Malaysia’s smart school project draws flak

By Julian Matthews and Amar Hakim

KUALA LUMPUR–Malaysia’s troubled Smart Schools Project continues to draw flak despite the awarding of the contract Wednesday to a consortium to provide the necessary courseware and wiring to 90 schools in the pilot program.

Education Minister Najib Tun Razak vowed that all 9,000 primary and secondary schools in the country will be made “smart” by 2002, making yet another promised target date that critics say is unlikely to be met.

At issue is the fact that over 1,000 schools still do not even have power, while the proposed official CD-ROM courseware is only due in April next year, four months into the school year.

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Remarked chips: The continual bane of the PC market

By Anita Devasahayam

Engineer TK Ong was in the middle of preparing a presentation for a meeting when his brand new PC crashed. It had hung previously each time he used Microsoft PowerPoint and Adobe Illustrator together, but did not bother him much. Perhaps it was just a memory glitch, he thought.

But this time when the Pentium 200MMX-powered PC crashed, he was upset because it resulted in him losing a large amount of data.

He complained to a cousin who had purchased a similar machine and, to his surprise, discovered that the latter’s PC was also giving similar problems. Curious, Ong checked with two colleagues who had bought PCs at a computer fair three months earlier. All four PCs–three with Pentium 200MMX processors and one with a Pentium 233MMX processor–were purchased from the same retailer and were crashing without reason.

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Malaysia builds US$60m Hollywood-style studio for MSC

KUALA LUMPUR–Watch out Hollywood, here comes Mollywood.

Malaysia is hoping to replicate the Hollywood-Silicon Valley combination in California by building its own film studio cum movie theme park within the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) high-tech zone.

The Entertainment Village or E-Village will be situated on a 200-hectare site near Cyberjaya, the host city for information technology companies in the MSC.

Malaysian multinational Datuk Keramat Holdings (DKH), the part owners of Leavesden Studio in Britain, will initially spend US$60 million on the project.

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Dell confident of getting 50% revenue from Net

by Julian Matthews

PENANG, Malaysia–Direct sales giant Dell Computer Corp is confident its Internet business will account for 50 percent of revenues by the end of 2000.

“The projection is a very realistic target as we are aggressively expanding our business and operations through the Internet,” said Dell Asia Pacific Customer Centre (APCC) vice president and managing director Simon Wong.

He said sales via its Web site currently accounts of 30 percent of revenues and surpasses US$18 million a day, which translates to US$6.5 billion a year.
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Software piracy: Malaysia and BSA join forces for clampdown

By Julian Matthews

The Malaysian government, working in tandem with industry watchdog Business Software Alliance is coming down hard on software piracy like never before.

By government estimates, from April to June, 4,629 raids had been conducted with seizures exceeding RM4 million (US$1.05 million). This figure is dramatic in light of the fact that only RM3 million (US$790,000) worth was seized for the whole of last year.

The nation-wide blitzkrieg is sending out real fear among corporate users and computer retailers, many of whom have been struggling to stay afloat in the past year.

The BSA issued a stern warning last month when it sued a Malacca manufacturing firm claiming RM300,000 (US$79,000) in damages, costs and aggravated damages for alleged copyright infringement.
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Advisors impressed with Malaysia’s MSC

By Julian Matthews

CYBERJAYA, Malaysia–They came, they saw, they were bowled over. That was the consensus of the Multimedia Super Corridor international advisors after reviewing the progress of the project.

Separating the cherries from the pits, the panel surmised that the MSC indeed was a plum fruit.

In fact, the 12 MSC panel members and 14 representatives were falling over themselves with compliments. Hewlett-Packard chairman and CEO Lewis Platt was “pleasantly surprised”, British Telecom Sir Peter Bonfield said the progress was “remarkable”, Madge Networks NV chairman Robert Madge described it as “amazing”.
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Malaysia launches Multimedia University

By Julian Matthews

CYBERJAYA, Malaysia–Malaysia today launched the Multimedia University (MMU), which claims to be the first university in the world to embrace multimedia-based learning and technologies as the cornerstone of its education system.

Based in new intelligent city Cyberjaya, the university will provide the critical mass of “knowledge workers” needed for the resource-hungry Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) project.

“It is designed to spawn creative ideas and technopreneurs–very much like the role that Stanford University plays in the success of the Silicon Valley,” said Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the launch today.
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Acer vows to beef up venture capital fund

By Julian Matthews
Published: July 8, 1999 5:00 PM PDT

CYBERJAYA, Malaysia–Acer will enlarge its venture capital fund five-fold to US$1 billion from US$200 million in the next three years.

Chairman and CEO Stan Shih told CNET Asia that Acer currently has three funds spread over key markets in the US, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, Israel and Australia.

Shih said the funds were part of Acer’s strategy to move into Internet-related and software industries, particularly Intellectual Property (IP) and service sectors.

“This began a year ago and is the new direction of Acer on top of pure hardware manufacturing. We have to leverage on IP and services to enhance our competitiveness. That is critical. It is the future and we don’t have a choice. But it won’t be easy,” he said. He spoke to CNET Asia at the third international advisory panel meeting of the Multimedia Super Corridor project held in Malaysia.
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Malaysia launches “crown jewel” of high-tech zone

By Julian Matthews, Malaysian correspondent

Published: July 8, 1999 11:35 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia–The Malaysian government officially opened Cyberjaya today, the country’s beleaguered but highly anticipated “intelligent city.”

Much enthusiasm was put behind the launch in an attempt to reaffirm that Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor project, of which Cyberjaya is a key component, is still on track.

“Any large and pioneering initiative will have its share of detractors and cynics. However, our success to date speaks for itself,” said Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. The multibillion-dollar project had been a favorite target of criticism by foreign media since it was announced three years ago.
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Wafer fabs in Malaysia: the race has begun

By Julian Matthews

A race to build Malaysia’s first commercial wafer fabrication plant has begun in earnest. Three projects are in the reckoning in anticipation of a sudden spike in worldwide demand for wafers come 2001. The fabs are led by 1st Silicon (M) Sdn Bhd, Wafer Technology Malaysia Sdn Bhd and Mimos Bhd.

By a quirk of geographical fate, all three are situated a few hundred kilometers from each other, but distance accounts for nothing when one is constantly looking over one’s shoulder. Their stock reply that the market is big enough to accommodate three new players belies growing rivalry. Already they seem all geared up for battle mode.

In May, Wafer Technology Malaysia (WTM) threw its hat into the ring when it set up a sales office in Sunnyvale, California, and claimed it was ready to take orders for prototypes even though the plant would not be ready in a year.

Not to be outdone, 1st Silicon said it will set up a sales office in the Silicon Valley by the third quarter of this year.

Mimos, notably the least ambitious of the three new combatants, remained hushed about its marketing strategy except to say it was “looking at global customers”.

The jostling to secure customers has turned the heat on in an industry otherwise dampened by the fallout from the regional crisis and marred by inventory overruns.
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