Does Malaysia exhibit “Citizen Engagement and Demand for Open Data”?

Open Data is a strongly multi-stakeholder issue, such that in the World Bank’s Open Data Readiness Assessment framework, of the eight dimensions, “Demand for Open Data/Citizen Engagement” is rated as having “Very High” importance; that is the highest level, equalled only by “Leadership”. All of the other dimensions are deemed less important.

Can we say that Malaysia has high “Citizen Engagement and Demand for Open Data”? We saw this “demand” in Big Data Malaysia’s Emerging Sector Profile 2014 report (pg 19), but it’s easy to “demand” something by filling in a questionnaire.

The set of questions provided by the World Bank’s assessment framework is useful to get to a real answer. Is there a civil society champion for Open Data in Malaysia? In my mind there is a clear candidate: Sinar Project. But beyond that, keep working down the list of questions and it gets hazy… it’s not a whitewash, but I think we’re a long way from being able to say that the unambiguous inhibitor to Open Data in Malaysia is the Malaysian government.

Personally I believe there’s a long way to go, but it’s not just the government that needs to make the journey. Perhaps in Malaysia, Open Data advocacy needs to be directed more towards business and civil society.

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