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TJ AT: MSC - Hebat Tapi Bangang?
By Kapal Berita
27/9/2000 9:30 pm Wed
TJ Ringkas: (intipati sahaja sambil meng'komen' (mengulas lerr...)
Hebat tetapi bangang: Malaysia tewas dalam perancangan teknologi maklumat
Dikala akhbar perdana menyiarkan puji-pujian Gates terhadap MSC,
sebenarnya ada sesuatu yang mereka sepatutnya terkelu. Sumbangan
Microsoft di MSC cuma sekitar US$2.6 juta sahaja di bandar yang
penuh dengan "jaya maya" nya. Tetapi di Hyderabad India, Microsoft
mencurahkan US$50 juta banyaknya pelaburan di sana. Ini menyerlahkan
bahawa bisa tenaga pakar adalah lebih penting daripada tenaga infra
struktur yang mencakar.
Bayangkan pecahan wang 14 billion yang telah disalurkan untuk MSC ini:
Malaysia menjangka mendapat pulangan 20 billion dari pelaburan seperti ini
dalam masa 5 tahun. Soalnya... Boleh ke?
Pembangunan yang lebih penting sebenarnya ialah pembangunan pelajaran!
Bukannya dengan membina dan menyusub batu-batan sehingga mencakar langit
tingginya dan memburu awan terbangnya.
Rencana Asiaweek bertajuk "Forget Infrastructure. It's the
Software, Stupid!" yang lalu telah mengupas perkara sedemikian.
Antara kesilapan atau masalah yang ditimbul ialah:
Source: Asia Times http://www.atimes.com/
Awesome but stupid: Malaysia loses the IT plot
By Anil Netto
Envious eyes in Malaysia must be looking westward at the knowledge workers
India is churning out. If only Malaysia, with its massive investment in
infrastructure, had India's breeding ground for software talent, then its
information technology industry would really take off.
A mainstream newspaper last week headlined computer software tycoon Bill
Gates's description of Malaysia's Multimedia Super Corridor, a huge
fiber-optic-wired high-tech zone south of Kuala Lumpur, as "awesome".
"Outside the United States, you won't find a project where the scale of
the commitment and the energy put behind it is any greater than this one,"
Gates said of the MSC. That may be so. But lost in the small print
somewhere was the news that Gates, for all his gushing praise, had little
to offer in the way of fresh investment in the MSC.
In a memorandum of understanding signed with Malaysia's Multimedia
University, the new Microsoft Knowledge Capital Center in the MSC offered
to sponsor 10 million ringgit (US$2.6 million) worth of training and
development facilities and programs over the next five years.
Contrast that with Gates's announcement of a US$50 million expansion plan
for Microsoft Corp's development center in the southern Indian city of
Hyderabad - widely seen as a "vote of confidence" in India's human
resources despite its weak infrastructure and mass poverty. ''The key is
the quality of the human talent here [in India]. When people do software
projects in India, they do so because this is the place they can find
people with the latest skills. It is not on the [cheap] price [of
labor],'' Gates was quoted as saying by The Times of India newspaper.
That's not to say firms have not been drawn to Malaysia's MSC. They have.
Launched in 1996, the 15 by 50-kilometer MSC has lured investments from
362 high-tech companies and is well on course to reach its target of 500
by 2003. More than 14 billion ringgit has been invested in the MSC,
including 2 billion ringgit for a high-tech city, Cyberjaya; 3 billion
ringgit for the Petronas Twin Towers, the world's tallest building; and 9
billion ringgit for the new Kuala Lumpur airport. And Malaysia expects to
see returns of 20 billion ringgit over the next five years from these
But is Malaysia's IT industry missing the point? For the most part, the
approach has been "top-down", with the focus on infrastructure building in
the MSC zone, flagship applications, and the laying of fiber-optic cables
in the MSC. An article on the MSC in a regional magazine (Asiaweek) may
have summed it up aptly in its headline: "Forget Infrastructure. It's the
LACK OF SKILL
And it's the knowledge workers too. Already industry leaders have voiced
concern over Malaysia's lack of skilled local knowledge workers. Industry
experts have also pointed out that Malaysia may be overstretching itself
by focusing on too many, flagship applications such as telemedicine and
e-government. Instead, they say, Malaysia should focus on core
competencies such as applications for manufacturing, agriculture and
biotechnology. Local small- and medium-scale enterprises should be brought
into the mainstream of the nation's IT industry.
LACK OF 'REMOTE' ASSISTANCE
Critics have argued that a "bottom-up" approach would have been more
effective. They want the government to spend more on upgrading computer
literacy among the masses by improving public IT facilities and by
equipping all school classrooms and libraries with computers. Despite
several commendable projects geared to the grassroots among them mobile
Internet libraries for rural schools, rural telecenters, and computers in
public libraries these have only reached a minority. The funds allocated
for these projects pale in comparison with the billions funneled to the
LACK OF POWER
Thus Malaysia has a situation where it has an "awesome" MSC but in Sabah
and Sarawak states, across the South China Sea, some 700 schools remain in
depressing condition. "More than 600 schools need proper water supply
urgently while the others need electricity supply, better road
connections, better housing facilities for teachers and other necessities
for the standard of rural education to be improved," said Deputy Premier
Abdullah Badawi recently.
LACK OF CONNECTION
Nationwide, 5,010 out of over 7,000 primary schools are without computer
facilities. Among the over 1,500 secondary schools, about half do not have
computers. For those in computer-equipped schools, the limited number of
PCs means pupils have little meaningful IT exposure. As long as Malaysia
neglects IT in schools, the country will find it hard to produce the
software engineers needed to lift it to par with the developed nations.
LACK OF FUNDING
Another woe is the difficulty entrepreneurs face in sourcing development
capital for software and multimedia development. An IT expert has blamed
local financiers for operating with an outdated mindset that stresses
manufacturing and physical assets over intellectual capital.
Foreign venture capital firms, on the other hand, are wary of expanding
into Malaysia mainly out of fear that they may not be able to exit fast
enough should things go wrong. With nine out of 10 dotcom firms flopping,
venture capital firms want to make sure they have a easy escape route -
but Malaysia's capital controls put some of them off.
LACK OF CLIMATE
Analysts say the political climate also plays a part in limiting
creativity. If repressive laws continue to stifle alternative and critical
thinking, how, they ask, can Malaysia expect to produce the climate of
freedom that is necessary for creative minds to flourish? "If Malaysia
keeps repressing dissenting views on politics and indeed the economy, in
print, public discourse or parliamentary debates, the perception is that
the Malaysian state is untrustworthy," says political scientist Andrew
LACK OF DIRECT ADVICE?
The Internet has created a borderless world where distances and
geographical location should count for little. But Mahathir's plan to
inject the bulk of the nation's IT spending into the MSC seems at odds
with that borderless concept. Perhaps he would do well to heed some sound
advice from Diana Lady Dougan, a member of the MSC's International
Advisory Panel: "Don't concentrate too much on the technology and
improving the economy, but also [consider the] quality of life."
(Special to Asia Times Online)