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
Development Corp., the lead agency promoting and developing
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
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
(Julian Matthews, Asia BizTech Correspondent)