The right to know examines the state of the media and information access in eight countries in Southeast Asia. It contains the findings of a cross-country survey that ranked the countries according to their openness. The Philippines and Thailand rank the most transparent countries. Cambodia is third, although citizens rarely attempt to obtain information from the government, which they think is authoritarian and inaccessible. Moreover, the information infrastructure is in shambles after the ravages of the Khmer Rouge.
In Indonesia, Soeharto-era restrictions on information disclosure remain in place, although the press is free and able to report on areas of public life previously considered taboo. In Singapore and Malaysia, paternalistic but restrictive governments keep citizens in thrall while giving them a taste of good life. After the East Asian crisis, there was some opening up in these countries in response to the demands of global business for more economic information. But other aspects of political and social life remain closed scrutiny.
Submit your review