PENANG: Microfair 2003, postponed from May due to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) scare, opened yesterday with a robust crowd filling the Penang International Sports Arena in Relau.
The crowd took advantage of the school holidays to check out the latest to be offered at the three-day fair.
A highly competitive atmosphere prevailed with over 70 companies, taking up 108 exhibition booths, cranking up the volume of their speakers and their staff busily distributing brochures to visitors.
Computer companies, accessories shops, software dealers, digital cameras and surveillance systems sellers, a bank, a securities firm, and job recruitment agencies were present to woo the crowd.
The eLearning Centre, distributing free educational CDs developed by the Education Ministry, saw a big crowd of students, parents and teachers lining up to register for the CDs.
The Labour of Love VCDs on former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad were also snapped up.
German A. Michels, 62, who got a copy of the VCD, said Dr Mahathir was a good leader who managed the country well despite its multi-racial population.
Michels, a retired electronic technician married to a Malaysian, felt the products here were a little behind compared to Germany, although the prices were cheaper.
Colleagues Steven Hor, 39 and Pang Yeow Keong, 35, turned up during lunch break to collect brochures so they could return during the weekend to do some real shopping.
Earlier, when opening the fair, Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said Penang was poised to be a major IT hub given the pool of people skilled in ICT, a good suppliers base and its broadband infrastructure.
He said Penang had its strength in computer hardware just as Bangalore in India was strong in its software expertise.
Microfair organising chairman and Star Publications (M) Bhd regional director Datuk Seri Kamal Hashim said despite the earlier postponement, Microfair still managed to attract the IT companies to take up over 100 booths.
Organised by The Star and Star In.Tech, the fair also features the Buy & Win Contest which offers RM20,000 worth of prizes, including the top prize of a Toshiba Satellite A10-S431 computer worth RM6,588.
Other activities include a technology showcase on Apple’s new operating system MAC OS 10.3, talks on PDAs, Adobe Photoshop for beginners and a daily digital imaging workshop.
Admission to the fair, open from 11am to 10pm, is free.