Malaysia Orders Cybercafes to Register Users

By Julian Matthews

December 29, 1998 (KUALA LUMPUR) — In a further challenge to the local Internet community, Malaysia directed all cybercafes to register their customers or have their permits revoked.
The directive was issued on Dec. 3 to all state governments to make it mandatory for cybercafes to maintain a record book to take down personal details such as the name, identity card number and home address of customers.

Housing and Local Government Minister Ting Chew Peh said the directive was effective immediately and would be an additional condition included in permits issued nationwide.

“Of late, there have been numerous cases of cybercafes being abused by unscrupulous people to spread malicious lies about the country via the Internet. We want to exercise tighter control and supervision over the activities in cybercafes, which is a new phenomenon in the country,” he said.

He said the move was also in response to a request from the Home Ministry, which he said had difficulties locating culprits who spread false information about the country.
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Sun Microsystems chief Java strategist joins MSC company

by Julian Matthews

December 22, 1998, Kuala Lumpur — Sun Microsystems Inc technical strategist and chief Java evangelist Miko Matsumura has joined a little-known Malaysian Multimedia Super Corridor company called Datek Sdn Bhd.

Matsumura said he was leaving the Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer giant for the small, pure-Java software developer because it is the most exciting and successful company among the hundreds he has seen.

“It is truly both a serious enterprise computing player and an Internet company, a rare combination. I have found the killer app I was looking for,” he said.

Matsumura will assume the position of president of US operations and vice president of strategy for BizTone.com Inc, the tentative new global name for Datek.

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Malaysian IC Wafer Fabs Yet to Start Operating

By Julian Matthews

December 17, 1998 (KUALA LUMPUR) — Two government-backed advanced wafer fabrication plants at the Kulim Hi-Tech Park in Malaysia have yet to get off the ground.

Sources close to the projects said they were affected by the global chip market downturn and the inability to raise local or foreign funding.

Such delays underline the severity of Malaysia’s battered economy and its souring investment climate.

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High-profile MSC Panel “Members” Disappear From List

By Julian Matthews

Dec 3, 1998, Kuala Lumpur — Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor project continues to draw controversy after high-profile members of an international advisory panel of the project were removed from a list available on the Internet.

Three prominent technology icons HRH Prince Al-Waleed Talal Al- Saud, chairman of Kingdom Holding Co, John Doerr, a founding partner of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Inc and Dr. Robert Metcalfe, Vice President of Technology of International Data Group named on the 45-member list were suddenly removed from the list early this week.

At press time, an official US-based mirror website of the Multimedia Development Corp in the US containing the three names was still available at http://mdc.cinenet.net/msc/advisory/index.html

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Toffler Raises Furore Over MSC’s Future

By Julian Matthews

November 19, 1998, Kuala Lumpur — Under intense international scrutiny and amid the worst political and financial crisis in its recent history, Malaysia now faces doubts on the viability of its much-touted Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) project.

Author Alvin Toffler, an influential member of the MSC’s international advisory panel, has shot the first salvo by castigating the Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad for perpetuating a “climate of political repression” that he says will stifle the project.

“I do not believe that this visionary project, which is important for the future of the Malaysian people and serves, in part, as a model and challenge to other countries, can flourish in the present climate of political repression,” he said in a statement issued to this reporter.

He said he believed that other members of the panel, comprising top executives of giant software, computer, and telecommunications companies, shared his view.

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SyQuest to Shut Malaysian Plant, Retrench 1,000 Workers

By Julian Matthews

November 12,1998 (KUALA LUMPUR) — Removable disk drive maker SyQuest Technology Inc. will shut its manufacturing plants in Penang and displace almost 1,000 workers by year’s end, a government source said.

“About half of the 968 workers are to be retrenched by the end of November, and another half by December,” he said.

The source said the company attributed the closure to a fall in product demand, heavy losses incurred over the past two years and the inability of its headquarters to raise new capital.

The Penang facility has left a recorded message on its main telephone line stating it has shut down temporarily from Nov. 2 to Nov. 15 and would resume operations on Nov 16. Sources said workers were told a new product line would be introduced when the plant was re-opened.

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Malaysia’s Chip Exports Decline for Second Year

By Julian Matthews

November 10, 1998 (KUALA LUMPUR) — Malaysia’s exports of semiconductors in the first seven months of 1998 declined by 4 percent, the Finance Ministry’s annual economic report said.

Exports of semiconductors declined to US$8.07 billion from about US$8.4 billion in the same period in 1997. This is the second year exports were down, signaling the heady days of double-digit export growth rates are over.

Exports contracted by 0.8 percent over the same period last year, a significant fall from rises of 24.9 percent in 1996, 25.6 percent in 1995 and 29 percent in 1994.

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Banks Seek to Comply with Y2K Amid Financial Upheaval

By Julian Matthews

November 6, 1998 (KUALA LUMPUR) — Malaysia is confident that its finance, banking and insurance companies will be Year 2000-compliant by Dec. 31, 1998, a full year before the Y2K computer software problem must be resolved.

But even as financial institutions strive to meet the government-imposed deadline, experts are concerned that it may be too late for their corporate customers.

A Securities Commission report indicated that only 93 companies or 12.7 percent of 734 companies listed on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange were Y2K compliant as of Sept. 24. The official national registry of Y2K-compliant companies, which was set up in May on the Internet at www.y2k.gov.my, has yet to register a single company.

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Malaysia to Build Multimedia Corridor Despite Recession

By Julian Matthews

November 4, 1998 (KUALA LUMPUR) — The Malaysian government is pushing ahead with its plan to build the Multimedia Super Corridor although its economy will shrink by about 4.8 percent in 1998, for its first recession in 13 years.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said the project is crucial for the country to achieve his dream of attaining developed nation status by 2020.

However, the project’s lofty plans to turn a 750-sq.-km former rubber and palm oil estate into an industrial park have come under criticism amidst the political and financial crises.

Mahathir, who assumed the position of finance minister following the sacking of deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim, presented a national budget on Oct. 23 in deficit for the first time in six years.

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Four Charged with Spreading Riot Rumors over Internet

By Julian Matthews

September 30, 1998 (KUALA LUMPUR) — Four people were charged in a Malaysian court on Sept. 24 with spreading rumors of riots in the capital city over the Internet.

This is the first such case of its kind in Malaysia.

A woman and three men claimed trial to the charges and were released on bail. The timing of the start of trials might be a warning to local Internet users not to use the medium to stir up incidents in the city, already troubled by demonstrations in the last two weeks over the sudden sacking of deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim.

The woman, logistic trainer Tan Lai Yee, and three men, finance manager Wong Yoon Sing, bank officer Au Yong Wai and site supervisor Lee Chun Meng, were charged in separate courts with committing the offense under Section 505 (b) of the Penal Code.

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