in the fifth year of operation is expected to be in excess of US$3 billion. Of the 180 companies, 110 have already received MSC status. Such status gives them preferential treatment such as ten-year tax exemptions, guaranteed infrastructure, competitive telecom tariffs and unrestricted imports of knowledge workers.

    "We must ensure that companies that fail, do not wither away from the scene, but instead bounce back and learn from their failures," said Othman Yeop Abdullah, executive chairman of the Multimedia Development Corp., the lead agency promoting and developing the MSC.

    Mahathir said that the government is considering legislation similar to that of the U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection laws. He also said that some good companies may fail because of the Asian economic crisis.

    "It may be necessary to provide a safety net for MSC-status companies that fail," Mahathir said.

    Keyword: International Advisory Panel for MSC
    The first International Advisory Panel for the Multimedia Super Corridor was held at Stanford University in California in January 1997 to review the progress of the project, which is aimed at creating a global test bed for multimedia products and services.

    Malaysia convened the second meeting Feb. 12 and 13 in Cyberjaya, south of Kuala Lumpur, an intelligent city being built on a former palm-oil estate within the MSC.

    The panel has expanded from the original 30 members to 44 since the first meeting. However, only 13 members were able to attend, while 12 others sent representatives. (return to news)

    (Julian Matthews, Asia BizTech Correspondent)

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    Updated: Mon Feb 23 16:59:09 1998