MSC must not fail a 2nd time

The sheer size of the international operation masterminded by China nationals on our soil has infuriated many

pic by BERNAMA

LAST week, a video of a large group of people running for cover during a raid by the Immigration Department at an international online scam operation based in Cyberjaya went viral on social media platforms.

The sheer size of the international operation masterminded by China nationals on our soil had infuriated many.

The raiding party managed to apprehend 680 Chinese nationals. More than 100 accomplices managed to scurry like a confronted squirrel through small holes during all the commotion and confusion.

But the masterminds behind this elaborate scheme are not daft. They are not some sleazy cheap alleyway operators, trying to con buyers with a fake Rolex for a fast buck.

Camouflaged as a call centre, they leased a corporate floor at mind-boggling RM360,000 a month.

The high-tech online scammers’ base was no chock-a-block and look more like a posh bank call centre.

Closely guarded by guards, access card-only entry and closed-circuit television cameras to secure the site — it gave legitimacy to the operation.

To top it all, there is no better place to fool the public than to have a call centre at Malaysia’s information technology (IT) cradle — Cyberjaya.

Foreigners are aplenty in the Multimedia Super Corridor’s (MSC) original birthplace of Cyberjaya, legitimising the ins and outs of illegals.

But the more pertinent question is — how did the country’s IT ambition turned into almost a nightmare?

It was just 21 years ago when representatives from global tech giants sat for two days to discuss how to push the MSC agenda forward within a complex hurriedly built within the plush of palm trees.

MSC was one of Malaysia’s grand plans to fuel the nation to achieve its Vision 2020. Malaysia was gallivanting into the future at a time when there was no Google, Facebook or WhatsApp.

Even Apple’s share price was less than US$0.50 (RM2.10) at that time.

The share price of the iPhone creator is around US$255 today.

Search engine Altavista was the king and had about 300,000 visitors daily when it debuted. Google LLC today processes 3.8 million searches every minute or 5.6 billion searches daily.

A local initiative in 1999 to compete with the big boys — Wau Mail — failed despite the enormous potential.

More than two decades have passed, the testbed of telemedicine, e-government and other tech initiatives has turned into a long-term tax-free heaven. The base of application developments has shifted into a flurry of call centres.

Creative content creation moved outside Cyberjaya as buildings outside the tech hub enjoyed the same perks as they would be operating in the tech holy land.

The MSC has all the grandeur, but a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Tech and application development perspectives have been a flop.

Although some may argue that there are success stories in the fields of creative content, game development, animation and the pool of developers, the MSC did not deliver its founding visions.

The international call centre scam base raid is all but the banana skin to MSC.

A major makeover of the MSC is critical. Government-backed funds have wasted enough time and money competing in the same stratosphere of old norms — property developments, commodities, carriers, infrastructure and banking.

The future will be driven by autonomous vehicles, data relays and sensors, artificial intelligence and human-less operations.

Electric powertrain will replace combustion engines. Facetime will be substituted by hologram projected image out of a watch.

The MSC has missed the boat once and it can’t afford a second failure or the country will be as dull as ditchwater. Quoting Queen’s song “We Are the Champions”…No time for losers.

Mohamad Azlan Jaafar is the editor-in-chief at The Malaysian Reserve.