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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US Thin-Film Supplier Shifts Production Plants

One of the world’s largest independent supplier of thin-film media for computer hard disk drives, Komag Inc, is shifting its large-scale production in the US to Malaysia in the last quarter of this year.

The move is in line with efforts to bring down costs and stimulate new applications in the troubled data storage industry.

“This shift of production volume into Malaysia will result in lower unit production costs and generate substantial cash savings in future,” said Komag’s Malaysian-born president and chief executive Tan Thian Hoo.

Under the accelerated phase down plan, Komag is expected to close down two plants in San Jose, and a third plant in Santa Clara acquired from Western Digital Corp in April.

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Cisco’s Support for 2.5 Gbits/s Internet Backbone

Internet service provider (ISP) Mimos Berhad has launched SuperJaring, a new fiber optic backbone that can transmit data at 2.5 Gbits/s making it one of the fastest available in the world.

Spanning 861km on the western side of the Malaysian peninsula, from Penang in the north to Johore in the south, the new multi-million dollar backbone network was built using the OC-48 Internet backbone infrastructure supported by Cisco Systems, Inc.

“The government has identified IT as one of the keys for our future success. Mimos’ charter has been to develop the infrastructure that will serve as the platform for that growth.

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MSC May Secure All Tenants By Mid-2000

Speaking at the third convening of the international advisory panel for the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) project, Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir expressed confidence in the project and that it is, indeed on track.

“Any pioneering initiative will have its share of detractors and cynics. However, our success to date speaks for itself,” he said.

The annual meeting had threatened to be a fiasco when renowned futurist Alvin Toffler said he was boycotting it just weeks prior in protest to recent political developments.

Another key panel member, management guru Kenichi Ohmae, could not attend as he was involved in an accident. In the end only 12 of the 43 members showed up. Fourteen others sent representatives, but the poor attendance did little to mar the proceedings.

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SmartCard Set to Debut In One Year

Malaysia’s national multipurpose card (MPC) is set to be launched by August 2000, the first of its kind in the region that can be used as an identity card, driving license, passport, medical card and an e-cash card for small-value transactions.

The initial roll out will involve two million residents in Kuala Lumpur and within the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC).
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Government’s Wafer Fab On Schedule

The Sarawak state government’s plan to build a US$1 billion wafer fabrication plant on the rainforest-clad island of Borneo is on schedule.

“There will be no more delays. The fab will be up and qualified by the third quarter of 2000 and in production by the end of that year,” said Claudio G Loddo, chief executive officer of start-up 1st Silicon (M) Sdn Bhd.

The 1st Silicon fab, is being built on a 39.4 hectare site at the Sama Jaya Free Industrial Zone, near Kuching, and will have a 8,500 sq m Class 100K cleanroom. It will be a pure-play foundry.
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MSC to Drive Millennium Products

In the last year Malaysia’s high-tech dreams were severely tested when the government grappled with a political and financial crisis that spooked investors and threatened to undermine its Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) project.

The government maintains, despite major delays, that the project is still on track. One of the primary aims of the project is for companies within the corridor to build products and services for the new millennium.

Already several smaller companies linked to the project have begun to show promise. Local smartcard players TL Technology Research (M) Sdn Bhd and Iris Technologies (M) Sdn Bhd are developing the “e-pass,” an integrated multi-function smartcard touted as a “wallet PC.”
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Malaysian Internet TV Firm Lists on Nasdaq

A local company that offers a system to access the Internet via television has listed on the US-based National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation, or Nasdaq, a first for Malaysia.

TecnoChannel Sdn Bhd made its debut in February in a reverse takeover of listed Asia Media Communications Ltd (AMC), through a new US$8.5 million common shares issue. As a result, AMC has ceased all its previous operations, assumed its new businesses and will change its name to MyWeb Inc.com pending shareholder approval.

“We chose Nasdaq because it is currently the equity market of choice for technology companies and will give us greater recognition and access to global markets,” said TecnoChannel chairman Ahmad Mustaffa Babjee. Nasdaq has seen an upsurge in recent months, mainly driven by technology and Internet-related stocks.

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Malaysia Develops Multipoint Video-Conferencing System

Malaysia has successfully tested a desktop video-conferencing system on a satellite-based wide area network (WAN), which its makers claim is the world’s first multipoint-to-multipoint video-conferencing system.

“The link-up was fast, and had smooth full motion video transmission in real-time without any of the timelags and robotic movements associated with conventional systems,” said researcher Sureswaran Ramadass. Sureswaran heads the collaborative research team of the Science University of Malaysia in Penang (USM) and local network research outfit Multimedia Research Lab Sdn Bhd (Mlabs) which invented the Multimedia Conferencing System (MCS).

The test took place in February between Measat Broadcast Network Systems Sdn Bhd’s Astro broadcast complex, near Kuala Lumpur and its office in Kota Kinabalu in the eastern state of Sabah on a 1Mbps satellite link-up. Astro is the country’s only satellite pay-TV operator.
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Multimedia Super Corridor Marred By Delays

The region’s financial crisis has taken its toll on Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) project and doubts have begun to arise on its viability.

The lofty plans to turn a 750-square-kilometer greenfield area south of Kuala Lumpur into a mecca for tech-savvy entrepreneurs of the information age went askew when the economy sunk into recession last year, its first in 13 years.

Delays in key infrastructure, slashed budgets for flagship applications, and the introduction of controversial capital controls has soured the investment climate for the project.

According to a banking source at least 20 local start-up companies with MSC status are already in dire straits. Read more

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