Singapore ranks 25th for government openness

SINGAPORE'S government is the 25th most open out of 102 countries, according to the inaugural Open Government Index 2015 released by US-based advocacy group World Justice Project (WJP) on Thursday.

The WJP Open Government Index measures government openness based on the general public's experiences and perceptions.

Singapore's overall score on the index also places it at No 6 among 15 countries in the East Asia and Pacific region, and 24th among 31 high-income countries. Topping the index was Sweden, while Zimbabwe's government was ranked the least open.

The index covers 102 countries and centres on four areas: publicised laws and government data, the right to information, the right to petition and citizen participation, and complaint mechanisms.

Of the four, Singapore's highest ranking was in publicised laws and government data, which measures whether basic laws and information on legal rights are publicly available. It also measures the quality and accessibility of information published by the government.

Civic participation was Singapore's lowest-ranking area. Singapore was 70th out of 102 nations in terms of the government's civic participation mechanisms, such as the protection of the freedom of expression and assembly.

Ranking for the index was derived from expert questionnaires and more than 100,000 household surveys. Close-ended questions were compiled by in-country practitioners and academics with expertise in civil and commercial law, criminal justice, labour law, and public health. The household surveys were conducted by local polling companies, with 1,000 respondents in the three largest cities per country

The index examines practical, everyday situations, such as whether people can receive public information when they request it, and whether people can raise their voice and participate in decision-making processes, said Alejandro Ponce, chief research officer at WJP, in a press release.

"It's our hope that this report will encourage policy choices that enhance openness, promote effective public oversight, and increase collaboration among public and private sectors," Mr Ponce added.

Juan Carlos Botero, executive director of WJP, said: "Government openness is vital for both the government and the governed. It helps improve public service delivery, promotes government legitimacy, and encourages citizens to collaborate with their government and monitor its performance."

This article was first published on March 27, 2015.
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