Open Government Research

//Open Government Research
Open Government Research 2019-11-29T09:45:01+00:00

Open Government Research

“Our right to know
left in the dark”

Introduction

In times of digital centralisation, closed governance, and democracy in retreat, how should people reclaim their deserved right to know?

While open government becomes a trend for governments around the world, the Hong Kong government has been gradually concealing information away from the public in many fields. The long-criticized Code of Access to Information has not been reviewed in more than twenty years. The Ombudsman has also criticized the legal effect of the Code for the limited power and coverage of scrutiny. In practice, government departments have always had much reservations when it comes to information disclosure. Worse still, the authority has actively used injunctions and emergency ordinance to suppress freedom of expression. Closed information makes the high wall behind which hides bureaucracy and policing that continues to strip citizens of the right to know. Hong Kong citizens has never been further away from the truth.

Through reviewing the government’s information openness, open government research studies the shortcomings in the current archiving systems with comparisons with different countries. On the one hand, we advocate freedom of information law and archives law; on the other hand, we take actions to set into motion an all-round opening of information. Through our research and actions, we hope to facilitate public participation and stimulate more nuanced and informed discussions on public policies.

Research Highlights

  • Review information blackholes — analyze the government’s refusal to disclose information by looking at the figures, natures, reasons, and trends of their refusals.
  • Set the standards — submit hundreds of questions to the government requesting information of various policies; then, make the answers public in order to demonstrate the importance of being able to request information from the government.
  • Establish databases — develop our own databases in order to nudge the government to make open relevant information and facilitate policy discussions for change. The databases include those which show spatial data and information of brownfields, suspected cases of trading of small house, short-term tenancies and vacant government land
  • Legislation — advocate archive law and freedom of information law to ensure the completeness of archive records and of the public’s right to know.

Urged the FCO to release more pre-1997 Hong Kong-related files and monitored the archival management of the HK government

Collected 600 files related to Hong Kong and digitized them into searchable documents;

Curated feature articles over media platforms and used archives as an introduction to China-Hong Kong political discussions, including such topics as the PRC Constitution’s Article 31 and the Sino-British Joint Declaration;

Fundraising Targets

Future Goals

To build a public library with 1,000 searchable files;

To chronicle the details of pre-handover political negotiations;

To use archives to further political discussions relating to China and Hong Kong;

To urge the FCO to release more classified pre-1997 HK files

To monitor the running of Hong Kong Public Records Building in Kwun Tong, to promote the legislation of Archives Law, and to improve the policies and use of the archives