Talk: Open Government & Open Data in Malaysia, Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), Kyoto University, Dec 15
The Sinar Project is an initiative using open technology and applications to systematically make important information public and more accessible to the Malaysian people. It aims to improve governance and encourage greater citizen involvement in the public affairs of the nation by making the Malaysian Government more open, transparent and accountable. We build open source civic tech applications, work to open government with open data and defend digital rights for citizens to apply their democratic rights.
Unlike other countries with proactive publication of government information and open data initiatives, Sinar works with open data tools and methods in what is defined as a constrained environment. There is no Freedom of Information Act (Federal), no public asset or interests disclosure, constrained freedom of expression through Sedition Law, Communications & Multimedia Act, misuse of Official Secrets Act, Universities & University Colleges Act and Print and Presses Act. Additionally there are other constraints on space for CSOs to work such as difficulty in obtaining non-profit status for rights based NGOs.
This has resulted in an environment where open government data availability in higher middle income countries like Thailand and Malaysia performed worse than lower middle income countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam  . As a result Sinar has had to implement some innovative approaches in improving government transparency through building tools for collaborative sharing of limited open government data and sourcing for alternative data through traditional methods such as community social audits.
The talk will cover introduction to open data & civic tech and working with open data tools and approaches used locally in Malaysia and internationally. It will also cover some cases of how lack of government data and statistics, as well as suppression of this information impacts governance and communities.
About Khairil Yusof:
Khairil Yusof coordinates project implementations, funding, engagement and overall direction of Sinar Project. He works on open government and open parliament initiatives. He also helps conducts training to help build technical capacity for other civil society organizations. In the past, he used to worked on the International Open Source Network project as part of the UNDP Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme promoting adoption of open source, open standards and open content to developing countries in Asia-Pacific region. Has extensively worked with various government agencies, private sector and civil society for ICT for development issues. Even though he is not as skilled in languages as his fellow team mates, but he primarily speaks Python, and a smattering of Go. In what little (if any) personal time left after spending time with his kids, he plays basketball, dabbles in gardening.