World Justice Project (WJP) has released its report on the measurement of government openness based on the general public’s experiences and perceptions worldwide, placing Singapore the 28th countries in the world.
The WJP Open Government Index presents aggregated scores and rankings as well as individual scores for each of the four dimensions of government openness.
The first is publicized laws and government data, which measures availability and accessibility of government laws, legal rights, public data, and other government information.
The second is right to information, which measures responsiveness to requests for public records held by the government, with consideration to timeliness, pertinence, relative cost, and people’s awareness of the right to access public records.
The third is civic participation, which measures people’s ability to gather with others, comment on government policies, sign petitions, hold peaceful demonstrations, and voice concerns about public policies. Also measures sufficiency of information and notice about decisions affecting the community, including opportunity for citizen feedback.
The last one is complaint mechanisms, which measures practical ability of people to make complaints about public officials or services to various government officers, and the response to such complaints.
According to the release, none of the Asian countries is within the list of top ten countries with open and transparent governments.
Japan is perceived to have the most open government system in Asia, which is ranked 20th globally followed by South Korea which is ranked 22.
Singapore ranked 28 globally. The report stated that it is perceived by its multi-ethnic citizen community to have a fair government that functions on a robust complaint redressal system granting citizens right to information on the functioning of the government.
India ranked 32 globally and the fourth country in Asia to have a transparent system, followed by Indonesia and Nepal ranked 47 and 51 respectively globally.
As President Duterte in power, Philippines sees a decline in government accountability and is ranked 54 followed by Mongolia which is ranked 61.
People in Sri Lanka also perceive a decline in the citizens’ participation in government functioning and is ranked 62 followed by Thailand which is ranked 68.
Bangladesh and Pakistan ranked 80 and 83 respectively. The countries are perceived to have closed system with minimum public participation and oversight. China is ranked 83 followed by Vietnam ranked 85. Meanwhile, Malaysia is amongst the lowest ranked countries along with Myanmar and Cambodia.
One possible criticism of the report is that it is based on the perception of transparency rather than actual transparency. Readers can refer to one portion of the survey below. Members of Public might have a perception of the transparency level of the government which is different from the real situation. For example, many would not have the experience of seeking information from the government in Singapore and could only answer based on their perception of their openness to share information.