By Athi Shankar, 14 April 2012
It would save millions of ringgit for Malaysian consumers and companies, says Consumer Association of Penang.
I refer to the following article from Malaysia, as it would also save Cambodia millions of dollars if a similar approach would really be taken by many: if more government agencies, private companies and civil society organizations, and more individuals would follow the government guidelines given by the Deputy Prime Minister Sok An already a long time ago, supporting freedom of choice and independence in the ICT sector, during a high level 3-days policy seminar on Information Technology Awareness, in September 2001. He said there:
- “All laws, regulations and policies in the IT sector will reflect the following guiding spirit and philosophy:
- - to uphold the interests of the consumers and general public,
- - to guarantee security of information, while facilitating the broadest possible access to public information,
- - to respect individual rights, and – to avoid dependency on proprietary systems, instead promoting open systems and interoperability.”
Avoiding dependency on proprietary systems is also what is proposed in the following article from Malaysia. Here are examples the Consumer Association of Penang is showing “how to avoid dependency on proprietary systems” as similarly proposed by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.
Malaysian Ringgit 242 million correspond to over US$77 million. And this is the possible savings in Government Departments only.These two examples are from the website of the Consumer Association of Penang.
GEORGE TOWN/PENANG: Malaysia should take the lead and implement policies to transform the country into an international Open-Source Software (OSS) hub, Consumer Association of Penang said here today.
Consumer Association of Penang president SM Mohamed Idris suggested that the government form a specific agency to formulate policies to make Malaysia the leader in the promotion and development of Open-Source Software. He urged the government to take the initiative to make the country an Open-Source Software hub that would save millions of ringgit for Malaysian consumers and companies.
He said it would create jobs and develop skills for local manpower, providing the competitive cutting-edge expertise and support services for the huge Open-Source Software market worldwide.
Studies showed that the adoption of Open-Source Software models has saved RM60 billion annually worldwide. Malaysian consumers could be saving more than RM400 million [approx. more that US$125 million] a year if the products of Microsoft and Oracle are substituted. Government agencies like the Malaysian Administrative Modernization and Management Planning Unit have saved RM242 million [over US$77 million] after adopting Open-Source Software.
Why not expand the program to make Malaysia the Open-Source Software leader? Idris told a press conference in Consumer Association of Penang office here today. Also present was visiting India Professor CK Raju, who is currently attached to the School of Mathematical Sciences at Universiti Sains Malaysia.
Idris said the current system of proprietary software, commonly used by Malaysians, has not been beneficial as local customers were paying a steep price for using the licensed software, or else they risked being penalized for using pirated versions. Consumer Association of Penang is perturbed by the exploitation of consumers by proprietary software companies, he said. He added that Malaysians were also paying for the Microsoft windows operating system packaged in desktop and laptop purchases, thus restricting their choice.
Consumer rights While unsophisticated consumers would not notice the extra cost involved, he said sophisticated consumers could lose money due to lack of option to obtain the computer with Open-Source Software. Thus, he said the government should legalize the requirement to offer consumers the choice of Open-Source Software on all machines.
Consumers are forced to pay for Microsoft software whether they want it or not. We are denied our consumer rights, Idris said. He added that most Malaysians were unaware that Open-Source Software has commonly used applications and has been available for free.
He urged the government to form centers to disseminate information on Open-Source Software. He said free Open-Source Software has good alternatives to proprietary software for most common applications.
He noted that Open-Source Software has Open Office [and now Libre Office] to replace Microsoft Office in general office applications, GIMP for Photoshop in image editing, Mozilla Firefox for Internet Explorer in Internet browsing, VLC for Windows Media Player for videos and sound playback, Calibre for Adobe Reader in reading ebooks and Ubuntu for Microsoft Windows in operating systems.
There are many more such Open-Source Software applications that are excellent and are in some ways better than the proprietary software, Idris said. He urged the government to form a special agency, like the Malaysian Administrative Modernization and Management Planning Unit, to encourage the use of Open-Source Software for the national economy, adding that small and medium enterprises and major users such as multi-national corporations should also be encouraged to use Open-Source Software.
He also urged the government to establish supporting centers for Open-Source Software development. He said such centers can also function as training centers for Open-Source Software, adding that they can become self-sustaining in the long run.
He said universities and research institutes should be encouraged to develop and use Open-Source Software educational software instead of proprietary software such as Matlab and Mathematica. All these will encourage people to look upon Open-Source Software development in terms of entrepreneurship. It will boost Malaysia to emerge as a hub for skilled manpower, Idris said.
Fortunately, the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in line with the “regulations and policies in the IT sector” and the “guiding spirit and philosophy” declared by the Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in 2001, as the Master Plan for ICT in Education of the Ministry shows. It is worth while to study it to see – and implement – its important implications for the future development of the information and communication technology sector – and for the whole society of the country.