OGP Asia Pacific Outreach to 5 Countries

“The thing with OGP: If you benefit from it, you have to share it”, Richard Bon Moya, Undersecretary – CIO of the Philippine Department of Budget and Management while giving the keynote speech in OGP Asia Pacific outreach in Cambodia, October 16-17, 2014.

Building on the interest of around 650 government and civil society delegates attending the OGP Asia Pacific Regional Conference in Bali last May 2014, the first Open Government Partnership Asia Pacific in-country outreach trip has just taken place. Malaysia and Cambodia were the first two countries where in-country outreach to a broader network was organized on October 13 and October 16-17, 2014 respectively. Key actors from  government, civil society, the private sector, academics, and youth attended the events to learn more about the values and principles of OGP and to discuss if it would be an interesting opportunity for their country to join.

After a strong Civil Society Day in Bali, where the participants issued a joint-communiqué, there is a growing demand from civil society side in the region to learn more about OGP. Civil society and the government of Indonesia decided to collaboratively organize a series of events in the region – supported by OGP’s civil society engagement team -  to answer the interest from the participants of the OGP Bali Conference. The objective of the events is to share the practices, values, and principles of OGP across the Asia Pacific region. Although Indonesian actors took the lead, the government and civil society organizations from the Philippines soon joined in, sharing their lessons learned, benefits, and stories about OGP in their country.

OGP serves as a platform for participating countries and non-participating countries, for those who are eligible and for those who are not, to learn, to share, and to grow together as nations in the same region. OGP also serves as  a practical tool domestically to achieve social justice through real implementation and practices on the ground where access to information, participation, and accountable government are  the right of every citizen. The main objective of the outreach events is to encourage those who are not yet eligible to OGP to improve  their eligibility score (Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam); and to encourage others who are eligible to join OGP and start  creating  a national action plan (Papua New Guinea).

One of the important aspects of OGP is that every country has its own specific context. In the spirit of enhancing democracy together in the region, it is important to take that into account. Malaysian key actors, with their country two points short for eligibility , see that improving Asset Disclosure practices might be a priority for improving their eligibility score while passing an Access to Information Law might take a bit longer. 

In Cambodia, who are 7 points short of eligibility,  civil society organizations  pledged to  push for  more ambition to improve their eligibility scores  by conducting more outreach and working with the government on each criteria with Asset Disclosure and Access to Information being priorities.

In both Malaysia and Cambodia, good practices of Open Government have already been in place. For example, in Malaysia, the subnational government of Penang state has passed a transparency law. In some subnational level governments in Cambodia, transparency and public engagement have improved with the implementation of a  decentralisation law.

Raising more awareness about OGP, finding reformers within the national government, working together with  civil society organizations, and collaborating to increase the minimum standard on the eligibility criteria will help Malaysia and Cambodia to improve governance, to provide an atmosphere of openness, and to enhance accountability within government, which will in the end help build trust between the different actors..

This  series of events is demonstrative of the fact that  government and civil society in Asia Pacific are willing to partner up to disseminate the spirit of OGP to fellow actors in Asia Pacific region.

The workshops themselves are supported by Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundation and Asia Development Bank. The first series of events is conducted in 5 countries and coordinated by Center for Regional Information and Studies (PATTIRO) together with Transparency International Indonesia. and Government of Indonesia - President's Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight (UKP4). OGP in-country workshops will now take place in Papua New Guinea, Myanmar, and Vietnam in November and January 2015.

On behalf of the organising committee, we welcome your support and participation to engage further with government and civil societies to encourage openness and the spirit of OGP in the Asia Pacific region. 

Authors: Nanda Sihombing
Filed Under: OGP News