M'sia govt touts 95 percent OSS adoption

Majority of Malaysia's government agencies have adopted open source software, but remaining 5 percent has yet to do so due to resources, says government official.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor
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SINGAPORE--Some 95 percent of Malaysia's government agencies have adopted open source software (OSS), but the remaining 5 percent have not warmed to the concept--and is unlikely to anytime soon, according to a government official.

During her presentation at the GovTech 2010 conference here Thursday, Tan King Ing, deputy director of ICT policy and planning at the Malaysian Administrative Modernization and Management Planning Unit (Mampu), said some 691 government agencies in the country have adopted OSS. Mampu manages the Open Source Competency Centre, which was set up in 2004 as the government's open source software (OSS) masterplan to explore the use of OSS in the public sector.

While open source adoption efforts began in earnest in 2004 with 50 agencies, implementation figures began ramping up sharply in 2008 when Mampu introduced migration and documentation support to move government workers from proprietary office software to OpenOffice.org, said Tan.

Mampu in 2008 said 281 agencies had adopted OSS. By mid-2009, this figure rose to 71.1 percent.

Elaborating on the 5 percent that have not adopted OSS, Tan said these are "very small and far flung [user groups], without much IT resources or personnel", and therefore are unable to perform the migration for the time being.

Asked if these users will adopt OSS in the future, she said Mampu will continue to encourage them to do so.

Path to open source self-sufficiency
Describing the Malaysian government's path to OSS, she said there were legacy systems that were built on proprietary systems that did not interoperate.

The start of the initiative was also marked by "so much skepticism" toward OSS, prompting Mampu to drive five pilot projects to spread user acceptance, she said.

She added that governments looking to follow in Malaysia's footsteps should adopt a broad implementation roadmap that involves the ICT industry.

With the large majority of government bodies currently on OSS, Mampu's next goal is to help these agencies achieve self-sufficiency so that they would be able to support their own OSS implementations, and write their own in-house applications, said Tan.

"We want Malaysia to become a technology producer, rather than exclusively technology consumers," she said.

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