Thursday, July 8, 1999 Published at 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Cyberjaya opens for e-business
Dr Mahathir has high hopes for the mutimedia city
The Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohammed, has opened a new multimedia garden city known as Cyberjaya which he says will be the nerve centre of the country's high-technology development.
Designed to be the Malaysian answer to Silicon Valley, it will be intelligent, high-tech, low density and environmentally friendly.
For the moment Cyberjaya, situated 40km south of the capital, is still a dusty building site and most of its inhabitants are immigrant Bangladeshi and Indonesian construction workers.
Many have been attracted by generous tax incentives offered by the Malaysian Government.
The developers say the vision behind the new city is one which fuses man's technological ingenuity with nature's bounty.
The city lies at the heart of Malaysia's so-called Multimedia Super-Corridor (MSC), with the soaring heights of the Petronas Towers - the world's tallest building - at one end and the new Kuala Lumpur International Airport at the other.
The MSC will also be home to Malaysia's new administrative capital, Putrajaya, which is also under construction.
Dr Mahathir sees the project as being the key to Malaysia's entry into developed world status by the year 2020 - a concept he calls Vision 2020.
"The MSC initiative will carry the Malaysian success story of growth and stability well into the next millennium," he said.
In the next millennium, it is expected that Cyberjaya will be a place where children go to "smart" schools and "smart" hospitals, wired up for long distance interactive learning and telemedicine.
There will be electronic shopping and banking, online libraries and a central billing system, all working off solar power.
But new cities do not come cheap and Malaysia has already spent heavily on a new administrative capital and the tallest building in the world.
Critics of the project say Dr Mahathir has what they call an edifice complex, spending large amounts of public money on monumental projects whilst ignoring low cost housing for the poor.
But Dr Mahathir says there will always be snide remarks about his achievements.
He is adamant the government will make money out of Cyberjaya.