Malaysia Knows Its Way Around High Tech

The cover page of "Mahathir's high-tech folly" (Asian Edition Cover Story, Mar. 22) is sensationally misleading. It belittles the Malaysian leadership as well as undermines the credibility of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC). The article is slanted and sparse on the facts on the achievements made by the Multimedia Development Corp. in attracting investments. Considering that we started accepting applications only at the beginning of 1997, I think Prime Minister Mahathir has far from failed to attract high-tech companies. The MSC aimed to attract only 50 world-class companies by the year 2003. Getting 29 by March, 1999, is a great achievement by any standard. And the number of companies in operation increased from 94 in 1997 to 139 in March of this year. The ranks of knowledge workers grew from 2,993 to 9,916.

You also mentioned "blatant reversal" by the Malaysian Prime Minister on the government's commitment to noncensorship of the Internet as well as its business-friendly positioning. Let me underscore the fact that as recently as last week, the Prime Minister has reiterated that he has never wavered from promises made in the Bill of Guarantees. He has reinforced his stand on the noncensorship of the Internet. He has further instructed the relevant government agencies to put together the necessary legal and administrative arrangements to strengthen the enforcement of intellectual-property rights.

Othman Yeop Adbullah

Executive Director

Multimedia Development Corp.


My quote was unfortunately used out of context to substantiate the slowdown of Malaysia's Multimedia Super Corridor project. I specifically mentioned that Microsoft's Asia Operations Center in Singapore is a separate legal entity and is not a reflection of Microsoft's commitment to the MSC project. Our unit in Singapore is responsible for the manufacturing and logistics process of our business chain in this region.

The 15 employees from the regional head office serve as the strategic think-tank for Microsoft's Asia region, based in Malaysia. This group of employees has been working with my team to ensure that we are well-supported in our initiative in the MSC.

The Asia Operations Center in Singapore and the regional head office are completely separate business entities. Therefore, it is irrelevant to compare the former's number of employees (more than 100) with that of the latter. Microsoft's manufacturing concern was never part of our MSC initiative.

Microsoft's commitment to Malaysia's MSC has not wavered nor has it been altered. We are determined to transfer knowledge and build a community of IT developers in Malaysia. This is key in developing a local software industry.

Microsoft Knowledge Capital Centre was established in August, 1998, and to date has reached out to more than 2,271 developers, updating them with the latest in our technology and products. We have currently invested more than $200,000 in the development of local Malaysian developers and IT professionals since the inception of MKCC six months ago. This investment sum will continue to grow throughout this year.

We at Microsoft are excited by the prospect of supporting the high-tech projects initiated by any country. What I find disconcerting is the fact that the media should pit one project against another, thereby creating a win-lose proposition between the countries.

Additionally, we would also like to say that Chairman Bill Gates's visit to Hong Kong and China was in no way a reflection of his optimism about the MSC. Bill's schedule was planned for the Far East, as he missed Hong Kong and China when he toured Southeast Asia last March.

Benedict Lee

Managing Director

Microsoft Corp.


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