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Malaysian prime minister to visit Stanford Jan. 15-16

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad will bring his plans to turn Malaysia into a world center for multimedia development to the Stanford campus during a two-day visit Jan. 15 and 16.

Malaysia has created the Multimedia Development Corp. with plans for a project in Kuala Lumpur that eventually will cost $20 billion to $40 billion, including buildings wired for state-of-the-art information technology applications. Mahathir's declared goal is to create a center that will be the world's leader in multimedia development and application.

Work is now under way to make Kuala Lumpur International Airport one of the largest in the world. The new City Center development provides residential and business facilities in two towers each rising 1,480 feet. Plans call for constructing Information Technology City to support a working population of 150,000 plus residences for more than 100,000.

"We are talking about changing the way we live and work within the Multimedia Super Corridor," Mahathir said in an August speech in the Malaysian capital. "It will be the R&D center for the world's information-based industries."

Mahathir will give a public address at 1 p.m. Jan. 15 in Memorial Auditorium, sponsored by the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He also will meet with leaders of U.S. high-technology companies on Jan. 16 in a closed session to discuss the Multimedia Super Corridor project.

Kenichi Ohmae, a visiting professor of management at the Business School, was instrumental in arranging the Mahathir visit. The idea stemmed from an informal discussion among Business School faculty about the shift from economic development controlled by a single government to broader economic regions that don't coincide with political boundaries. Ohmae argued that regional economic centers that attracted participation by various governments and international companies are the most important types of developments in today's global economy.


By Cathy Castillo