Catcha.com to license search technology, launches Chinese site

By Julian Matthews

KUALA LUMPUR–Regional portal player Catcha.com will license its search and retrieval technology worldwide as a new revenue source.

“We have been approached by several parties to use our unique technology and have decided to commercialize and develop it into a product,” said Patrick Grove, Catcha.com Group chief executive.

Grove told CNET Asia the company will spend at least 2 million ringgit (about US$526,000) over the next five years to further research and develop its search engine.
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Malaysian fabs tipped for U.S. bank loans

By Julian Matthews

KUALA LUMPUR–Two wafer fabrication projects in Malaysia are being considered to receive financing from the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), the official export credit agency of the U.S. government.

The managements of startup fabs 1st Silicon (M) Sdn Bhd and Silterra (M) Sdn Bhd have confirmed that a bank representative made site visits to evaluate the two projects this month.

1st Silicon chief executive Claudio G. Loddo cited “significant progress” from the recent meeting. “The bank has been in contact with us since early this year and is evaluating and considering significant opportunities in Malaysia,” he said.
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Women in IT: Coming into their own

by Anita Devasahayam

Carly Fiorina’s appointment as CEO in the world’s second-largest computer company in July is an indication that women are beginning to seriously dot the male-dominated high-tech landscape.

Reaching the No.1 post at Hewlett-Packard Co is all the more significant as Fiorina, 44, had topped Fortune’s ranking of the “50 Most Powerful Women in American Business” for two consecutive years.

Perhaps, even more telling in Fiorina’s case is that the only other person tipped to take over the reins at HP, prior to her being named, was another woman, Ann Livermore, the CEO of the computing division at HP.
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Malaysian elections: On the cyber campaign trail

By Julian Matthews

Malaysia had its first elections ever in which there was finally a medium beyond government control–the Internet. But did the Net play any part in helping people decide who to vote for?

When the results of Malaysia’s 10th general elections were coming in on the night of November 29, one stunning outcome that appeared on the Internet even before results were announced by the mainstream media was the defeat of opposition leader Lim Kit Siang in Penang.

It was ironic that the Internet was to be bearer of news sounding the death knell for the parliamentary career of the long-time Democratic Action Party stalwart. Lim is an ardent advocate of the medium and frequent poster to his party’s Web site and various newsgroups.
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Linux on the march

By Julian Matthews

At the Fall Comdex in Las Vegas last month, Linus Torvalds, the spiritual leader of the open source movement, summed up the future of the Linux operating system in two words: “Penguins everywhere.”

Corel Corp chief executive Michael Cowpland echoed the statement, declaring that Linux’s time is now: “DOS had 10 years, Windows has had the last 10 years and now it’s time for Linux.”

Their confidence has been infectious. Linux has taken the computer world by storm in the past year. Many computer makers have begun to offer Linux as an alternative to Microsoft’s Windows NT, specifically as email and Web servers. But even as the new wave of the Linux decade is ushered in, not everyone is yelling “Surf’s up!” Critics’ pet peeve is that Linux has proved too unwieldy for most desktop users. They point to the lack of applications and a fragmented market, and wonder whether Linux can cut it on the enterprise.

Detractors aside, the push to popularize Linux in Asia has already begun, albeit on a slow but steady trot.
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Celestica Joins Leading CEMs,Increases Presence

Celestica Inc, the third largest contract electronic manufacturer (CEM) is investing in its first plant in Malaysia at the Kulim Hi-Tech Park in the northern state of Kedah.

Its entry marks a milestone for Malaysia which has secured the top six CEMs in the world as listed by industry trackers, Technology Forecasters Inc, namely SCI Systems Inc, Solectron Corp, Flextronics International Ltd, Jabil Circuit Inc and NatSteel Electronics Ltd.

Celestica spokesperson Pam Goddard said the company is investing US$26 million for the first phase of the plant which includes the purchase of a 4,645m2 plant. “We are very excited about the potential in Malaysia and firmly committed to growing here to meet our customer’s needs,” she said.

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Gateway traces hacker of Malaysian Web site

By Julian Matthews

KUALA LUMPUR–Direct-selling giant Gateway Inc has traced a hacker who defaced its Malaysian Web site on Sunday and threatens legal action.

Bob Sherbin, vice president of Asia/Pacific corporate communications, said in statement to CNET Asia that the hacker only known as “ieet” is from the U.S. and “we will be seeking to prosecute the individual.”

The hacker took down Gateway Malaysia’s main page and replaced it with the message “ieet wants a gateway for x-mas ;o) ” and suggested Web site owners go to Microsoft’s homepage to “fix this hole.”

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Malaysian election campaigning gets tech boost

By Julian Matthews

KUALA LUMPUR–Computers and the Web have become the new tools on the Malaysian election trail.

One candidate on a Malaysian Chinese Association ticket was seen handing out about 3,000 VCDs of himself interspersed with “before” and “after” scenes of how he has improved his constituency since the last elections.

The 30-minute VCD was entitled The Dragon in Stulang, named after incumbent assemblyman Freddie Long Hoo Hin of Stulang, Johore. “Long ” means Dragon in Chinese.

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Doctored photo on Net stirs election controversy

By Julian Matthews

KUALA LUMPUR–Cut-and-paste artistry showed up as an issue in Malaysia’s election run-up when a 1995 photo was “updated” to reflect new political line-ups.

Malaysia’s biggest Chinese-language newspaper Sin Chew Jit Poh doctored a photo in its Nov 14 issue showing current National Front deputy chairman Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in a group picture of the coalition’s leaders in place of former deputy chairman Anwar Ibrahim.

The substitution was first spotted by subscribers to a Chinese discussion list called Kopitiam on the Net.

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Malaysian cyber election nixed

By Julian Matthews

KUALA LUMPUR–A Web-based lobby group which set up a mock poll on the Internet to parallel that of the general elections has abandoned the idea after nominations submitted did not conform to its standards.

“We reviewed the nominations for the Cabinet of the New Millennium submitted through the Net and found the results meaningless to be used in a poll,” said Pat Lu, co-founder of Pahlawan, the group that conceived the cyber-election.

“The nominations we received were very polarized, and some clearly represented an expression of anger and frustration with other contending parties. This, we are afraid, diminishes the intent of the Internet poll and we are unable to put up a credible poll, ” she said in a statement.

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