Malaysia formally embraces Open Document Format

By Lynn Tan, ZDNet Asia
Monday, August 13, 2007 09:15 PM

The Malaysian government today announced plans to adopt open standards and the Open Document Format (ODF) within the country's public sector.

The Malaysian Administration Modernization and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) last week issued a tender for a nine-month study to evaluate the usage of open standards in its information communications technology (ICT) deployment. The study will also look into how the Malaysian public sector should migrate to open standards and the ODF, according to the Malaysia Open Source Software Alliance (MOSSA).

"The decision taken has been deliberated carefully for a considerable amount of time, and much thought process has been put into it," Nor Aliah Mohd. Zahri, ICT deputy director general at MAMPU, said in a statement.

"These discussions centered on open formats, particularly as they relate to office documents, their importance for the current and future accessibility of government records, and the relative 'openness' of the format options available to us," Nor Aliah explained.

The study will document the benefits of open standards, suggest policies and guidelines for achieving openness and provide a roadmap for implementing the ODF in Malaysia' public sector, added MOSSA.

The country unveiled its intentions to consider the ODF as a national standard for office documents in July last year. A month later, Hasannudin Saidin, a technical committee member of Sirim, the country's standards development agency, said on his blog that the proposal would have to gain approval from a higher-level committee within Sirim before it could proceed.

In July this year, Japan became the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to embrace open software standards. Last August, the United Nations urged countries in the region to adopt the ODF.

Published by OASIS (the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), the ODF--or Open Document Format for Office Applications--is an XML-based open standard, enabling any office software to format, save and exchange file documents such as spreadsheets, databases and text.