Singapore continues to rank world No. 1 in the area of order and security, according to the 2019 Rule of Law Index compiled by the World Justice Project (WJP), an independent advocacy group based in the United States.
Order and security is measured by how well a society ensures the security of persons and property. This standing comes despite there being more countries assessed, from 113 in last year's report to 126 in this year's evaluation, released yesterday.
Singapore ranked 13th globally in rule of law, beating other places such as Japan, which came in 15th; Hong Kong, 16th; and South Korea, 18th.
The index measures how the rule of law is experienced and perceived in practical, everyday situations by people across the globe and is the world's leading source for original, independent data on rule of law.
Singapore received the same global ranking last year, when it fell four places from its position in 2016.
Globally, the top three places went to Denmark, Norway and Finland, while the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cambodia and Venezuela rounded off the bottom.
HOW SINGAPORE RANKED GLOBALLY
(out of 126 countries)
Rule of law: 13
Order and security: 1
Regulatory enforcement: 3
Absence of corruption: 3
Civil justice: 5
Criminal justice: 6
Constraints on government powers: 27
Fundamental rights: 30
Open government: 25
HOW SINGAPORE RANKED REGIONALLY
(out of 15 countries)
Rule of law: 3
Order and security: 1
Regulatory enforcement: 1
Absence of corruption: 1
Civil justice: 1
Criminal justice: 1
Constraints on government powers: 5
Fundamental rights: 5
Open government: 6
The ratings are based on data collected from more than 120,000 households and 3,800 expert surveys in 126 countries.
Performance is measured using 44 indicators across eight primary rule of law factors, each of which is scored and ranked globally and against regional peers. The factors include absence of corruption and fundamental rights as well as order and security.
Singapore came in third for overall rule of law among 15 countries in the East Asia and Pacific region, the same position as in the previous year. New Zealand came in first and Australia, second.
However, Singapore topped the region in absence of corruption, regulatory enforcement, civil justice and criminal justice.
According to the WJP, this year's index shows that more countries declined in overall rule of law performance, continuing a negative slide towards weaker rule of law around the world.
The group cautioned that the factor score for constraints on government powers declined in more countries than any other factor worldwide over the last year, which suggested rising authoritarianism.
Constraints on government powers measures the extent to which, in practice, those who govern are bound by governmental and non-governmental checks such as an independent judiciary or a free press.
Overall, 61 countries saw their scores drop in this area.
"This slide in rule of law in general and checks on government powers in particular is deeply concerning," said WJP executive director Elizabeth Andersen, adding that there is a "crucial difference" between rule by law and rule of law.
Lawyer Chia Boon Teck agreed, saying this is an area democratic governments should check themselves on regularly to gain their people's trust.
"Singapore's placing is decent but, as always, there is room for improvement," he said, highlighting three areas on which the index showed Singapore could improve - constraints on government powers, fundamental rights and open government.
WJP chief executive and founder William H. Neukom said the index intends to be a first step to set benchmarks and enable a deeper appreciation and understanding for the foundational importance of the rule of law.
He added: "Effective rule of law is the foundation for communities of justice, opportunity and peace."