Friday, June 02, 2006

Mickey Mouse in Johor

The Magic Kingdom - Mickey Mouse make a permanent appearance in Johor, Malaysia? According to UEM World and some Malaysian government officials, that is a 'Yes'. According to them, negotiations with Oriental Land Company (OLC), the company that operates Tokyo Disneyland, are progressing well, with a huge piece of land in Johor earmarked for the giant amusement park. Strangly, though, Walt Disney Company is denying all this and says that it has no intention of setting up Disneyland in Johor, much less Malaysia. Are the Malaysians getting ahead of themselves on this without first verifying if indeed the Mouse is looking for a permanent home on Malaysian soil? If so, then this will be a huge embarrassment for them. Coincidentally, Singapore, its neighbour to the South, just announced the appointment of LA Sands to build its multi-billion dollar Integrated Resort, which should be ready come 2009. Are the Malaysians trying to counter this with its own mega-amusement-park project? One can only speculate.

Whichever it is, one thing works against a permanent home for an all-American institution in a largely Muslim country. It doesn't take an analyst with PhD credentials to tell you that a Disneyland Theme Park in a Muslim-dominant country (such as Malaysia) will be a ready and fantastic target for fanantical Muslim extremist to practice their bombing and suicide skills. Their hatred for all things American is a well known fact. So even if, for some inexplicable reason, Disneyland becomes a reality in Johor, the terrorism insurance expenses alone will be humongous. On balance, I think Johor has popped its champagne a bit too early. It should get rid of terrorists first so that Mickey Mouse can feel much safer planting its feet on Malaysia soil. On the other hand, Johor's loss may be Singapore's gain, going by speculation that Mickey may be looking for a home in the Lion City and eventually building its Magic Kingdom here.

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