Equal Access Trial for Telcos Set for July

By Julian Matthews

April 17, 1998 (KUALA LUMPUR) — Malaysia will roll out a trial run for equal access to all fixed-line telecommunication services beginning in July.

Minister of Energy, Telecommunications and Posts Leo Moggie said the government will test the new policy on selected exchanges to allow consumers and operators to familiarize themselves with its operational and billing aspects.

Equal access will allow subscribers to choose from one of five telecommunication service providers when making calls, regardless of the network he or she is on. Currently, such calls are mainly routed by the dominant fixed-line operator Telekom Malaysia Bhd.

The four competing telcos are Technology Resources Industries Bhd., Binariang Bhd., Time Telecommunications Sdn., Bhd. and Mutiara Swisscom Bhd.

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Intel Expands Base With Market-Specific Processors

By Julian Matthews

April 10, 1998 (PENANG, Malaysia) — Intel Corp. plans to introduce Pentium II microprocessors to tackle every segment of the market including “lean PCs,” notebooks, desktops and high- performance workstations and servers, said CEO-designate Craig Barrett.

Barrett outlined the roadmap for 1998 in a presentation given April 2, while on a five- nation tour. Intel’s strategy means it will pursue the low- end, sub- US$1000 PC market, which it has largely ignored until recently.

Barrett said Intel was forced to re-think its single-processor strategy because of increased segmentation of the market and the differing needs of end- users.

“Previously we would introduce a new product for the workstation market and as volume manufacturing and cost reductions occurred it would drift down into the desktop PC, basic PC and mobile PC markets,” he said.

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We are not moving, says Barrett

By Anita Devasahayam

PENANG: Chip giant Intel Semiconductor will continue to aggressively invest in Asia Pacific to stimulate the PC market despite the region’s financial crisis.

President and chief operating officer Craig Barrett told a press conference here last week that Asia Pacific was still a growth area and has committed US$1 billion of capital investments for the region.

The company has committed US$5 billion in capital investments worldwide and another US$2 billion for research and development. “The five flat revenue growth quarters we had experienced was a jolt to us and our biggest challenge is to get back on track,” he said.

He added that the slowdown in the chip market and lack of anticipated orders from the customers also affected the company’s performance. “The only way to recover from a crisis is by accelerated development of new products and services,” he said.

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Intel Remains Aggressive in Asia, Says Barrett

By Julian Matthews

April 7, 1998 (PENANG, Malaysia) — Intel Corp. will continue to invest in the Asia Pacific region despite the regional economic crisis, said CEO- designate Craig Barrett.

“The Asia Pacific region is a major growth area for PCs. We are extremely optimistic about prospects for growth and we will continue to look for more opportunities to invest,” he said.

Barrett said Intel plans to invest US$1.3 billion in Asia in 1998, or more than a quarter of the chip giant’s total capital investment of US$5 billion.

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IDC Downgrades IT Market Growth, Sees ‘99 Rebound

By Julian Matthews

April 3, 1998 (KUALA LUMPUR) — International Data Corp. revised downward its growth forecast for Malaysia’s information technology market to 9.7 percent from 20 percent for the next five years.

IDC predicts the local IT market will experience a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.7 percent from 1997 to 2002. Previously, the company forecast a 20 percent CAGR for years 1996 through 2000.

“The currency crisis has affected growth in all sectors,” said IDC country manager Selinna Chin.

Chin said that for 1998, the local IT market is valued at US$1.368 billion, a drastic 28 percent dip from the US$1.9 billion in 1997.

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Super Corridor Ahead of Schedule Despite Crisis

By Julian Matthews

Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) is progressing ahead of schedule and will not be delayed by the regional economic turmoil, said Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

“There is no reason to put this project on hold because a lot of the expenditure is coming mainly from the companies participating,” he said.

Since the economic downturn in July 1997, the ringgit has devalued more than 30% against the US dollar, and several factories in the country have shut down, downsized their operations or retrenched staff.

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Seagate Rehires Former Employees to Meet Demand

by Julian Matthews

April 1, 1998 (KUALA LUMPUR) — Seagate Technology is rehiring former employees on a temporary basis after laying off more than 2,000 people in its Malaysia plants in February.

The move is to meet last- minute product orders to be shipped by June from its Prai assembly plant, said Penang Seagate Industries (M) Sdn., Bhd. managing director Timothy Harris.

The company already has recruited 130 ex-staff by offering them their last drawn salary for temporary employment of between one and three months. It has another 170 more vacancies to fill.

Seagate Malaysia’s manpower shortage was a direct result of a global retrenchment exercise carried out in February that triggered higher-than- expected attrition.

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