(Mar 22): When it comes to tech start-up hubs in Southeast Asia, entrepreneurs sometimes look past Malaysia to the lure of Singapore’s vibrant financial centre or Indonesia’s attractiveness as the region’s largest economy.

They shouldn’t, said a former Microsoft Corp. executive who’s now in charge of driving the country’s digital economy. Policy makers are serious about developing the sector that created more than 170,000 new jobs and contributed 18.2% of gross domestic product in 2017, said Yasmin Mahmood, chief executive officer of government agency Malaysia Digital Economy Corp.

MDEC’s initiatives to encourage entrepreneurs to set up shop in the country of 32 million people span new immigration policies and tax incentives, Yasmin said in an interview in Singapore Tuesday. Malaysia grants a one-year visit pass for tech entrepreneurs based overseas and up to a decade of tax exemption for startups, including those that are fully foreign-owned, she said.

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