Malaysia yanks flawed list of advisors

Posted on June 14, 1999 
Filed Under CNET, Julian

By Julian Matthews
Monday, June 14 1999

KUALA LUMPUR–Official Web pages containing names of industry icons purportedly being members of an international advisory panel for Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor project were suddenly removed Friday.

The Multimedia Development Corporation, the government agency which is responsible for maintaining the lists, pulled the entire US mirror site and revised another list at its Malaysian Web site.

In a statement issued on Friday, it said the US mirror site was “now defunct and its contents are no longer valid.”

MDC did not explain how the false information came to be included on the MSC Web sites–which are the official sources for updates on the progress of the project.

When contacted by CNET Malaysia, an MDC spokesperson could not explain why the oversight occurred and refused to speculate.

The move comes in the wake of a CNET Malaysia report Thursday that at least four of those listed on the mirror site were never members.

The four non-members were John Chambers, president and CEO of Cisco Systems, John Doerr, founding partner of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, Dr Robert Metcalfe, vice president of technology at International Data Group, and Prince Al-Waleed Talal Al-Saud, chairman of Kingdom Holding.

Cisco Systems Malaysia country manager Ong Teng Beng, in statement late today confirms it is Cisco chairman John Morgridge, and not Chambers, who is the official representative to the panel.

He was appointed in September 1998. Why Cisco Systems CEO Chambers was included on the list on the MDC website for over six months, remains a puzzle.

Ong says, by way of explanation, that Chambers had met with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad twice before.

Ironically, CNET Malaysia has discovered yet another flawed list still available on the Net naming Doerr, Metcalfe and Prince Al-Waleed as members of the panel.

This Web site is endorsed by the MDC and was designed by Web site developer NeuroNet (M) Sdn Bhd for the second meeting of the panel held in Malaysia in February 1998.

On this list, Morgridge is listed as a member seven months before he was officially accepted. The MDC which touts itself as the one-stop agency overseeing and developing the MSC often cites the panel as a selling point in its promotional presentations locally and abroad.

Indeed, the set up of the panel and its inaugural meeting in Stanford University in January 1997 was a pivotal point in getting the project off to a good start.

Among the luminaries who attended that first meeting were Larry Ellison, chairman and CEO of Oracle Corp, Nobuyuki Idei, president of Sony Corp, Masayoshi Son, president and CEO of Softbank Corp, Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems Inc and Gary Tooker, chairman of Motorola Inc, among others.

The panel had endorsed the idea of the MSC, lending the still fledgling project an air of credibility and giving it the high-profile impetus it needed to draw investors.

In February 1998, when the second meeting was held in Kuala Lumpur and Cyberjaya–the new city being built from scratch on palm oil and rubber plantations–it was poorly attended with only 13 international members out of an expanded 41-member panel showing up.

At that meeting, the core issue brought up by panel members was providing a “safety net” for companies within the MSC zone similar to United States’ Chapter 11 laws which protects the bankrupt party from creditors.

The suggestion has yet to be taken up in over a year–even though several MSC status companies during the past year were under serious financial constraints because of the economic recession.

The revised list is not without its own controversy with the addition of a new member, Lotus Development Corp president Jeffrey Papows.

In an April 29 article, the Wall Street Journal profiled him as an ambitious executive who stretched the truth about his educational background, military service record, and personal history in order to advance his career.

Papows had said he was an orphan as a child, although his parents raised him and are still alive. He also claimed he was a pilot in the United States Marine Corps when he was in fact an air traffic controller. Papows also claimed his doctorate was from the same university that gave him his Master’s when in fact it was from a correspondence school.

The revised list also contains another factual error, despite the fact the MDC statement says it has taken into account “changes in management”.

Craig Barrett is listed as chief operating officer of Intel, though he vacated that position to become CEO in May last year.

Frederick Gluck, formerly vice chairman of Bechtel Group and presently with McKinsey & Co, was also dropped from the new 43-member panel, without explanation.

The panel is scheduled to meet for the third time from July 8 to 10. Cisco’s Ong says Morgridge is not attending because the dates clash with Cisco’s board meeting in San Jose.

Another founding member, Professor William Miller of the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, has informed CNET he will not attend the meeting because of a conflict with a long standing engagement.

Renowned author Alvin Toffler has told CNET Asia he is boycotting the meeting over the outcome of the Anwar Ibrahim trial and the ill-treatment of his friend Dr Munawar Anees.

An official list of attendees is expected to be released next week.

Published in CNET, June 14, 1999

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