Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday that Malaysia's version of Silicon Valley, Cyberjaya, has exceeded expectations in its first seven years and would expand to better serve a globalized market and create higher-paying jobs.
Backed by international experts, Mahathir said Malaysia's Multimedia Super Corridor would enter a so-called Phase Two beginning next year through 2010, under the supervision of his deputy Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is scheduled to succeed him later this year.
"The key thing is to go global and develop the necessary innovative capabilities," Mahathir told a news conference after two days of annual talks with representatives from multinational companies involved in the project, including Oracle, Sun Microsystems, DHL, Intel and Microsoft.
The Multimedia Super Corridor is a business zone spanning 780km2 running from the Petronas Towers, the world's tallest buildings, in the north to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in the south.
The centerpiece is Cyberjaya, a city set amid oil palm plantations just south of Kuala Lumpur. It offers tax breaks and grants to companies and researchers from around the world that move here.
Mahathir said that when the project was conceived in the 1990s, officials aimed to attract 500 companies by this year. Now, there are 920 companies attached, including more than 50 multinationals, he said.
The project generated 21,000 jobs this year, up from 17,000 last year, Mahathir said. The government estimates companies will enjoy total sales of 5.85 billion ringgit (US$1.54 billion) this year.
Most company representatives yesterday praised the project's progress and underlined the importance for the Multimedia Super Corridor to increase its business infrastructure, develop products that meet the global market's needs and improve links with similar projects around the world.
Bob Bishop, chief executive of California-based computer maker Silicon Graphics, said Malaysian scientists and engineers involved in the project have shown "quite phenomenal" technical know-how and should continue to "raise their capability to compete globally."
Mahathir said proposals for the project's next phase include expanding the Multimedia Super Corridor's districts that foreign companies could set up operations in other parts of Malaysia and still reap the benefits of being attached with the project.