Lesley Moore, Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia to Build
Super Corridor"

Malaysia is setting up a Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) in an area about 15km wide and 40km long, which it intends to transform into a world-class center for multimedia industries to develop new ideas, products and business strategies.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says the government will ensure the provision of world-class physical and information infrastructure, support services and adequate supply of skilled human resources to meet investors' needs in the MSC.

The government is actively seeking out investors for the MSC, as evidenced by the prime minister's visits to Tokyo, Japan, and San Francisco and Silicon Valley in the United States in May 1996.

Addressing business leaders at conferences in both countries, Mahathir said the government will introduce a host of incentives to lure foreign investors to the MSC including tax exemptions of five to 10 years, similar to the pioneer status scheme currently available specifically to electronic manufacturing companies. He says the government was studying the possibility of introducing a set of guarantees to help foreign investors within the MSC get maximum returns on investment.

The MSC encompasses three mega infrastructure projects currently in development - the Kuala Lumpur City Centre, the new Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and the new federal government administrative center, Putrajaya.

"Operating in the MSC will mean that corporations have easy access to one of the world's most modern airports as well as enjoy close contact with a modern, paperless government," Mahathir said.

US$12 Million Sets up Office

At a seminar last November, the prime minister said a new company, Multimedia Development Corp (MDC), will be formed to be the master planner and strategic arm for the creation of the MSC. The company will be directly under the purview of the prime minister's department. Cabinet recently approved an initial budget of US$12 million for the MDC, which will have offices globally to market the MSC and to provide a single point of contact for industries interested in investing and relocating within the MSC.

Mahathir said the corridor's infrastructure already being built include a network of highways criss-crossing the MSC, a Light Rail Transit (LRT) and an Express Rail Link (ERL). A broadband telecommunications network would also be in place using optical fiber transmission, synchronous digital hierarchy (SDH) and satellite links, he said.

The new federal government administrative center will have 76,000 government staff occupying 1.5 million square meters of floor space. Costing about US$8 billion, construction has already begun and is expected to be fully completed in 10 years.

In February, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation of Japan (NTT) endorsed the MSC and stated it was setting up a taskforce to determine how it can contribute to the project, specifically in the area of developing multimedia applications.

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