Malaysia to set up high-tech hub

update Government will establish a self-contained high-tech township in the state of Johor to attract more IT companies.

update JOHOR--Malaysia today announced plans to establish a self-contained ICT (information and communications technology) hub in the state of Johor.

Dubbed MSC (Multimedia Super Corridor) Cyberport City, the new 150-acre high-tech township will be based in Kulai, within the Iskandar development region, and will be developed in three phases, said Ganesh Kumar Bangah, chief executive officer of MSC Cyberport, during a media conference at the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signing ceremony held here.

The development of the new Cyberport city, whose estimated investment cost is between RM700 million (US$201 million) and RM800 million (US$229 million), will commence by the middle of this year. The first phase of the township is targeted to be completed by 2009, Bangah said.

He added that the new Cyberport will cater "space for more ICT companies, in particular for businesses in the Shared Services Outsourcing (SSO) industry such as call centers".

"The township will contain high-technology components, such as RFID (radio frequency identification), fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) and broadband TV, and will be a 24-hour township with focus on lifestyle for knowledge workers," Bangah said.

In addition, foreign companies that choose to relocate to both the soon-to-be developed MSC Cyberport City and the existing Menara MSC Cyberport--which has been in operation since August 2006, will also enjoy the MSC Malaysia Bill of Guarantees incentives. These include 10-year tax-free breaks, 100 percent foreign ownership, and freedom of bringing in knowledge workers, said Ganesh.

"We have long recognized the potential of ICT as the next engine of economic growth for Johor," said Dato' Haji Abdul Ghani Bin Othman, Senior Minister of the State of Johor. "In order to tap on this potential, the state government has developed the Johor state ICT blueprint which outlines the vision for Johor to become a global ICT business hub with a world-class living environment by 2015."

He said that to "realize this vision, the state government of Johor has taken an initiative to develop an ecosystem that will allow ICT companies to thrive in Johor, and this ecosystem includes institutions of higher learning, venture capital companies, and the right infrastructure…will turn Johor into a hotbed of new products and ideas that can be marketed globally."

Ghani added: "To drive the creation of this ecosystem, the state government has set up a high-level MSC steering committee which is supported by the MSC working and sub-committees, with participation from the government, private sectors and academia."

To date, the state government has inked pacts with eight institutes of higher learning which have the "capacity to produce collectively, more than 20,000 knowledge workers a year to supply the workforce required for knowledge-intensive organizations", according to Ghani.

The state government has also teamed up with more than seven venture capital and debt financing companies to provide funds of more than RM2 billion (US$572.6 million) to finance these organizations, he said.

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