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E-Village: Malaysia goes Mollywood

By Julian Matthews
August 13, 1999

You will be forgiven if in five years' time, you visit Malaysia's Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) expecting dust-free cleanrooms teeming with white-smocked scientists and engineers hunched over tiny electronic components, only to find otherwise.

Instead, if Charmaine Augustin of the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDC) should have her way, the MSC would be filled with pony-tailed men in shades rather than bunnymen in masks.

As senior manager of the Creative Multimedia Cluster, the newest division of the MDC, Augustin is eager to transform Malaysia's 15km by 50km digital corridor into an area more akin to Hollywood and Disneyland combined, rather than a clinical and sterile technopolis.

"There will be studios and sets for movie-makers, theme parks and resorts for the tourists, and digital animation labs and film schools for students," she said.

The MSC will be abuzz with the stuff of stars. In it you can expect to find directors and producers, cameramen and editors, actors and actresses, gaffers and grips, special-effects crew and stuntmen, animators and digital effects artists--all involved in the creative process of churning out blockbuster movies, hit TV shows, and popular cartoons.

In short, it is hoped your future visit to the MSC will leave you both shaken, and stirred.

Cue the Entertainment Village or E-Village, backed by managers with James Bond-like guile and history. The heart of the Creative Multimedia Cluster.

Public-listed company Datuk Keramat Holdings Bhd (DKH) pitched for and received the go-ahead last month to be the anchor tenant for the E-Village.

In its first phase a US$60 million studio and entertainment complex is planned on a 480-hectare piece of land bordering Cyberjaya, the MSC's host city for IT companies.

DKH was a shoo-in for the project. Together with associate company George Town Holdings, DKH owned the Leavesden Studio in Britain.

Five years earlier, it had swooped down in a dramatic last-minute bid and bought the Watford-based studio during the filming of the James Bond movie "Golden Eye". Leavesden's biggest coup since has been George Lucas' "Star Wars: Episode 1--The Phantom Menace".

Headed by Disney veterans Norman Doerges and Robert McTyre, DKH convinced the MSC Implementation Council that it had the expertise to pull off such a project as the E-Village--and the force was obviously with it.

When completed, the E-Village would have not only film and TV studios, but also a world-class theme park, holiday resort, and business and residential townships.

The Creative Multimedia Cluster now moved from the abstract to something tangible.



Julian Matthews is the Malaysian correspondent for CNET Malaysia. Email us your comments.


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