Sunday, November 04, 2007

Mickey Mouse going to Malaysia?

This is an old story that just won't die, but not as old as Mickey Mouse (Image from Wikipedia)

According to Malaysian weekly The Edge, Walt Disney Co is looking to build a theme park on a 500-acre (202-hectare) site in southern Malaysia. The theme park will reportedly be sited at Bardar Nusajaya near the second link bridge in the Iskandar Development Region zone in Johor. The report said it would be ready in six years if a deal is signed.

The proposed Disneyland theme park and resort is slated to be bigger than Hong Kong Disneyland and about the size of Tokyo Disney Resort, the report said. Although the talks with Disney are progressing fast, discussions with other theme park operators, including Warner Bros Entertainment and MGM, have not ceased, the report said.

Will Mickey Mouse learn to speak Malay and appear at the theme park in Johor, which is next to Singapore?

Can Disney compete with the two integrated resorts and casinos that are coming up in Singapore? Las Vegas Sands and Genting International have gone full-steam ahead in building their resorts that are expected to be completed in 3-4 years. The casinos in Singapore are set to attract many gamblers and their families to Singapore. Casinos can help subsidise the rest of the resorts and theme park that are generally less profitable.

But any new theme park or resort in Malaysia won't have a casino. Unlike Singapore, Malaysia still has a ban on new casinos or gaming outlets since it granted the sole casino licence to the late Lim Goh Tong's Genting more than four decades ago.

Maybe there will still be room for Mickey Mouse in Malaysia as its concept is different from the two resorts in Singapore. But there are many problems at the Johor end.

Johor has the land and the resources to undercut Singapore but Malaysian planners simply lack the ability to execute their grand plans.

Johor has a long history of false starts in many overly ambitious projects -- Desaru, Waterfront City, a theme park by ex-UN Sec Gen, and even Universal Studios, which has since teamed up with Genting for the resort on Sentosa in Singapore.

The Iskandar Development Region is a grand plan but the government can't even resolve some basic problems in the state like proper city planning (Malaysia has since scrapped the proposed passport-free zones in Johor), crime, flooding and the failed attempt to jointly build a new bridge to replace the old causeway with Singapore.

So don't bet your last dollar that Mickey Mouse will finally learn to say "Selamat Datang ke Malaysia"*.

* Welcome to Malaysia in Malay


The Oriental Express said...

Mickey will be suffocated before he could even greet his visitors, "Selamat Pagi!"

Malaysia should tidy up her internal mess first before taking in more foreign investments...corruption, increasing crime rate, etc.

I'd rather spend a little more $$ in Tokyo or USA where it is safer.

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