|Laman Webantu KM2: 6569 File Size: 10.8 Kb *|
AWise: Corridor To Where, Exactly? [MSC]
By Leonie Karkoviata
7/1/2002 9:43 pm Mon
Corridor To Where, Exactly?
By Leonie Karkoviata
Malaysians seem to be waking up to find their big IT dream squaring
with reality. Their Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), Malaysia's
ambitious New Economy mega-development, seems more like a
complex property development than a mighty economic launch pad
to propel Malaysia onto the world media stage.
The project is supposed to fill a 15-kilometer tract leading south
from the capital's storied Petronas Towers through the Klang Valley
that surrounds Kuala Lumpur to the new International Airport (KLIA).
Besides being populated by hundreds of companies set in
campus-like spaces, the strip is reserved for conference, hotel and
recreational facilities as well as housing.
Several big names, though not nearly enough of them, have signed
up for MSC space in hopes of winning government favor. Oracle,
Sun Micro and mobile giant Ericsson are all signed up. But
Ericsson, to illustrate the problem, has taken only enough space to
house its local R&D unit and is disinclined to move its main
operation located elsewhere in the Klang Valley to the MSC.
The government's Multimedia Development Corporation (MDC) says
it has already topped its 2003 target of recruiting 500 MSC status
companies. But only 54 of the 535 companies have opted to locate
in Cyberjaya, the project's supposed nerve center. Are most foreign
recruits only here to set up glorified sales offices? Many doubt that
the firms -- mostly hardware and software vendors, consultants and
the like -- will make for much new technology or contribute greatly
to the economy, for that matter.
As the MDC defines it, an MSC status company provides or is a
"heavy user" of multimedia products and services, and employs a
substantial number of knowledge workers. One requirement
stipulates companies must locate operations in one of the four
"cyber-cities" within the MSC. Besides the 54 companies in
Cyberjaya, there are 39 in Petronas Tower 2, 20 at UPM Research
Park and 71 at the Bukit Jalil Technology Park.
Among the government's incentives are tax breaks and R&D grants.
But as executives at Malaysian MSC status companies point out,
tax breaks really only benefit profitable companies, not start ups like
these. The MSC's much trumpeted formal networking events are few
and far between, they say, partly because people worth networking
with are pretty sparse.
The unsuperlike pace of the MSC's development combined with
declining IT investment and an economic condition that some
analysts call recession has many wondering if the Prime Minister
Mahathir Mohamad's vision has lost its luster.
Besides blaming stuttering MSC development on the economic
slowdown, the project's detractors blame poor management by the
MDC, who have succeeded in attracting only a few global
technology players or export-oriented tech companies.
Microsoft's Bill Gates once commented that "outside the U.S., you
will not find a project of [MSC's] scale, commitment and energy..."
But stirring as his words were, Microsoft decided to put its first
development center outside its Redmond, Washington base in
Bangalore, which, unlike the MSC, is loaded with talent.
MDC executive director, Othman Yeop, brushed aside talk of
Malaysia's lack of talent, saying MSC can attract multinational
corporations (MNCs) interested in centralizing regional operations in
Malaysia. He cited "positive responses from companies like Boeing
who like Malaysia's cost of business equation, infrastructure -- and
talent pool, apparently. But IT entrepreneurs say Malaysia suffers
from a brain drain as people leave for better paying opportunities
elsewhere. Omar Merican, CEO of venture capital firm Banyan
Ventures, certainly believes that. "My staff hate me for saying this,"
he says, "but one can earn twice as much in Singapore, and
maybe even more in Hong Kong."
Steven Hsia, CEO of Delerium Cybertouch, says the government
should forget about all the MSC infrastructure hoopla and focus on
cutting the talent drain to Singapore.
But, getting down to cases, what is the MSC really all about? "The
MSC is a property play, an extension of Klang Valley growth,"
insists Ho Chin Soon, Principal of Ho Chin Soon Research, echoing
comments often heard in Hong Kong about that city's Cyberport. "It
has nothing to do with IT." Since 1993 when the decision to build a
new airport south of the capital was announced, large tracts of land
between the city center and the KLIA threatened to become
speculative hot spots.
The government's decision to develop the 167,000-acre tract might
have spurred a property boom, you would have thought. Besides
Cyberjaya, the MSC comprises Putrajaya, the government's
administrative capital, and other existing or new townships. Ho,
whose company specializes in collecting property market data,
recalls how homeowners in the corridor expected to see their
investments double in value overnight.
But despite the corridor's rich lattice of fiber optics, property values
in the MSC hardly moved. "Property value is governed by supply
and demand," Ho says, not unreasonably. "And right now, there is
an oversupply in the whole Klang Valley."
Take Putrajaya's attempt to launch a project comprising 1.2 million
sq. ft. (113,636 sq. m.) of commercial space this year and its plans
to develop 4 million sq. ft (378,787 sq. m.) of commercial property
by 2003. According to the December 2000 data, the most recent
available at the National Property Information Centre (NAPIC), there
was an oversupply of 268,573 sq. meters in Kuala Lumpur where
occupancy averages 76%. Currently available commercial space is
pegged at 1.411 million sq. meters in KL. And with 36 more
shopping complexes approved for development in the city, the glut
promises to last a long time.
Little wonder that Putrajaya Holdings, the master developer of
Putrajaya, admits that the targeted 2010 completion of the
administrative capital may be delayed by up to five years. Yet,
Putrajaya CEO Hashim Hassan thinks the company can still
achieve an 80% occupancy rate. He says the oversupply is
compounded by inadequate project monitoring and indiscriminate
development. Putrajaya, he says, will avoid those pitfalls because it
is "a planned city with strict development controls".
Property analysts are unconvinced that the MSC will overtake the
older established city centre known as the Golden Triangle. A
JonesLangWootton analyst says, "You can't compare the two. [The
Golden Triangle] has all the facilities that make it a real hub -- the
malls, movies, embassies, commercial areas and residential
cachement. The MSC's market is one dimensional. You've got
Putrajaya and CyberJaya. No one is prepared to go to Cyberjaya
or Putrajaya when they're already in the more central Golden
Triangle." Despite the MDC's assurances that the MSC surpasses
expectations, the organization knows it needs help. It paid
McKinsey and Co. 1.5 million Malysian ringgit to rethink MDC
strategy based on realistic market conditions and provide and
assessment of the corridor's completion. Unfortunately for the MDC,
details of a draft of the McKinsey and Co. findings were leaked to
the Asian Wall Street Journal.
Ho says, " From a real estate point of view, the MSC can't go
wrong. They are in the right area to meet the growth flowing out of
the city center. They just can't expect to do it overnight."
Furthermore Ho says, "The MSC is a mindset. It's about growth,
development, progress." So when the government starts making
noises about censoring Internet content, Malaysians like Ho feel
such actions defeat the spirit of the MSC. "If they do that, then
there's nothing in the MSC. And it becomes little more than just
Oracle, Sun Microsystems, and Ericsson have either a token office
within the corridor or have moved into Petronas Tower II, speaking
of property plays. Rentals at Tower II hover around RM 80 per sq.
meter, compared to RM 25 per sq. meter elsewhere in the
neighborhood. Tower II is much preferred to Cyberjaya off in the
boonies by companies who can afford the rents. For many
companies, meeting MSC location requirements is enough to justify
Tower II scale rents. Though Tower II is still only 50% occupied,
there are no plans to scale back rents. But why bother, given the
alternative the captive MSC market is faced with.
Malaysia's Property Market Expected To Weaken
November 15, 2001
MALAYSIA'S property market is expected to weaken due to a
decline in consumer confidence as a result of recent global events,
an international property consultancy firm warns.
C H Williams Talhar & Wong Sdn Bhd's managing director John S C
Loh said property market conditions are expected to worsen next
year after a difficult year in 2001, with investors expecting further
falls in price and rent levels.
Loh, who launched the company's CEO Opinion Survey Property
Sector 2002 on November 13, said there is an urgent need for
According to the survey, the conventional housing sub-sector is
expected to continue to grow, with increasing capital values. Over
two-thirds of the respondents are of the opinion that capital values
for conventional and low-cost housing will increase.
Rental values are expected to decrease for all sub-sectors except
conventional and low cost housing. Greater pressure on rents is
expected for office and industrial premises with some CEOs
expecting rents to be reduced by more than 20 per cent.
More than 50 per cent of respondents feel that the transaction
volume and values of Malaysian investors would likely decrease in
2002. Only one-third thinks the transaction volume and values of
foreign investors would decrease in 2002.
The oversupply situation for offices, retail and industrial space in
2001 has become more serious, with the hotel and condominium
sub-sectors also experiencing a glut.
However, the survey found that the outlook for conventional and
low-cost housing in 2002 remains healthy, due to a continuing
demand for such products. The sector is expected to remain stable
over the next three to five years. - Asiafeatures.com