Posts Tagged ‘government’

Open Source Saves Malaysian Government RM188 Million

A money clipBack in January 2009, we found out that the Malaysian Government had saved about RM40 million using open source. In a little over a year, that number has been topped: over the past six years, the total costs savings are now quoted to be RM188.39 million (USD$58.54 million)! That’s a hell of a lot of money for software licenses, don’t you think?

Worth noting is that before the OSS Master Plan started, there were zero companies supporting OSS registered with the Ministry of Finance. Now more than half of the 4,000 companies do (53% is the quoted number). For more information, read the latest newsletter from MAMPU’s OSCC. Key takeaways:

  1. Saved RM188.39 million on software licenses over six years
  2. Successful OSS adoption in 691 government agencies by the end of 2009 (till April 1 2010, the number looks like it has increased to 699 agencies).
  3. In total, 95% of agencies are adopting some form of OSS solution, 87% are using it for back-end infrastructure (here its clear there’s Linux, MySQL in use), and 66% are using OSS on the desktop! (via and Firefox)*

* – Software use extrapolated from the actual OSS Master plan, and what was in the report in January 2009. I’m sure Joomla! is also used quite heavily, but never recall seeing it as the choice for CMS in the plan.

MyEG, JPJ, VicRoads on road taxes: the difference is trust?

On Twitter today, Christopher Tock stated:

If @myegclub cld have a service to notify road tax of a car nearing expiry date, I’m sure it’ll get more ppl to register under them! ;) #fb

I replied:

Instead, why not send new road tax one month before expiry by mail, and get payment via @myegclub ? @spinzer @nikicheong

Christopher then asked about the situation in which people don’t pay, and they receive their registration labels by mail. And Niki Cheong said that “many people try to find their way around paying for stuff here. ingrained in our lives”.

VicRoads website It got me thinking. In Victoria, Australia, VicRoads sends out registration labels and the certificate every year, about a month before expiry. You then head online, and pay for your registration using your credit card. I believe you might also be able to pay for it in cash at various locations (post office, etc.), though I’ve always done it online. You never ask – what if I don’t pay for it. You just do. I’m sure there are stiff penalties for lacking payment. But the process is easy – it comes to you, there’s no need to remember when things are expiring, and you can pay for it online, all without leaving the comfort of your home.

In Malaysia, JPJ does not remind you when your road tax is expiring. The onus is on you to know this. You then have to head to the post office to pay for it and get the registration label, and settle your insurance at the same time. Or you can avoid all this by sending it to your car’s service centre and they’ll take about two days to sort this out for you. Insurance can be paid via credit card, but your road tax needs to be in cash (or so UMW-Toyota tells me).

JPJ websiteThe government of Malaysia is heavily pushing their e-government services portal – MyEG. You can now renew your road tax online, thus getting rid of the whole visiting the post office or your manufacturer’s service centre. This is similar to what VicRoads does – you enter your registration number and it will tell you if you have a payment to be made or not. This is a step forward – except for the fact, that there is no reminder for you to renew your road tax!

Will it be hard to implement? Of course not. Part of the registration for MyEG includes you giving away your identity card (IC) number. A simple change to the database can ensure that you can tie several cars to your account and you can thus make payment on them. MyEG will know when the road tax is expiring, and a simple SMS message might suffice (bulk SMS costs are cheap). And if they’re more trusting, mailing out of the labels themselves!

But I guess Niki is right – it is ingrained that Malaysians might want to find away around the system, if the labels were sent out, pre-payment. Take a look at petrol kiosks: in Australia, you pump your petrol first, then go in to make the payment. You don’t think about running away after getting your full tank. You do this no matter how much petrol costs. In Malaysia, you pay for your petrol first. Either at the counter, or via credit card authorisation. No payment, no petrol.

I sincerely hope MyEG/JPJ figure this out at some stage. As we move towards a more knowledge-based economy, and the goals of the government certainly include getting Malaysia more in-tune with the rest of the First World, it probably makes sense that service delivery takes a notch up.

As a quick aside, do look at both the VicRoads and the JPJ website. Look at how the information is architected. How its presented. Its an interesting comparison. I wonder how many web designers go through this sort of thought process, when thinking about designing websites that are targeted for mass consumption of government services.

Quran’s costing RM1.3 million – wisest use of tax payer money?

This was in the news recently: Quran in hotel rooms soon. Excerpts:

A copy of the Quran and its intepretation will be made available in most hotel rooms in the country to allow both Muslims and non-Muslims to have “access” to the Holy book.

Ahmad Zahid said Jakim would be printing another 50,000 copies of the Quran’s interpretation for the purpose, costing some RM1.3mil, adding these books were in English to cater to foreign visitors and tourists.

50,000 copies. RM1.3 million. RM26 per Quran. Jakim is the Department of Islamic Development, Malaysia. It’s a Malaysian Government institution.

Now, if you’re in a 3-star hotel or above, you’re getting a Quran, courtesy of the Malaysian Government. Courtesy of your tax payer ringgit. I think there’s better ways to spend RM1.3 million of money from the rakyat – let’s feed and shelter the homeless, for a start.

Another healthy way the government of the day, is spending your hard earned tax ringgit!

Update: @nazroll tells me that this comes out of zakat payments, that only Muslims pay. I still believe there are better ways to spend zakat payments, but I don’t run the country, now do I? Zakat from the Malaysian government or Zakat via Wikipedia… Wikipedia describes zakat as “alms for the poor” – I don’t know how accurate that is, but if you’re staying in a 3-star hotel and above, you aren’t exactly poor ;)

Next up, time to read up on Islamic Banking/Economics. Looks like an interesting topic! (I mean I’m bombarded with signs about it, let’s see how it compares with regular banking)

Update 2: There was active chatter on Twitter! @ditesh tells us that the zakat is a tax credit, and Wikipedia explains the taxation behind it. @nazroll continues to tell us that development is OK, and people are curious to know how the money is spent, and it is available upon request. Lots worry about accountability, and @nazroll hits it spot on.

Open Source Economy Conference 2008

Last week I found out about the Open Source Economy Conference 2008 held in Putrajaya, Malaysia on the 19th of November 2008. Its co-organised by Sun and the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC). Its also the “launch” of MySQL in Malaysia.

I only mention this because I’m speaking – check the agenda out. Don’t hesitate to register now.

Malaysian Government releases first Open Source software package – MyMeeting

Today marks a big day in the history of the Malaysian Government – they’ve released their first fully open source software package, MyMeeting.

Poking around their Trac installation, they use PHP and MySQL 5 (5.0.51a from Ubuntu, even!). Of course their install documentation suggests a lot of Windows usage, but this is a step in the right direction.

Give it a twirl. Report bugs. How many more governments out there are writing and releasing open source software packages? Or is this a first?

Free and Open Source Software: Use and Production by the Brazilian Government

First up, I want to say, I’m truly impressed with Brazil. One day I will visit this amazing place, and spread the good word of open source with projects that are close to my heart: MySQL,, Fedora, and in due time, a lot more. This is a live-blog, from a most interesting talk, at JavaOne 2008. As I wrote on Twitter, “Brazil, simply impresses me. Their use of open source in government, makes me think that the rest of the world has a lot to learn from them”.

Free and Open Source Software: Use and Production by the Brazilian Government
Rogerio Santana <> +55 61 313 1400, Logistics and Information Technology Secretariat
Planning, Budget and Management Ministry
Brazilian Government

Households with Internet access: 70% in the US4k household income range. 70% of households have mobile phones (even when total revenue is USD$2k). Middle and upper class are all, generally on the Internet.

In 2007, 98% of Income Tax has been sent by the Internet. By 2009, there’s only going to be use of a Java application for this. About 17.5 million people filed via the Internet. Impressive.

Brazil has 142k public schools – 26k are connected to the Internet now (18%), and 92% are connected at low speed, while 8% have 512kbps connections.

Plan? Free Internet for schools, from 2008-2025. 1mbps for each connection, growth plans in the next 3 years.

There exists Computer Reconditioning Centres (CRCs) for recycling PCs. (e-PING: e-Government Interoperability Standards) (e-MAG: e-Government Accessibility Model)

Brazil has been using electronic voting since 1995. 136.8 million people voted in 2006 election. Next version of vote machines will use GNU/Linux!

Open Standards. Interoperability. Free Software. Free License. Community.

e-PING: uses XML, browser compliant, they have metadata standards

Many organisations of the Brazilian Government use Java as a primary development platform. Remember, Java is important because its the first that allowed even Linux users to interact with government applications.

Brazilian Digital Television? Middle-ware responsible for the interactive process of digital TV also developed in Java. (Ginga is the name of the application).

In education? Enrolment is done via the Internet for universities. e-Proinfo is an e-learning project that has already trained 50k students.

Developing clusters and grids, with focus on high availability, load balancing, database replication, distributed mass storage, and virtualization. The government is backing this, since 2006.