Indonesia leads the way on parliamentary commitment to openness in Asia

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Indonesia leads the way on parliamentary commitment to openness in Asia

April 17th, 2019

As election day in Indonesia comes to an end, will the appointment of over 20,000 new legislators make its parliament more open and transparent?

Indonesia is the world’s third largest democracy and 192 million voters are going to the polls today. That is why, as in any democracy, it is important to have an open parliament where citizens can access information and take part in law-making.

Accurate voting records and public accounts of government spending are just two examples of why open parliaments should matter to voters going to the polls. This information helps voters to hold their governments to account.

The Indonesian parliament was the first country in the region to ensure there was a focus on parliaments when it comes to transparency and accountability. As part of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), an international forum for 79 countries committed to making their governments more open and accountable, the Indonesian parliament has committed to being more transparent by using new technology.

In most of the 79 member countries, parliaments are not involved at the national level with implementation. Indonesia goes against this trend.

On 9 April, WFD organised a roundtable on this important topic in Bali, Indonesia. 40 members of parliament and civil society organisations from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka came together to discuss what a commitment to transparency and openness means for parliaments and legislators.

The roundtable was an opportunity to talk about different avenues for parliamentary engagement through the OGP, including for countries that have not yet joined up in the region. Parliaments play an important role championing transparency and openness – values and principles at the heart of the OGP. They can partner with local organisations concerned with anti-corruption, efficient public spending and other transparency issues, as well as monitoring the implementation of OGP commitments made by the government.

Learning from the experience of Indonesia’s parliament, participants identified opportunities and ideas for commitments on parliamentary openness and transparency in their own country. These ideas will be used by WFD as an entry point to discuss OGP with different parliaments in Asia.

No matter the outcome of the election, WFD will continue to partner with the parliamentary chapter in Indonesia and support the parliament so it can continue to champion its reforms in Asia and beyond.

Work on the OGP follows previous support to connect parliamentary committees with civil society organisations to develop evidence-based policy. This led to successful modifications of the Counter-Terrorism legislation in May 2018 – showing that connecting citizens with parliament has positive effects on legislation.

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