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Sunday, July 11, 1999
Malaysia's PM launches Cyberjaya
CYBERJAYA, Malaysia--"MSC--It's here and it's happening!" The tagline leading to the official opening of the Malaysia's new intelligent city Cyberjaya said it all.
It was a reaffirmation that Malaysia's beleaguered Multimedia Super Corridor project, of which Cyberjaya is a key component, is still on track.
"Any large and pioneering initiative will have its share of detractors and cynics. However, our success to date speaks for itself," said Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The multi-billion dollar project had been a favorite target of criticism by foreign media since it was announced three years ago.
At the height of the country's financial and political woes last year, the project was beset with delays to key applications and infrastructure. Investors wondered whether the project was "happening" at all, while critics scorned the extravagant spending amid a recession.
The MSC is a 750 sq km area, mostly covered in palm oil and rubber estates that Malaysia is building from scratch into an Asian Silicon Valley. Cyberjaya, about 40 km from capital city Kuala Lumpur, is the host city to lure bands of researchers, scientists and engineers to experiment with new products and services.
Speaking at the launch of Cyberjaya today, Dr Mahathir reiterated the government's commitment to the project.
Dr Mahathir touted Cyberjaya as MSC's "crown jewel", listing its main draws as the 2.5 Gbps fiber optic backbone network, eco-friendly environment, close proximity to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and the presence of three universities.
"MSC companies can reap the power of association. The presence of the Multimedia University, Tenaga University and Universiti Putra Malaysia will seek to emulate the Stanford (University)-inspired setting of Silicon Valley and create a networked, productive society in Cyberjaya," he said.
Cyberjaya is the last major building block of the MSC. The other key MSC components are neighbouring Putrajaya, the newly launched government administrative center, already ready for occupation, the Technology Park, which houses small and medium-sized companies, Petronas Twin Towers and the Multimedia University, to be launched tomorrow.
Twenty one companies have already moved into 2,800 hectare flagship zone of Cyberjaya while the rest are expected to re-locate within the corridor by next June.
Dr Mahathir said to date 32 world-class "Web shapers", have committed to the MSC project, among them Ericsson, Siemens, Motorola, Lucent Technologies, Lotus Development , Oracle, Fujitsu, Intel, NTT, Compaq, NEC, British Telecom, EDS and Unisys.
The 32 are part of 225 companies that have obtained MSC status, which qualifies them for various incentives including five or 10-year tax-exemptions, competitive telecom rates, and guaranteed world-class infrastructure.
"Compared to our target of 50 by 2003, we are clearly ahead of schedule," he said.
Dr Mahathir said his government views the MSC as its next engine of growth and will contribute significantly to its economic recovery. The economy entered its first recession in 13 years last year.
He said Malaysia's plunge into the Internet and multimedia-related industries, despite its lack of experience and skilled resources, was vindicated by recent statistics of its potential.
"In the US, high tech services sector accounted for only 5.5 percent of American GDP in 1997 but it accounted for almost 40 percent of GDP over the next two years," he said.
"The Internet's growth and its global reach is opening up almost endless possibilities for e-government, e-business and edutainment. Internet businesses will generate a turnover of US$5 to 6 trillion by the year 2003."
The launch coincided with the third annual meeting of MSC's international advisory panel attended by 12 industry icons including Acer's Stan Shih, British Telecom's Sir Peter Bonfield, Hewlett-Packard's Lewis Platt, Fujitsu chairman Tadashi Sekizawa and LG Electronics chairman Bon-Moo Koo.
The advisory panel meeting to be chaired by Dr Mahathir will update members on the status of the project and discuss its future direction. It will end Friday.
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