Net’s influence limited in this election

By Julian Matthews

KUALA LUMPUR–The Net is a growing influence in Malaysia but may not affect voters’ decisions this time around, says veteran political observer and journalist MGG Pillai.

“I do not think cyber campaigning would count for much or change voting patterns. More than half the voters would have made up their minds already. The floating voters is large, but I fancy they would not have access to a computer, ” said Pillai who runs the popular discussion list Sang Kancil.

Pillai qualifies, however, that the Net has become a potent provider of alternative, and increasingly believable, source of news for many ever since Anwar Ibrahim’s sacking from government.

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‘Phantom’ voters show up on Internet electoral roll

By Julian Matthews

KUALA LUMPUR–An election watch group has received thousands of complaints from the public alleging irregularities regarding Malaysia’s electoral roll available on the Internet and on CD-ROMs.

Malaysian Citizens’ Election Watch (Pemantau) head coordinator Kamar Ainiah Kamaruzaman said the complainants alleged that the electoral roll even had names of dead people and peculiar names made up of digits.

With the electoral roll available online, and with email affording quick and cheap communication, it has become even easier for people to discover irregularities.

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Should the Multimedia Super Corridor be reviewed?

By Julian Matthews

When Tengku Dr Azzman Shariffadeen, chief executive of Mimos Bhd, called for a review of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) project in August, one would have thought it would cause a stir in Malaysia. At best, one expected a media frenzy of follow-ups to encourage public debate on the controversial project. At worst, the powers-that-be would issue some form of damage-control counter statement. Instead, the comment passed without official reaction, echoing in the hallways of Malaysia’s active rumor mill until it faded into oblivion.

The apparent silence on the part of MSC promoter Multimedia Development Corporation (MDC) and the over 240 investor companies of the project–including some of the largest information technology and telco players in the world–was deafening.

Did the non-reaction suggest apathy or were investors too self-involved to care? Or have all its stakeholders become so wary of the fact that it doesn’t pay to be critical in Malaysia, especially not about the Prime Minister’s multi-billion-ringgit pet project?
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Malaysia’s e-BX Pushes Internet Billing Concept

By Julian Matthews, Newsbytes.
PENANG, MALAYSIA,
25 Nov 1999, 12:34 AM CST

“The check is in the Net.” That could be the response companies can expect from tardy customers soon.

Offering an Internet billing solution endorsed by IBM Corp. [NYSE:IBM], e-Business Exchange Pte Ltd (eBX), plans to entirely eliminate paper from billing and payment cycles.

No more hassles with bad checks, misplaced invoices and postal delays. Even reminder notices - and the standard phrase, “please ignore this notice if you have already made payment” may be a thing of the past.
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IBM touts Malaysian Internet e-billing solution

By Julian Matthews

KUALA LUMPUR–IBM has endorsed a homegrown e-billing solution that will dispense with the hassle of writing multiple checks and eliminate paper-based billing and posting.

“e-Business Exchange is one of the first e-billing and payment solution vendors which has broken into new markets and has been very successful. It counts world-class companies like Hong Kong Telecom and United Overseas Bank in Singapore as its major customers,” said Ou Shian Waei, IBM Malaysia country manager.

Ou said Penang-based e-BX exemplified the kind of entrepreneurship that can flourish in Malaysia given the right business environment.

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Malaysia’s Astro, TVB Hong Kong to build Chinese Net portal

By Julian Matthews

KUALA LUMPUR–Measat Broadcast Network Systems (MBNS), the operator of Malaysia’s only satellite pay-TV service Astro, and Hong Kong’s Television Broadcasts Ltd (TVB), have set up a joint venture to launch a Chinese-language Internet portal service.

MBNS said it will invest US$30 million for a 30 percent stake in the new company TVB.COM Ltd, which will be incorporated in Hong Kong. Further investment from TVB and external funding is expected to be announced later.

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BizTone.Com gets US$5.5m in funding

By Julian Matthews

KUALA LUMPUR–Malaysian-based Java developer BizTone.com has received its largest venture capital injection to date–US$5.5 million led by the Asia Java Fund, global investment firm ING-Barings, and angel investors in US and Asia.

The second round of investment brings total investment to about US$8 million, says chief executive Darryl Carlton whose company was among the first recipients of the Sun Microsystems-founded Asia Java Fund announced last week.

“The funding is an important recognition that BizTone.com’s business model of ‘renting software’ over the Net is the new wave of the future. It will be instrumental for our market entry,” said Carlton, who confirmed that a listing on Nasdaq is on schedule for next year.

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Rent-An-App Player Biztone.Com Clinches $5.5m Venture Cap

By Julian Matthews

Rent-an-app pioneer BizTone.com Inc has closed a $5.5 million investment round led by the Asia Java Fund, global investment firm ING-Barings and several angel investors.

The venture capital injection was a resounding endorsement for the Java-based developer which has its origins in Malaysia and is pushing the concept of delivering Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software as a service over the Internet.

“The advantage of BizTone is that it’s just like electricity or water, available to your business all the time and you simply pay for what you use on a transaction basis, while someone else makes sure you get the service around the clock,” said Darryl Carlton, BizTone’s chief executive officer.

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Portalizing Asia

By Julian Matthews

A quiet revolution is brewing on the Internet portal-playing landscape in Asia.

Even as Yahoo!, Microsoft’s MSN and Lycos move in to colonize the masses, Asian players are taking counter-offensive measures.

The payoffs are obvious. Portals are proven big traffic generators, and Asia is the one of the fastest-growing Internet markets. Couple this with the potential to direct that traffic onto gold-lined e-commerce pathways and the war has just begun.

The battle cry seems to be: “Whatever Yahoo! can do, we can do better.” In Malaysia, a new player has entered the fray while others have revamped and expanded their portal offerings.
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Packard Bell NEC and NEC to merge sales outside Japan

By Julian Matthews

PENANG–Packard Bell NEC Asia Pacific and NEC will consolidate its desktop PC, notebook and server businesses, outside Japan, under a single entity by the year 2000.

“Managing and operating from the same organization gives certain advantages. Now, we are able to serve corporate customers worldwide under one umbrella. All products and services will be unified,” said Wim Giezenaar, vice president and managing director of Packard Bell NEC Asia Pacific in a statement.

Packard Bell NEC and NEC sales offices in the region operated independently of each other previously.

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