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Malaysia gets behind open source

The Malaysian government reaffirms its support for open-source software, saying it has a "strategic role" in boosting developing economies.

The Malaysian government has reaffirmed its support for the use and development of open-source software, saying it has a "strategic role."

"Open-source software gives the chance for Malaysia and other developing nations to boost their economies?Therefore, it is only natural that the government should now be examining the strategic role that we can play to encourage the adoption of open source by the entire Malaysian infocommunications industry," Amar Leo Moggie, minister of Energy, Communications and Multimedia, said in a report by official news agency Bernama.

The government is conducting pilot studies to better understand the problems and benefits of migrating to open source in addition to creating centers to promote and provide training on open-source software, he added.

Moggie was speaking at the Free & Open Source Software Conference 2003, this week in Malaysia. Speakers included Jon "maddog" Hall, president of Linux information group Linux International, as well as David Axmark, co-founder of open-source database software company MySQL.

Moggie said a clear government policy on open-source software would encourage the civil service to deploy open-source solutions and stimulate the use of open source in the wider economy. The Malaysian government encouraged the civil service to evaluate and procure open-source software wherever possible, Moggie said, noting that an over-reliance on "foreign proprietary software" would hurt the country.

"To build better software for tomorrow, we need to understand exactly how today's software works," he said. "We are limited to being users of the software and are consumers of somebody else's product?Malaysia has little chance of being a world leader in proprietary software."

Previous reports said Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has a personal interest in open-source software and has urged the civil service to use it.

Malaysia is among several Asian countries that is promoting open-source software such as the Linux and OpenBSD operating systems.

In addition to using open-source software to increase national information technology skills and to gain a greater information security through the inspection of the source code, governments also see its promotion as a way of gaining a bargaining advantage with vendors of proprietary software such as Microsoft and Oracle.

CNETAsia staff reported from Singapore.