Head of Asia's Multimedia Super Corridor Will Consider Changes to Boost Investment

Updated:2001/4/2 09:00

The official in charge of Malaysia's so-called multimedia super corridor said
the project would follow some recommendations made by an international
consultant that had criticized the way it was run.

Consulting firm McKinsey & Co. had said among other things that the super
corridor hasn't attracted substantial investment from global technology
companies or benefited the broader economy. The report recommended that the
Multimedia Development Corp., the government agency that oversees the project,
reduce bureaucracy and bring in more technical and venture-capital expertise.
"We will examine closely the recommendations in that review ... and come up
with a ... framework of action," said Othman Yeop Abdullah, the MDC's executive

McKinsey was commissioned by the MDC in October to prepare a status report on
the four-year-old project. It is Malaysia's effort to build an Asian Silicon
Valley aimed at transforming the country's economy to one reliant on technology
from a manufacturing base. So far, the super corridor has swallowed more than
$3.7 billion in state funds. The confidential McKinsey report, dated Feb. 5,
has been seen by The Asian Wall Street Journal.

Late Wednesday, the MDC issued a statement defending its record. The super
corridor "has made tremendous progress over the last four years," the statement
said. It added that the McKinsey study was "one of many internal reviews ...
aimed at fine-tuning [the MDC's] business plans and strategies."

On Thursday, Tan Sri Othman and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad were
asked by reporters at a technology conference in Kuala Lumpur about the
McKinsey report.

"At the moment, I would admit that [the super corridor] hasn't contributed as
much [to the economy] as we had expected," Dr. Mahathir said. "But as far as
interest in the [super corridor] is concerned, and the investment and the
commitment to invest ... we are ahead of our program."

Tan Sri Othman said his agency would establish a "framework of action" soon to
implement some of McKinsey's recommendations but didn't specify which ones.

He said that 471 companies have been awarded multimedia super corridor status,
which confers incentives such as tax holidays and unrestricted import of
technology workers. Of these, 40 are major global companies, he said.

Among its recommendations, the consultant urged the MDC to tailor special
incentives for key global and local companies to encourage them to invest and
do more within the super corridor.

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