About ten days ago I reported that SC 34, the ISO/IEC JTC1 committee responsible for evaluating OOXML, has been unable to make progress on any of its other important initiatives since the OOXML vote. Why? Because the eleven Observer (O) Members that had upgraded to Principal (P) member status in the run up to the OOXML vote have not bothered to cast a vote (even to abstain) ever since. P Members, you may recall, have more influence over the outcome than do O Members.
There is more than one way to look at the voting, of course, and Rick Jelliffe thinks that both sides are equally to blame. I don't think that conclusion can stand up, though, once you really look at the numbers.In the same piece, I observed that this further confirmed the assumptions of those (myself included) that those National Bodies that had upgraded did so solely for the purpose of voting "Yes" for OOXML, as earlier demonstrated by the fact that of the 11 upgrades had in fact done exactly that. What I had not anticipated was that a key standards committee would now be suffering serious collateral damage when these new members have shown no willingness to vote – even to the extend of simply casting an "abstention," which would suffice to meet the requisite 50% participation among P Members for a vote to pass.
Rick wrote a piece of his own at O’Reilly.net on the same topic, which he called Name ’em and shame’ em: non-voting on SC34 ballots. There, he noted that 12 of the "P" Members that had voted to adopt OOXML failed to vote on a recent proposal, and that 9 who had voted against adoption also failed to participate (two countries that had abstained on the OOXML vote also failed to vote). From this, he concluded:
So both sides are equally slack. What did you expect the result to be? If you expected it to show that the MS stooge countries were pretty bad, while the valiant anti-OOXML forces were pretty good it shows you have drunk the Kool-aid, with all gentle respect. Some-one says something based on no objective evidence, but if it accords with what has been said enough times before, people think “That sounds about right”: but what if what was said before also had no objective evidence, that there is a chain or ripple of make-believe and demonization that merely emotifies foregone conclusions?
Here’s where I think that Rick goes off track. He begins his piece by stating that the problem is clearly the new members. But then he shifts the focus, and looks at the voting of all of the members, and not just the new ones. And therein lies the problem.
Here’s why: I’m told that the historical success rate for achieving the necessary 50% of P votes has been about 90%. That doesn’t mean that every P member votes in every one of the very frequent ballots (several a month), since not every P member is interested in every initiative. That’s why the participation requirement is set at 50% and not (say) 75%. It just means that 90% of the time at least 50% did respond.
The problem with SC 34, then, isn’t whether those that voted against OOXML (old and new) are failing to vote as much as those (old and new) that voted for it, but whether the new P upgrades are voting at all. It’s also instructive to look at how those same upgrades voted on OOXML. As you’d expect, what you see is not that long-term P members have suddenly quit voting, but that the influx of a large number of new, non-voting P members simply changes the math.
When we look at the data from this perspective, we see a very different picture. Here’s how the eleven countries that upgraded from O to P membership in the months (and often just days) before the OOXML voting period closed on OOXML, and also whether or not they voted in the more recent ballot (all data is from Rick’s analysis of the voting record):
Upgrades that voted to adopt OOXML and didn’t vote later: 7
(Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Lebanon, Malta, Pakistan, Turkey, Venezuela)
Upgrades that abstained on OOXML and didn’t vote later: 1
(Trinidad and Tobago)
Upgrades that voted against OOXML and didn’t vote later: 0
[Rick doesn’t mention the other three upgrades, so I assume that they did in fact vote on the ballot he examined. They, and their votes on OOXML, were as follows: Ecuador (disapprove), Jamaica (approve) and Uruguay (approve, with comments)]
That tells a rather different tale, doesn’t it? In fact, 7 out of 8 upgrades that voted "yes" without comments didn’t vote, while the only upgrade that voted against OOXML apparently did participate in the ballot Rick selected for examination. An abstention, by the way, is a next best thing to an approval vote under the complex ISO/IEC rules.
I’ll not express any opinion on whether the above (non)voting record indicates that the National Bodies showing such bad committee citizenship are therefore "Microsoft stooges," but I would submit that the information above does clearly qualify as "objective evidence."
And I’d submit it also clearly indicates the real reason why SC 34 was able to function before the OOXML vote, and now is stuck in the quicksand.
On a more hopeful note, Rick reports that there are ongoing discussions on how the situation can be addressed, and I also agree with his point that there is nothing inherently inappropriate about a National Body wanting to take a greater interest in a single standard. What I objected to in my original posts on this topic was the curiousness of so many countries upgrading at the last minute and voting so unanimously.
And yes, the timing does matter – very much. In a large number of P countries around the world, vigorous public debates were held in open meetings between those that favored, and those that opposed, OOXML. As a result, the long-term members of those National Bodies, even if they knew nothing about document formats before the vote, were able to become well informed by the time their votes were cast.
In contrast, most of the P upgrades occurred at the very last minute – and before anyone who opposed OOXML had a chance to make their opinions known, or to bring any information to the attention of their National Body.
In the normal case, we would assume that an upgrade by a JTC1 member had no significance at all. But when we see stacking and other irregularities in countries that are already P countries, and then see what can only be regarded as the stealth launch of a substantial number of submarine "yes" votes from countries that until then weren’t P countries at all, it is not unreasonable to reach a different conclusion.
Even without any Kool-aid at all. Fact of the matter is, I’ve always hated the stuff.
For further blog entries on ODF and OOXML, click here
"what you see is that long-term P members have suddenly quit voting" – is there a missing "not"?
Right you are – thanks.
Always hated Kool-Aid!!!! Aw come on Andy, surely you jest!
You know, I’m actually not. It always seemed like colored water without much taste. Probably because it’s just colored water without much taste. Anyway, it’s the cyanide that will get you every time (in this context).
It is well worth looking under the surface of the votes. Venezuela for example voted in favour, but submitted 73 comments on it, not many of them favourable! Of the 11 new countries 4 submitted comments against OOXML.
Venezuela 73 comments
Malta 5 comments
Ecuador 1 comment
Uruguay 18 comments
Good point, and I confess that I had not not dived deep enough to note that.
You summary <i>Rick Jelliffe thinks that both sides are equally to blame</i> rather misses my point, which was
<blockquote>It is easy to castigate NBs for not living up to the obligations they signed up for, but the more productive way to approach this is that the customer is always right: SC34 needs to have some reorganization so that people interested in just one thing don’t stymie other projects.</blockquote>
<blockquote>So both sides are equally slack. </blockquote>
<blockquote>Actually, I think the whole way of thinking about this in blame terms is unhelpful.</i>
<blockquote>The problem with SC 34, then, isn’t whether those that voted against OOXML (old and new) are failing to vote as much as those (old and new) that voted for it, but whether the new P upgrades are voting at all. </blockquote>
The first part of your blog is correct, that an alignment along DIS29500 ballot voting lines is not supported (though abstentions have a much higher rate of voting than the Yes and No NBs). That was the point of my blog, and thanks for acknowledging it.
But I don’t buy your second part. There are no second class P-members. All have the obligation, and when they don’t vote as many as possible need to pull up their socks.
What if someone said "the real problem is whether NBs with 5 and 6 letter names are voting at all": Brazil, Chile, China, Cyprus, France, India, Kenya, Malta, Norway, Turkey, and any others I have missed? Well, they would be correct that as a strategy, targeting those countries would get rid of the deadlock, and they would be right that if only those countries did the right thing then we wouldn’t be impacted by slackness from <i>Korea, Republic of</i> and <i>Trinidad and Tobago</i>. And someone certainly could say <i>If only there was a ban on NBs with 5 or 6 letter names, all would have been well</i> but by doing they would expose themselves to ridicule. But it would be completely wrong to say that therefore the NBs with 5 and 6 letter names were more culpable than their supernominated global neighbours. <i>cum hoc ergo propter hoc</i>
In fact, if anything, we should be more tolerant of teething troubles and beginners SNAFUs from newbies. Look at New Zealand: excellent technically, long tradition, the message hadn’t gotten through about what was required, or they hadn’t been able to organize. So what? Babies fall over.
But is it really the newcomers who are the villians?
I am fascinated by Andy’s logic. Andy really wants to collar the NBs who became eligible to vote close Sept 2. Perfidious Johnny-come-latelies. But lets look at the voting records of those NBs who joined SC34 as P-members since mid 2006, which we can get from http://www.jtc1sc34.org/repository/0757.htm and then subtract the 8 newcomers that Andy identifies.
By my count, that gives the following national standards bodies who have joined since the ODF and OOXML fast-tracking began, excluding the most recent 8: Bulgaria, Brazil, Switzerland, Côte-d’Ivoire, Columbia, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, India, Korea, Kenya, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Sweden, and South Africa. 21 NBs.
Now lets have a look at their voting record for ballots (on drafts): I cannot find any record for the following 11 countries having ever responded to votes (ignoring the DIS 29500 ballot of course): Bulgaria, Brazil, Côte-d’Ivoire, Egypt, France, India, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, South Africa. There are (absolutely) more chronic no-voters who joined in the previous year than who joined in the last three months. And these don’t even have the newbie defense as much! (And only 3 of them don’t the short names 🙂 Apologies if I have miscounted any, of course!
(If you want these 11 tabulated by OOXML vote, I count 5 Noes, 5 yes, 1 abstain. But it is count that means nothing; there are other NBs who have stopped voting, too.)
Andy, you cannot simplify it to merely horrible newcomers from the last 3 months versus steady reliable people before that, just to fit in the general black-hat/white-hat narrative. In fact, about 18 of the last 28 members to join have been totally slack, and even some old-timers have been slack. The problem is single interest NBs who are interested in ODF and OOXML only. So perhaps I should agree with Andy that the problem is new P-members, but only if new meant "those who have joined in the last 18 months".
But the solution is to align SC34 along lines that correspond to members interests, so that they don’t have to vote for things they have no interest in, and to help them understand their obligations and set up their local committees.
I think Andy’s analysis is sensible.
As I understand, some months ago there were 30 P members, for the OOXML vote there were 38. That is an increase by 27%. Many only signing up at the last moment.
To me this sounds extraordinary. Or do we see such variation in membership often?
So it is very natural to ask why there was this level of interest. And how these new members live up to their responsibilities? Mainly, they don’t live up.
This is rather a problem for the committee. And it gives us reason to ponder the motivation of these new members. That motivation seems to align with the hypothesis that these members are single issue P-members. This might also hold true with older members.
Futher looking into their behavior also gives us no reason to think that they have deeper interests in the content of the standards discussed in SC34. Most have not added anything to the workings of this group than a single unconditional yes vote. No comments, no discussion, nothing.
To me, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, I will seriously consider the possibility that it actually is a duck.
It looks like they signed up to unconditionally support MS OOXML, they acted that way during the vote, and they are as silent afterward as if that was their sole intention. So I will follow others and seriously consider the theory that they did sign up to unconditionally support MS OOXML. As to why they acted that way, ie sign up, needs further evidence. But we can speculate.
Given eye witness reports from various NB meetings, eg, Portugal, Switserland, the Netherlands, Sweden, etc, the idea that MS was going out of it’s way to gather yes votes and prevent no votes (and block comments) is rather plausible. Therefore, the conclusion that these new members were talked into it by MS is not really as outlandish as you try to make it.
Instead of trying your old routine of "there is no hard evidence, therefore you cannot say that", and "the others did too", you might come up with a better explanation of this behavior. That is much more convincing.
Maybe Côte d’Ivoire really has a long term interest in document formats? After their civil war, they might see a point in standardization of MS OOXML (seriously, I don’t mean this as sarcasm). On the other hand, the South African NB has participated actively in the voting process of OOXML. If they only joined for this particular vote, at least they worked for it.
Personally, I think it is perfectly right to upgrade for a single vote (but you should downgrade later if only to be polite). But in any type of committee, I too am suspicious of single issue members who do not contribute anything but a single unconditional vote.
And please, instead of spending so much energy in defending the behavior of MS. Could you not spend it in ways that would make MSOOXML better? (or was Bill Hilf right, and can’t it be changed) Or to harmonize MSOOXML with ODF? (as many countries have asked, including the EU)
You are an expert in this field, so please, give people who cannot use MS Office some reason to like MSOOXML.
Elsewhere you tried very hard to prove that ISO standardization is inconsequential, like stocking a book in a library. Then why do you (and MS employees) make such a large effort to cram it through ISO? MS doesn’t even trust the ISO enough to commit to actually implement the rattified standard. Why is it so important that MSOOXML becomes an ISO standard?
The only reason I see is to kill ODF and remain elligible for government bids. But I am open to better reasons.
18 months ago there were only 10. The big explosion had already happened.
I think I am defending ISO and SC34, not MS. They can defend themselves.
And as the premise of my blog (as I repeated) was that the customer is always right (i.e. each NB has a legitimate set of interests that they alone decide), I am not denying that a whole lot of NBs are only interested in ODF/OOXML. Hence my prescription for re-jigging SC34 to suit the NBs.
The reason for a standard is that ISO is an organization that makes standards, and tries to do everything to broker agreements. If OASIS can get their standard through, so can ECMA, provided it meets the year-long and exhaustive review (which acceptance the process is geared to try to achieve, unless they are inflexible, which their ballot comments counter-indicate.) There cannot be one rule for one mob and a different one for another mob. Fairness is a clear matter of law and public policy; standards bodies are encouraged by governments and legal theory because they create markets without the problem of cartelization.
To reverse the question: what harm does a standard for OOXML do? In the publishing industry we have been calling for something like this for decades, open source people have welcomed it, the EU required it of MS. To call the ISO voluntary standards a select library is not to denigrate them, though perhaps you have a lower opinion of libraries than me. OOXML won’t kill ODF, the drivers for ODF are different.
"There cannot be one rule for one mob and a different one for another mob. Fairness is a clear matter of law and public policy; standards bodies are encouraged by governments and legal theory because they create markets without the problem of cartelization. "
Fairness? So the USA was right to get everyone her own mobile phone standard and the EU wrong to insist on GSM for all? And it was ok to give every city its own fire-hydrant standard and wrong to make a national standard? (David A Wheeler has a nice writeup of that)
No, it is NOT fair to give everyone her own international standard. This is wrong on so many levels, I can’t even start to enumerate.
But only one example: Multiple standards are extremely bad for markets, as even a cursory look at the mobile phone markets in the USA vs EU will show.
"To reverse the question: what harm does a standard for OOXML do? In the publishing industry we have been calling for something like this for decades, open source people have welcomed it, the EU required it of MS. To call the ISO voluntary standards a select library is not to denigrate them, though perhaps you have a lower opinion of libraries than me. OOXML won’t kill ODF, the drivers for ODF are different."
I love libraries, but their function is not even close to be comparable to ISO.
None of this is as I remember it. MS was repeatedly asked to publish their binary document formats. They have always (and still are) refused. OOXML does not describe the old formats. They were repeatedly asked to join the ODF standardization effort and to work out any differences. They have never bothered to do so.
The drivers for ODF are not different. At least not publically. By definition, we do not need a new international standard to preserve legacy documents . And the world also doesn’t need an ISO rattification of the internal memory layout of Office 07 (yes Bill Hilf admitted that publically). All other legitimate (as in legal) needs are covered by an existing ISO standard ODF. The only need not covered with ODF is vendor lock-in.
Almost by definition the first standard wins, unless it fails technically. Nothing about fairness is involved. If you can show convincingly that ODF fails technically and irreparably, there might be a reason to come up with a new standard.
But there would never be a reason to insist that that standard should be developed behind closed doors, excluding all other vendors and users except MS and a few chosen partners.
Give us a reason to like MS OOXML outside of "it is fair to give MS their own standard".
There are and always will be multiple standards. Look at the graphics world. Look at the schema world. A farm with just one kind of produce is indeed simpler than a farm with multiple kinds of produce, but a richer ecosystem is better than a monoculture. I have mentioned some of the legal and public policy impediments. The ISO process does not give MS or ECMA their standard automatically: it goes the the lengthy review process and the BRM to make sure it meets the technical and editorial requirements. But issues of anti-trust are outside ISO’s remit.
As for the EU, see
This is the EU document from 2004 that recommends that OASIS should submit ODF to ISO. The same document recommends inter alia that
If you have not been aware that MS is progressing OOXML through ISO at EU instigation, in the background of their anti-trust case and their SMB case, where have you been getting your information from? It has been repeatedly mentioned, and this is one of the key documents for understanding the rationale for OOXML. It isn’t just MS dictating "Our customers are demanding it!", their customers and regulators actually have been demanding it. Note that there is no mention of a requirement that MS adopt ODF instead of their format, but that both should be standards and that filters be provided and plurality supported. Very pragmatic, at least for this decade.
Winter isn’t involved with the ISO, so it’s his job to extrapolate the organisation’s current trajectory and evaluate potential risks. Since Rick is involved with the ISO, it’s his job to correct the organisation’s trajectory when it wobbles.
Winter is best served by looking for worst-case scenarios over the course of years, while Rick is best served by focusing on the best case over weeks and months. Sorry for butting in to a private argument, but it seems like you’re trying to convince each other that yours is the right point-of-view, which will be frustrating and ineffective.
Rick and Winter,
Sorry to be so long in responding; I was at a meeting in Tokyo on Monday and then en route home.
Let me pick up on Rick’s suggestion about looking to how to reform the system to make it work better. By way of introductory admission, I know far less about the JTC1 process than I wish I did, so these are observations based on admittedly partial knowledge. They are also focusing on only a few pieces of a very complex puzzle, so they’re not intended to be a complete solution.
1. There were some things that were unique here. From what I understand from private as well as public sources, the last minute arrival of multiple P members was not accidental, but meant to take the opposition by surprise. Had those countries that upgraded in August done so in, say June, that would have been different. Is this a big deal beyond the OOXML vote? Maybe not, as it would take so much work to achieve this sort of ploy that this gambit will presumably rarely be played. But it does make the system look very bad, and next time might work. Given that everyone (even Microsoft now, as Jason seems to acknowledge) agrees that OOXML needs some serious remedial work before it should be adopted, no matter what you may think about the big picture, that would have been regrettable.
2. I agree with Rick’s point about accommodating single-interest members, but it may be that a different solution would be smarter than allowing them to upgrade to P members fto have greater impact, even within a single working group. There is something to be said about having a "bicameral" legislative process, where those who are less expert in standards matters get the rights that go along with O membership, and the gray hairs that have made a serious, long term commitment to the area of the committee have greater influence. There will be cases where being familiar with the total responsibility area of a committee will yield more knowledgeable votes, because they have the total business, overall architectural picture, understanding of basic issues, even, and so on in mind while the single standards folks simply won’t have that context.
So I agree with Rick that the situation involves an issue that is bigger than which camp has the worst voting record. But the best solution might not be to give "both mobs" more influence, but perhaps to deny it to either.
It occurs to me that a much more tailored solution might be to base entitlement to P status on the voting record of an NB while it is an O member. If that voting record demonstrates a commitment to the broader remit of the committee and the good citizenship to support it, then they would have earned the right to upgrade. Otherwise, not.
Just some short remarks, as Andy has made much better suggestions than I could. I hope it is not too late to reform before the governments remodel the ISO voting system by force.
1 It seems OOXML still does not provide a complete description of the Office output. But Rick will know that better than I ever will. MS already has publically rescinded on their commitment lately (at least, I understood it as such)
2 ECMA 376 already is an international standard. ECMA is there for vendor specific standards. ISO is more for consensus standards. The EU most definitely did not ask MS to submit to ISO. They actually asked that OOXML and ODF were harmonized. In my memory, MS started the OOXML standardization effort only after ODF became an ISO standard. So I have to see better arguments to believe MS did this because they were asked. They were asked lots of things by the EU which they refused to give. So why this time?
3 That has failed, as OOXML is full of that stuff, and Office07 even more so. Most of which seems to be proprietary too (eg, OLE). Again, Rick is the expert here and could explain how good MS succeeded in getting rid of non-XML components. The problems of the CleverAge XSL converter suggests that the XML in OOXML is really bad, but I simply don’t have the expertise to comment on that. Rick is the expert, again.
I see I have taken a lot of space in this blog lately. I do tend to get carried away easily. So maybe I should speak softer for a while 🙂
Rick, you quote well from the original EU TAC recommendations of 2004.
But you omit to mention, as I presume you know, that time has not stood still on that report, and that the EU programme that generated it has been succeeded by yet more work, and at least two key reports/declarations.
The first was the snappily titled "PEGSCO conclusions and recommendations on Open Document Exchange Formats" of 6 December 2006. There are several conclusions in the report and I won’t list them all. Some of them are quite pragmatic and seem to anticipate there being a second ISO format for documents, but some are very clearly principled and include:
Both quite pertinent to whether the EU will welcome a second ISO standard or not I would contend. In fact, if you refer to this page http://ec.europa.eu/idabc/en/document/3428/5938 you will see that it clearly states that the PEGSCO recommendations supersede the "now out-dated" TAC recommendations.
But this isn’t the last word so far. This year, a key workshop of member states (in other words not European Commission functionaries) produced an even clearer declaration that they are not happy with the course Microsoft is steering. I can’t lay my hands on the web reference immediately, for the final political statement, but you can find the workshop summaries at http://ec.europa.eu/idabc/en/document/6474. Again, the view from the EU now is that we do not want two standards, and whatever happens at ISO, having OOXML and ODF is entirely contrary to the requirements of EU public administrations.
Finally, it might be worth people having a look at the information beginning to come out from the first international ODF users workshop at http://odfworkshop.org/, on http://blogs.sun.com/dancer/ and http://www.heise.de/english/newsticker/news/98208
Yes, indeed time does not stand still.
I expect that policy will be dictated by pragmatics, and these will be dictated by the status quo. So when neither camp had a standard, EU would recommend they standardize. When there the first standard arrives, EU will be partial to that and show that it does indeed like standards. Then when there are two standards with clear distinctions (i.e. in early 2008), I expect EU will go more neutral (or, if we are lucky, push a right-tool-for-the-job approach, with ODF pushed for public-writeable documents, HTML for public read-only documents, ISO PDF for print-ready documents, and OOXML as an adjunct and for use in systems where it has features that ODF does not).
And when ODF 1.1 (or really 1.2) (i.e. late 2008, early 2009?) goes through ISO, then the ball will be back in the ODF camp. And in the background will be various driving forces for modularization, cross-pollenization and harmonization.
The reason for quoting that EU document was because I think it puts the drivers for OOXML is a completely different light. A mate of mine’s father was a lawyer in the 1950s and 1960s. He said that when Perry Mason came out on TV, juries changed their way of operating completely: it was not enough to say "What is being alleged isn’t convincing because of X, Y and Z", defense lawyers had also to identify plausible other culprits. I have suspected that the same mindset is at work, because of the overriding rage against Microsoft many of Microsoft’s victims or proxy-victims feel. I have been horrified at how many people, otherwise of goodwill, seemingly accept the idea that if someone comes from a poor country and votes in a way different to their druthers, there must be some corruption; pointing out the lack of evidence is not enough, pointing out the good-as racism is no good. Under the Perry Mason theory, I suppose one would have to come up with alternative reasons why someone might vote a certain way (for example, because they wanted to implement a Word-alike processor, and wanted to restrict MS’ freedom to change their formats, or whatever.)
Another writer mentioned some governments reforming ISO by force. Actually, I predict the opposite. I think when people see that the BRM process brings a good result, they will think quite well of ISO. And, if they have been involved in participating for one side or the other, they may think they didn’t get quite the result they wanted, but they will be able to see the improvements from their (camp’s) participation.
It seems to me that this prediction from your last post is likely to play out as you expect:
"Then when there are two standards with clear distinctions (i.e. in early 2008), I expect EU will go more neutral (or, if we are lucky, push a right-tool-for-the-job approach, with ODF pushed for public-writeable documents, HTML for public read-only documents, ISO PDF for print-ready documents, and OOXML as an adjunct and for use in systems where it has features that ODF does not)."
I also agree that it is quite patronizing and wrong to assume that any particular country joined or upgraded in SC 34 at the goading of Microsoft. But political correctness does not require us to leave common sense at the door, or to ignore actual information from the field. What I’ve been told by those in the trenches is that a significant number (at least) of the late upgrades were part of a coordinated strategy rather than a series of independent decisions.
"Another writer mentioned some governments reforming ISO by force. Actually, I predict the opposite. I think when people see that the BRM process brings a good result, they will think quite well of ISO. And, if they have been involved in participating for one side or the other, they may think they didn’t get quite the result they wanted, but they will be able to see the improvements from their (camp’s) participation."
I was one of those that mentioned that. And I agree completely with Rick here. If the BRM brings about changes to OOXML that really address the awfull (and often quite silly) problems of OOXML and the "Not Invented Here" development, that could come a long way in restoring trust in the ISO process. A big IF, but quite possible.
I also agree completely that people from poor countries generally disagree with us for very good reasons (athough the Maltese are hardly third world people). But I wouldn’t try to accuse the people who compile the Corruption Index of pursuing a hidden agenda. Nor are we here suspicious for no good reason. I do remember that the most appalling stories came from Portugal, Switserland, and Sweden.