Hikmat skedded to take over development

KUALA LUMPUR — The floundering Entertainment Village, a $790 million complex that was supposed to turn Malaysia into Asia’s leading film and TV center, is once again on the brink of collapse — but a rescue mission is underway.

The complex’s water supply was turned off on Tuesday and it faces imminent power disconnection as unpaid utility bills hit $50,000 amid wider debts of $14 million.

Multimedia Development Corp., the agency that oversees E-Village, hopes a white knight will ride to the rescue in the form of industrial conglom Budaya Hikmat after bids from a local consortium fell through last summer.

Budaya Hikmat, owned by reclusive tycoon Syed Mokhtar, first expressed interest in E-Village last July. It will be the conglom’s first foray into the entertainment biz. But MDC is still waiting for a deal to come through.

“Budaya Hikmat is scheduled to take over the development of the project and the matter (of the debts) is expected to be resolved by then,” said an MDC statement.

Since Prime Minister Mahathir opened the first of eight planned soundstages in September 2000. Since then the facility has struggled to attract local and foreign productions and to persuade producers and service companies to set up shop on the lot. It currently houses one tenant.

Entertainment Village SDN BHD, the company that won the contract from the government to develop the E-Village, shuttered at the end of May, and all staffers were laid off.

Mokhtar is linked to investments made by the Selangor State Government which owns three-quarters of the 2,000 acres earmarked for development of the nation’s multimedia industry within the high-tech Multimedia Super Corridor.

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