Malaysia: MSC's performance defended

The country's Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) is not doing as poorly as claimed by certain groups, according to the overseer of the multi-billion dollar project.

KUALA LUMPUR--The country's Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) is not doing as poorly as claimed by certain groups, according to the overseer of the multi-billion dollar project.

Multimedia Development Corporation (MDC) executive chairman Dr Othman Yeop Abdullah said the project has thus far generated RM2 billion (US$0.527 billion) in sales for companies involved in the MSC.

"It has also led to a creation of 12,000 knowledge-based jobs this year," he told a media briefing on the fifth MSC international advisory panel (IAP) scheduled to be held September 6 to 8.

Othman said the research and development expenditure of the MSC-status companies have made up to about 1 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) last year.

Earlier this year, a study on the MSC by international consulting firm McKinsey & Co stated that there were a distinct lack of knowledge workers to make the MSC a success. The study also suggested that experts be brought in to complement the MDC as it lacked expertise in critical areas.

McKinsey helped draft the MSC's blueprint in 1996. The review was believed to be the first of its kind sinces the MSC's inception that same year.

To this, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad reportedly admitted that the impact of the MSC on Malaysia's economy was not as successful as the government had expected.

Othman said MDC had taken heed of the criticisms pertaining to the MDC and taken steps to rectify certain areas following the feedback from McKinsey and participating MSC companies.

He pointed out that MDC had simplified the procedures in applying for MSC status following the feedback.

Meanwhile, 541 companies have been given MSC status to date, which surpassed the government's aim of having 500 such companies by 2003, he added. Of them, 474 companies are in operation, another 10 have yet to be incorporated, 28 had their MSC status revoked, and the rest are expecting to begin their operations soon.

On the upcoming IAP meeting, discussions will center upon how to position the MSC to contribute significantly to the country's economy, as well as spearhead the formation of a national informational technology agenda.

The IAP which meets annually, is chaired by Mahathir and comprises some 40 prominent foreign members from the IT industry.

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