• The EC should take action to prosecute irresponsible parties who are trying to manipulate the electoral roll

    Media statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, 12th November 2012

    While the Election Commission should be given some credit for taking certain steps to clean up the electoral roll, it has failed to take any concrete action against persons who have been trying to and are still trying to manipulate the electoral roll.

    In a productive meeting between myself, as Project Director and DAP Election Strategist, with the Election Commission on Monday, 5th of November 2012, the Election Commission highlighted a few steps which they have taken and are taking in order to clean up the electoral roll.

    One such initiative is to locate the 12 digit IC number of all police and army voters to check that these postal voters were also not registered using their 12 digit IC number. Although this verification process is long overdue, it should be welcomed as a necessary step in cleaning up the electoral roll. The decision of the EC to require all new army and police postal voter applicants, starting from 2012, to include their 12 digit IC number in their application forms, is also a positive step towards ensuring that these voters are not registered twice in the electoral roll, once using their army / policy identity card number and once using their 12 digit civilian identity card number.

    MERAP has identified many past cases of such double registrations as well as cases whereby an army / postal voter has given their 12 digit civilian IC to their spouses to be registered as postal voters as well as army / postal voters who list themselves as their own spouse in order to be registered as postal voters using their 12 digit civilian IC numbers. Having the 12 digit civilian IC verification, hopefully, will prevent such cases from happening again in the future. I was also informed that the Election Commission has taken action to locate the 12 digit civilian IC numbers of all existing army / police voters. As of 15th October 2012, there remains 411 police and 613 army postal voters whose 12 digit civilian IC numbers have not been located.

    However, what is disappointing is that the Election Commission refuses to take any independent action against those who have tried to manipulate the electoral roll other than removing certain Assistant Registrars. For example, the EC found 60 voters who had tried to register as army / police postal voters AND as regular voters in Quarter 2 2012. This is a clear violation of Section 3 (1) (a) of the Election Offences Act 1954 which states that a person who ‘knowingly makes any false statement on or in connection with any application to be placed on any register of electors’ is guilty of committing an election offence which carries a maximum jail sentence of 2 years or a maximum fine of RM5000 or both. These voters in question clearly knows that it is an offense to register twice, once as a postal voter and another time as a regular voter since every voter has to declare that they have not registered as a voter in another constituency in Borang A Pendaftaran Pemilih.

    The presence of irresponsible parties and individuals who may have tried to manipulate the electoral roll was also detected in the Quarter 4 2011 electoral roll given to the members of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Electoral Reform. The analysis comparing the Date of Birth as well as the Date of Application for all voters found that 282,086 voters were registered before they turned 21. Indeed, there were voters whose Date of Application were before their Date of Birth!

    What is more worrying is the fact that the Election Commission knows of these attempts to manipulate the electoral roll. The Election Commission admitted that they have revoked the status a number of Assistant Registrars who tried to manipulate the electoral roll by, for example, registering voters who have already died. But this is not sufficient. It must take legal action against such parties / individuals in order to send a strong signal that the Election Commission is serious about maintaining the integrity of the electoral roll and to dissuade irresponsible parties and individuals from trying to manipulate the electoral roll.

    For example, the DAP in Negeri Sembilan took the initiative to lodge a police report in February 2012 to ask the Election Commission to investigate and charge the 2 Assistant Registrars whose status as ARs were revoked by the EC because they were found to have tried to register already deceased voters. But 9 months later, no action has been taken, either by the Election Commission, the police or the Attorney General’s Chambers.

    As long as such irresponsible actions conducted by irresponsible parties and individuals continue to go unpunished, attempts to manipulate the electoral roll will continue. If the Election Commission is indeed serious about preserving the integrity and accuracy of the electoral roll, it must not only revoke the status of irresponsible Assistant Registrars and delete the records of dubious registrations, it must also take concrete legal action to see those responsible for these manipulation attempts charged and punished under Section 3 of the Election Offences Act 1954.

    When asked, the Election Commission admitted that to date, no one has been charged under this Section of the Election Offences Act for attempting to manipulate the electoral roll.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist

    This press statement was published by DAP Malaysia.

  • MERAP Final Report and Recommendations

    The full report can be downloaded here.

    The Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (MERAP) started in February 2012 with the following objectives: “to conducting a comprehensive analysis of all possible problems in the electoral roll across time and space; to highlight different areas of responsibility / jurisdiction of different government agencies pertaining to problems with the electoral roll; and to propose methods by which these problems in the electoral roll can be reduced / rectified”.

    With a team of four comprising MERAP Director, Dr. Ong Kian Ming, a lecturer and political analyst at UCSI University and three researchers discovered far more problems with the electoral roll than originally anticipated. In total, 25 types of problems were discovered in the electoral roll, 15 pertaining to non-postal voters and 10 pertaining to postal voters (See Appendix 1 for full list of problems).

    Some of the preliminary findings of MERAP were published on Malaysiakini (see Appendix 2 for links to these articles) and has been reported both in the mainstream as well as online press.

    MERAP is disappointed that the Election Commission has not been sincere in its offer to have a constructive engagement regarding the problems which the project team has discovered in the electoral roll. After a closed door presentation by MERAP to the Election Commission on the 5th of July, 2012, which was facilitated by the Majlis Professor Negara (MPN), the Election Commission chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, extended an offer to Dr. Ong Kian Ming to have future closed door dialogue sessions where the EC would respond and clarify to other additional problems discovered in the electoral roll. MERAP then provided the EC with a 36 page report on problems pertaining to postal voters in the electoral roll on the 1st of August, 2012. The EC initially promised to meet with MERAP after the Hari Raya holidays at the end of August 2012. After Dr. Ong announced his decision to join the DAP on the 27th of August, 2012, the EC responded by saying ‘since you have become a leader of a political party holding a position, the EC can no longer meet you as an individual. The decision has been made by the EC and has been the policy of the EC. The engagement (meet eye to eye) with the EC has to come from the political party. This is to ensure fairness to all political parties’. MERAP finds this response totally unacceptable as Dr. Ong has not resigned from his position as an academic at UCSI nor has MERAP suddenly stopped being an academic study just because Dr. Ong has joined a political party.

    This is symptomatic of a larger pattern exhibited by the EC of being defensive when being criticized and wanting to dictate its own terms when working with other stakeholders who are interested in making the electoral process in Malaysia more fair and transparent.

    It is noteworthy that two out of the six recommendations made by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform which have not been implemented or in the process of being implemented – the setting up of a special task force to deal with voters who submit false information; and allowing NGOs and political parties to object to the gazetted electoral rollLabels – have to do with the accuracy of the electoral roll, which is the focus area of study for MERAP. (For the record, MERAP believes that there are more than six recommendations by the PSC which have not or are not in the process of being implemented, the most important being the cleaning up of the electoral roll). MERAP notes that there have been, to our knowledge, no reported cases of any individual for making false statements during the process of voter registration even though there is a provision in the Election Offences Act 1954 that makes this an offense.[1]

    MERAP makes the following EIGHT recommendations to strengthen the process of ensuring that the electoral roll is accurate and transparent:

    (i)            Strengthen legislation to make any attempt to manipulate the electoral roll by any person or party, including the paying voters to change their IC address for the purposes of changing voting constituency, illegal and punishable by imprisonment or fine or both
    (ii)          Thorough review of the process of issuing ICs and changing IC numbers undertaken by the National Registration Department / Jabatan Pendaftara Negara
    (iii)       Establishment of an investigation team by the EC which includes involvement of political parties, the police and civil society stakeholders to conduct on the ground investigations into possible manipulation of the electoral roll including problematic voter registrations[2]
    (iv)        Establish a Parliamentary Select Committee on the Electoral Roll as recommended by the PSC on Electoral Reform to have oversight over the EC’s efforts to clean up the roll and also to question and make accountable the National Registration Department
    (v)           Allowing political parties and civil society stakeholders to make objections to the quarterly electoral roll updates as well as the already gazetted electoral roll
    (vi)           Raising the limit on the number of objections which a person can make and abolishing the fee for each objection
    (vii)         Publish and make available complete quarterly updates and gazetted electoral roll to political parties and civil society stakeholders
    (viii)       Strengthening capacity within the EC and among the political parties and civil society stakeholders to detect potential problems in the electoral roll

    Needless to say, all of the recommendations require the cooperation of the EC as well as the related government agencies and ministers in order for them to be implemented. In terms of strengthening capacity to detect potential problems in the electoral roll, MERAP has prepared a preliminary ‘Do-It-Yourself’ kit where anyone with access to a personal computer and a spreadsheet program / software such as excel could analyze any electoral roll of any constituency in order to detect potential problems.

    MERAP may continue with further research and investigations into the electoral roll if it is successful in future funding applications. MERAP would like to encourage political parties and civil society stakeholders to continue to highlight problems pertaining to the electoral roll as these problems can be found in each quarterly electoral roll update. The final MERAP report, the DIY kit and MERAP related press articles and videos can be found at the following website: http://malaysianelectoralrollproject.blogspot.com/[3]

    Appendix 1: Full list of Problems Discovered in the Electoral Roll by MERAP
    Non-Postal Voter Problems
    1.       Voters who are above 85 years old
    2.       Voters with the same name and some with the same / similar date of birth
    3.       Voters with the same name and address
    4.       Voters who share the same old IC number
    5.       Voters whose old ICs were ‘transferred’ to another voter
    6.       Voters being given New New IC numbers
    7.       Mismatch in the Date of Birth
    8.       Mismatch in the gender indicated by the IC number and EC data
    9.       Kod 71 voters with only one name
    10.   Voters who do not have House Addresses / No Rumah, even though other newly registered voters in the same locality have House Addresses / No Rumah
    11.   Many Voters registered in one address
    12.   ‘Foreigners’ in the Electoral Roll
    13.   Unknown Additions to and Deletions from the Electoral Roll
    14.   Kod-J Government Agency registering suspicious voters
    15.   Voters whose IC address is different from their voting constituency

    Postal Voter Problems
    1.         Retaining both the status of ordinary and postal  voter
    2.         Marrying oneself
    3.         “Flipping” of postal voter IDs
    4.         Same voter begin added and deleted in the same quarterly update
    5.         Double registration of postal voters’ spouse
    6.         Flipping of IC
    7.         Police officers starting their careers around / above their retirement age
    8.         Spouse of army personnel being converted as army personnel above maximum recruitment age
    9.         Army recruit at above maximum recruitment age and gets transferred around
    10.      Spouse of Non GOF / PGA police force registered as postal voter

    Appendix 2: MERAP’s Preliminary Findings published in Malaysiakini

    1. 10 Major Problems in the EC’s electoral roll (April 7, 2012): http://malaysiakini.com/news/194373
    2. ‘Dubious’ voters may decide GE13 (April 8, 2012): http://malaysiakini.com/news/194435
    3. Electoral Roll: What else is the EC Hiding (April 24, 2012): http://malaysiakini.com/news/195823
    4. EC has not been honest in its rebuttals (May 7, 2012): http://malaysiakini.com/news/197145
    5. Non-resident voters: EC economizes with ‘truth’ (May 24, 2012):http://malaysiakini.com/news/198179
    6. Questionable foreign born voters in the electoral roll (June 2, 2012):http://malaysiakini.com/news/199721
    7. The strange case of recycled ICs in Sabah (June 14, 2012): http://malaysiakini.com/news/200815

    [1] Section 3(1)a of the Election Offences Act 1954 (Act 5) states that Any person who knowingly makes any false statement on or in connection with any application to be placed on any register of electors should be liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to a fine not exceeding five thousand ringgit or to both such imprisonment and fine.
    [2] After all, legislation was introduced prior to the 2004 general election to establish an elections enforcement team comprising an EC officer, a police officer,  a local authority representative and representatives from political parties to monitor and control the activities of the candidates during the campaign period (Section 27 of the Election Offences Act 1954 (Act 5))
    [3] Dr. Ong Kian Ming would like to extend his sincerest thanks and gratitude to his research team especially lead researcher Lee Wee Tak for their excellent work in this project. He would also like to thank BERSIH 2.0’s organizing committee for allowing him to share MERAP’s findings at various BERSIH functions around the country.
  • Belanjawan 2013: Jawapan Pakatan Rakyat kepada Chua Tee Yong

    Kami merujuk kepada kenyataan akhbar yang dibuat oleh Datuk Chua Tee Yong yang menuduh angka-angka di dalam Belanjawan Pakatan Rakyat 2013 adalah tidak tepat berdasarkan perkiraan ringkas beliau seperti berikut:

    1. Bentuk kenaikan gaji hasil dari dasar-dasar Pakatan Rakyat adalah kenaikan gaji guru sebanyak RM2.4 bilion (hasil dari pelaksanaan Elaun Khas Perguruan sebanyak RM500 setiap bulan bagi setiap orang guru), kenaikan gaji kakitangan awam sebanyak RM2 bilion (hasil dari pelaksanaan gaji minima RM1,100 di sektor awam dan pelarasan gaji kepada semua kakitangan) dan kenaikan gaji anggota polis sebanyak RM754 juta (hasil dari cadangan untuk membekukan pengambilan baru anggota polis sehingga tahun 2015).

    2. Mengikut perkiraan beliau, jumlah kesemua kenaikan gaji ini sebanyak RM5.1 bilion tidak selari dengan angka di dalamBelanjawan Pakatan Rakyat 2013 yang menunjukkan pertambahan gaji sebanyak hanya sebanyak RM4 bilion.

    Berdasarkan perkiraan mudah itu, beliau menuduh Belanjawan Pakatan Rakyat mengandungi angka-angka yang menipu dan hasil dari penyelidikan yang kucar-kacir.

    Jawatankuasa Dasar dan Manifesto Pakatan Rakyat yang dipertanggungjawabkan untuk menyediakan dokumen-dokumen rasmi termasuklah Belanjawan Pakatan Rakyat 2013 ada mengambil kira semua perkara ini dalam menentukan angka-angka yang digunapakai.

    Seharusnya Datuk Chua Tee Yong membaca sepenuhnya keseluruhan dokumen Belanjawan Pakatan Rakyat 2013 yang menerangkan pendekatan Pakatan Rakyat untuk menggunakan jumlah anggota polis sedia ada bagi memenuhi tuntutan melindungi keselamatan awam tanpa perlu menambah tenaga kerja melalui pengambilan baru. Ini berbeza dengan pendekatan Barisan Nasional yang ingin meningkatkan pengambilan baru sehingga mencecah 30% menjelang 2015, yang sudah tentu akan meningkatkan tanggungan gaji.

    Cadangan Pakatan Rakyat adalah dengan memfokuskan anggota polis sedia ada kepada kerja-kerja membanteras jenayah dengan menukar anggota Cawangan Khas ke Jabatan Siasatan Jenayah. Penjimatan dari langkah ini (kerana tiada pengambilan baru menjelang 2015) bolehlah digunakan untuk menaikkan gaji anggota polis.

    Maka, ia satu proses yang akan berjalan dalam satu tempoh, bukannya kenaikan gaji serentak kerana proses penukaran anggota Cawangan Khas melibatkan latihan dan lain-lain. Sebab itu di mukasurat 8 Belanjawan Pakatan Rakyat 2013 ada menyebut bahawa Pakatan Rakyat mengunjurkan kenaikan gaji 15% sekiranya proses ini berjalan.

    Oleh kerana ia melibatkan satu proses, maka ia juga melibatkan kenaikan berperingkat dalam satu tempoh masa kerana kenaikan gaji itu perlu dibiayai dari penjimatan kerana tiada pengambilan baru dalam tempoh 3 tahun.

    Kesan kewangan bagi tahun 2013 dianggarkan satu pertiga dari jumlah kenaikan gaji RM754 juta bagi kesemua kakitangan, iaitu sekitar RM250 juta.

    Jawatankuasa Dasar dan Manifesto Pakatan Rakyat memutuskan bahawa kenaikan ini boleh dibiayai dengan menyemak semula perbelanjaan untuk “Faedah-faedah Kewangan Yang Lain” (Kod Akaun: 15000) yang telah mencecah RM1.04 bilion dalam tahun 2013.

    Kerajaan Pakatan Rakyat akan meneliti bentuk-bentuk faedah bukan gaji untuk mengelakkan pembaziran, dengan memastikan hanya faedah bukan gaji kepada kakitangan awam disediakan pada kos yang berpatutan. Ini penting bagi memastikan Kod Akaun 15000 (“Faedah-faedah Kewangan Yang Lain”) tidak melibatkan peruntukan bagi perbelanjaan yang boros. Kami yakin penjimatan dari semakan terhadap perbelanjaan faedah bukan gaji boleh menampung kesan kewangan bagi tahun 2013 yang dianggarkan RM250 juta itu.

    Mengambil kira pertimbangan ini, kenaikan peruntukan gaji kakitangan kerajaan hanyalah RM4 bilion seperti yang terkandung di dalam Belanjawan Pakatan Rakyat 2013.

    Kami mengucapkan tahniah kepada Dato’ Chua Tee Yong kerana mengambil sedikit masa untuk meneliti angka-angka yang dibentangkan di dalam Belanjawan Pakatan Rakyat 2013.

    Namun, beliau lebih berhati-hati apabila ingin berhujah menggunakan angka kerana reputasi beliau sebelum ini pun terjejas teruk apabila angka-angka yang digunakan sering bertukar-tukar.

    Bagi pihak Jawatankuasa Dasar & Manifesto Pakatan Rakyat




    Sumber: Keadilan Daily

  • Disclosure of the World Bank Public Expenditure Report 2011 is necessary to prevent future wastage and leakages in infrastructure improvement in schools as outlined by the National Education Blueprint

    Having a physical environment that is conducive to learning is a necessary component of any education system. In government funded schools, it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education to ensure that the physical and other related infrastructure in these schools meet at least a minimum acceptable standard.

    Sadly, despite the billions of ringgit poured into building physical and other related infrastructure, the returns on this investment have been very poor due to wastage, leakages and corruption. Without identifying where and how these wastages occurred, we have little confidence that the ambitious targets to upgrade the physical infrastructure in schools, as outlined by the National Education Blueprint (NEB) 2013 to 2015, will succeed where past plans have failed.

    The most damning evidence of the failure of the MoE to deliver effective and accountable physical and other related improvements in our schools comes from Exhibit 6-11 in the NEB.

    Despite spending almost RM20b of the RM40b allocated to education in the 9th Malaysia Plan on physical and other infrastructure improvements, the delivered outcomes were shockingly poor. (See Table 1 below)

    Table 1: Physical Infrastructure Improvement Results 2005 to 2011

    For example, despite the almost RM16.0b spent on physical infrastructure development, the number of schools without access to clean water was decreased by only 85. Despite the RM2.8b spent on IT infrastructure, the number of schools without computer labs was reduced by only 68. What is more worrying is the statistic that the number of schools without adequate science labs has actually INCREASED by 336!

    At the same time, according to the World Bank Public Expenditure Report 2011 (Exhibit 6-8 in the NEB), there has been a consistent trend of overspending by the MoE in its operating budget, peaking at 10.7% (or approximately RM2 billion) in 2010.

    Without a comprehensive review of overspending and wastage by the MoE in the past and without a comprehensive review of the manner in which projects are contracted out, there is little chance that the nice sounding KPIs outlined in the NEB will be delivered. This is one of the reasons why the Pakatan Rakyat Education Taskforce (PET) is asking the MoE to make available to the public the World Bank Public Expenditure Report 2011 as well as the UNESCO Report, Tan Sri Prof Dato’ Dzukifli Abdul Razak’s Malaysia Review Panel report and the International Review Panel’s report.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    DAP Elections Strategist
    14th September, 2012

  • Why I joined the DAP

    Before the DAP, I have never been a member of any other political party despite having worked for two think-tanks that were linked to the MCA and Gerakan. Why am I making the decision to join a political party now and why did I choose the DAP?

    I believe that our country is at a critical juncture in its history where for the first time since achieving our independence, we have a credible and strong opposition capable of governing at the federal level. This has been most clearly demonstrated in the state governments in Penang and Selangor which have vastly outperformed their predecessors in terms of delivering transparent, accountable, responsiveness and caring governments.

    At the same time, despite the various transformation initiatives which have been rolled out by our Prime Minister Najib Razak, there is still a glaring absence of fundamental structural reforms that are necessary to spark a genuine process of transformation. Not only is there the business-as-usual way of ill-conceived and murky deals being done — via the various 1MDB-linked land and asset acquisitions, just to name one — we also see a disturbing ramp-up in fear-mongering attempts by the BN-linked papers such as Utusan in order to raise feelings of ethnic insecurity.

    Things seem to be getting worse for the country as a desperate regime clings to power, seemingly at all costs. As such, the time for sitting on the academic sidelines and commentating as an analyst is over. It is time, at least for me, to take the plunge and to play a more active role to bring about a necessary regime change in the country.

    While some may say that I could have continued to be a critical voice in the public sphere without joining an opposition political party, especially in the area of evaluating government policy, there are some natural limitations to what one person working in a non-political context can achieve. Playing the role of a check and balance on those in power can be most effectively carried out by opposition political parties and politicians, because that is one of their primary responsibilities.

    Coming up with coherent alternative government policies needs to occur within the context of opposition political parties because they are the ones who have the power to implement these policies if they come to power. The important process of discussing and debating policy platforms and political positions can only take place within the context of political parties and one needs to be a member of a party to contribute effectively. While I very much value the voice of civil society, I feel that I can play a more effective role, moving forward, as a member of a political party in providing inputs in my areas of expertise.

    Why do I choose to join the DAP specifically?

    Firstly, the position which the DAP has taken and continues to take, on major national issues, is consistent with my own political beliefs. The DAP’s vision of a more equitable and just Malaysia that is secular, free from corruption, governed democratically and by the rule of law is a vision which I very much share in. My many columns and comments in newspapers will reflect this, I feel, starting from the time when I was working in two BN-linked think-tanks — the Institute of Strategic Analysis and Policy Research (INSAP) and the Socio-Economic Development and Research (SEDAR) Institute. For example, I have been writing and researching on the issues of electoral reform and of ensuring a clean electoral roll since 2001.

    Secondly, I have great respect for the many sacrifices which many of the DAP leaders have made because of their political beliefs including being beaten up, humiliated and even jailed under the various repressive laws that continue to exist in this country. Leaders like Lim Kit Siang, Lim Guan Eng, Karpal Singh and Teresa Kok, just to name a few, have demonstrated their willingness to walk the walk during their many years of struggle in the political arena.

    Thirdly, I have utmost confidence in the leadership of the DAP in its intention to renew its ranks and to bring in fresh perspectives and ideas. My experience in interacting and working with many of the younger DAP leaders including Tony Pua (who invited me to blog about education-related matters way back in 2006), Anthony Loke, Liew Chin Tong, Teo Nie Ching, Chong Chieng Jen, Hannah Yeoh, Wong Kah Woh and Teo Kok Seong has been very positive and has reinforced my confidence that the DAP will be in very good hands in the future. Furthermore, I am very encouraged by the DAP’s efforts in recruiting young and capable future leaders into their ranks including Zairil Khir Johari, Steven Sim and Kasturi Patto.

    What kind of role do I see myself playing within the DAP?

    I remain committed to the issues which I am passionate about and will continue to highlight issues pertaining to electoral reform, education policy, decentralisation and other aspects of economic policy. Thankfully, I will not be alone as I will have the opportunity to supplement and complement what other DAP leaders have said on these issues. If the opportunity arises, I will also highlight other policy-related issues which are timely and important but which I feel sufficient attention has not been given to.

    I will also continue my work as an elections analyst to provide insights and analysis to the DAP.

    It will be an interesting learning experience as I navigate the demands of being a member of a political party and to make whatever contributions I can to the DAP as a member. I will obviously have to give up my “hat” of a political analyst but it is a small sacrifice to play in the larger scheme of things.

    I look forward to the new challenges that are coming my way and I am excited about the prospects of playing a small but hopefully meaningful role in the context of bringing about positive change to our country as part of the DAP.

    (I am in the process of completing the final report on the findings of the Malaysian Electoral Analysis Project (MERAP) which will be published online. I am on sabbatical leave from UCSI University until the end of the year.)

    This article was published in The Malaysian Insider.

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