NEWS: Malaysia launches futuristic city

John Blanco-Losada (
Sat, 17 May 97 10:40:28 -0400

SEPANG, Malaysia, May 17 (Reuter) - Standing on a hill
surrounded by rubber and oil palm plantations, Malaysian Prime
Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Saturday launched what is being
touted as the world's first planned intelligent city.
Using a ``smart card,'' Mahathir sent an instruction via
computer to an object resembling a space probe on the hill which
then drilled a hole in the ground, launching Cyberjaya
(''cyber-success'' in Malay).
Aimed at luring top high-technology firms, the 7,000-hectare
(17,300-acre) city will eventually support a population of
240,000. Every home will have access to the Internet and all
transactions will be done with smart cards.
The development, which Mahathir likes to call ``Cybercity,''
is located in the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), a zone 15 km
by 50 km (nine miles by 30 miles) stretching south from Kuala
Lumpur to where a new international airport and a new federal
capital called Putrajaya are also under construction.
``The establishment of the MSC, and Cyberjaya in particular,
will enable Malaysians to leapfrog into the Information Age,''
Mahathir said in a speech at the ground-breaking.
He said it was the world's first effort at creating a
planned living and working area for the information age.
It would be a place ``where knowledge workers and other
residents may interact freely in a relaxed social environment,
thereby creating an environment conducive to promoting
creativity and innovation, similar to that which prevails in
Silicon Valley in the United States,'' Mahathir said.
Some 40 foreign and local firms have made commitments to
locate in Cyberjaya, including U.S. companies AT&T Corp, Intel
Corp, Sun Microsystems Inc and NCR Corp, Germany's Siemens AG,
British Telecommunications Plc and Japanese firms Mitsubishi
Corp, Sumitomo and Sharp.
Mahathir described the response to the MSC as
``overwhelming.'' The government expects 200 companies will
eventually settle in the corridor, but Mahathir said that target
would likely be exceeded.
A joint venture between five Malaysian parties and Japan's
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) Corp will develop
Cyberjaya. The initial investment is estimated at 3.5 billion
ringgit ($1.4 billion).
The first phase of 2,800 hectares (6,900 acres) is to be
completed by next April, including Multimedia University.
First conceived in 1994, the corridor hopes to attract a
variety of firms -- from software designers and electronic
publishers to film production houses and Internet service
Some of the flagship applications include smart schools that
incorporate the Internet and other computer applications as well
as telemedicine. The latter enables doctors to communicate by
Its electronic backbone will be a 2.5-10 gigabyte digital
fibre-optic network that will link the corridor to Japan, Europe
and the United States.
The MSC will initially be driven by three mega-projects that
will be major consumers of multimedia products and services.
One is the new capital of Putrajaya, designed to be the
world's first paperless government hub.
The others are the new airport and the Kuala Lumpur City
Centre, a massive office project featuring the Petronas Twin
Towers, the world's tallest buildings at 452 metres (1,482
($1- 2.5 ringgit)
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John Blanco-Losada "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - M. Gandhi