Philippines Online Journal

Subscribe to Philippines Online Journal: eMailAlertsEmail Alerts newslettersWeekly Newsletters
Get Philippines Online Journal: homepageHomepage mobileMobile rssRSS facebookFacebook twitterTwitter linkedinLinkedIn

Mabuhay Authors: RealWire News Distribution

Related Topics: Philippines, CIO/CTO Update, VITO Report , Citizen Journalist, Outsourcing on Ulitzer

CIO/CTO Update: Article

MDeC CEO Badlisham Ghazali Helps Drive Innovation, Malaysia's Knowledge-Based Economy

More Than 2,000 Companies Now Generate $2 Billion in Annual Exports

Datuk Badlisham Ghazali is the CEO of  Malaysia’s Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC).  (“Datuk” is an honorific term in Malaysian society that can be used as a rough approximation of “Sir” in the UK.)

MdeC is responsible for the country’s MSC, or Multimedia Super Corridor, as it was known when it was conceived in 1996.

The MSC covers an area of about 175,000 acres, stretching approximately 30 miles from the famed Petronas Towers in the center of Kuala Lumpur, through a planned “Silicon Valley” region that encompasses the district of Sepang (and the palnned cities of Cyberjaya and Putrajaya), to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

A comprehensive story about the MSC would require at least one book. For now, we just decided to focus on getting some initial thoughts from Mr. Ghazali.

With a renewed, recent focus on the potential of Southeast Asia as a major contributor to the global economy—including Indonesia’s status as a G20 country and the status of Malaysia, Thailand, and The Philippines as newly-industrialized countries (NICs)—it seemed like a good time to try to reach him.

This is Part One of our interview. Part Two—in which we discuss social networking and Malaysia’s place in the IT world—can be found here.

NOW Magazine: Briefly describe the vision behind the MSC, if you will.

Datuk Badlisham Ghazali: MSC Malaysia was conceptualized in 1996, as you know, and is Malaysia’s most exciting initiative targeted at enhancing development and country’s growth of the ICT industry.

As the host to numerous companies ranging from various multinationals (MNC), foreign-owned to home-grown local companies which are primarily focused on products, solutions, services as well as research and development (R&D) of the multimedia and ICT sector, MSC Malaysia has gained and grown in recognition as a prolific and dynamic ICT hub.

Furnished with state-of-the-art technologies, high capacity global telecommunications and logistics networks, secured cyberlaws and strategic policies, beneficial range of financial and non-financial incentives for investors, as well as sophisticated urban infrastructures, MSC Malaysia is the ideal environment of growth and potential for Malaysian ICT small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to penetrate international markets and transform into world-class companies.

NOW: So it is driven by the domestic market then?

Badlisham Ghazali: Yes, and the rapid growth of the domestic market over the recent years can be attributed to the combination of increasing awareness on the needs and benefits of using ICT. At the same time, affordability of such goods and services is also a major factor especially in the consumer market segment.

NOW: How many companies participate, and how many people do they employ?

Badlisham Ghazali: To date, over 2,000 companies have been awarded the MSC Malaysia Status in four main sectors of Software and E-solution, Shared Services and Outsourcing (SSO), Creative Multimedia as well as Institute of Higher Learning and Incubators. This generates RM21.8 billion ($6.35 billion) in revenue and RM7.1billion (slightly more than $2 billion) in exports in 2008.

MSC Malaysia Status companies employs over 92,000 knowledge workers throughout its cybercities and cybercenters nationwide.

NOW: This in a country of about 27 million people, a relatively small population for the region…

Badlisham Ghazali: With MSC Malaysia, the ICT industry is fast becoming the backbone of the country’s economy, in terms of new business wins as well as international recognition. It aspires to become a global hub for development of the future’s ICT products, services and applications.

NOW: And some of those are…

Badlisham Ghazali: The list includes:

* shared services and outsourcing (SSO)
* expansion of creative multimedia sector
* application software development
* mobility embedded software and hardware
* Internet-based businesses
* technopreneur development
* MSC Malaysia Cybercities and Cybercentres
* MSC Malaysia Capacity and Capability Programs
* the Knowledge Workers Development Initiative.

NOW: What are two or three key things that potential investors should know about the MSC?

Badlisham Ghazali: I can give you more than that, because MSC Malaysia’s 10-Point Bill of Guarantees is a commitment by the Malaysian Government to provide a conducive environment for investors and businesses to operate in Malaysia.

The points are:

1. Provide a world-class physical and information infrastructure.
2. Allow unrestricted employment of local and foreign knowledge workers.
3. Ensure freedom of ownership by exempting companies with MSC Malaysia Status from local ownership requirements.
4. Give the freedom to source capital globally for MSC Malaysia infrastructure, and the right to borrow funds globally.
5. Provide competitive financial incentives, including no income tax for up to 10 years or an investment tax allowance, and no duties on import of multimedia equipment.
6. Become a regional leader in intellectual property protection and cyberlaws.
7. Ensure no Internet censorship.
8. Provide globally competitive telecommunications tariffs.
9. Tender key MSC Malaysia infrastructure contracts to leading companies willing to use the MSC Malaysia as their regional hub.
10. Provide an effective one-stop agency (ie, the Multimedia Development Corporation).

NOW: That said, what specific technologies are represented most strongly within the MSC? What sort of balance do you have between hardware and software innovation?

Badlisham Ghazali: MSC Malaysia was created to transform Malaysia into a developed nation, and therefore, it is making a shift from manufacturing based industry to a knowledge-based, innovation-led economy.

Looking at manufacturing, Malaysia knows it cannot compete with the likes of China and India, which are vast in land and human capital resources. But our ICT solutions are world-class and benchmarked against global standards, meeting the demands of emerging and developed markets.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.