• The strange case of recycled ICs in Sabah

    Many of the problems uncovered thus far by the Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (Merap) are not directly attributable to the Election Commission (EC).

    The responsibility of issuing identity cards and ensuring that as far as possible the holders of these cards are Malaysian citizens who live in valid residences is under the jurisdiction of the National Registration Department (NRD).

    While it would be more reassuring if the EC were playing a more pro-active role by questioning the NRD regarding some of the problems identified, it would be unfair to blame the EC, for example, if NRD were giving out ICs to non-Malaysians, thereby allowing these people to registered as voters.

    In this article, I want to highlight a few major problems with the allocation of IC numbers by the NRD to voters in Sabah, a state where many cases of non-citizens being given ICs have been long documented under ‘Project IC’ or ‘Project M’ with the intention of wresting the state government back from Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) after it left the BN coalition just prior to the 1990 general elections.

    These examples are especially troubling because it shows active complicity by the NRD in changing IC numbers, transferring IC numbers from one person to another and allowing more than one person to ‘share’ the same IC number.

    My preliminary analysis, obtained by comparing voter details in the electoral roll used in Sabah in the 2008 general elections with the electoral roll updated to Quarter 3 (Q3) of 2011, revealed the following problems with regard to the IC numbers of voters in Sabah:

    1) The same voter being given a new IC number

    2) A voter’s old IC number being given to another voter

    3) Two voters sharing the same old IC number

    4) Voters with the same name and same date of birth registered in the same constituency

     Same voter given a new IC number

    As far as I know, there are no specified procedures for a civilian holding a civilian identity card to change his or her IC number.

    And yet, my preliminary investigation uncovered 63 cases in Sabah where the IC number of a voter in the 2008 electoral roll was subsequently changed. (These are the same voters because the data shows them having the same old IC number).

    And none of these cases involved a change in IC number because of these voters were allocated a number which did not match the voters’ gender – ICs ending with an even number for ‘females’ and those ending with an odd number for ‘males’.

    Some cases involved minor tweaks, including changing the date of birth by one digit, perhaps because of an earlier data input error.

    But there were also many cases where the date of birth of a voter was changed completely. The table below shows some examples.

    For example, Janggok bin Danau’s date of birth as indicated by his IC was changed from May 6, 1961 to Dec 31, 1951. Taib bin Ali’s date of birth was changed from Nov 30, 1970 to March 21, 1959. Ahmad bin Kalanayakan’s date of birth was changed from June 30, 1963 to Oct 9, 1949.

    NONE

    Even though the 2008 IC numbers for these voters are no longer on the electoral roll, this change in IC number is worrying because it could potentially be part of a much larger and systematic attempt to ‘mask’ the trail of giving out ICs to non-Malaysians as part of ‘Project IC’ in Sabah.

    And if this can be done in Sabah, it could easily be replicated in other parts of Malaysia.

    A voter’s old IC number given to another voter

    More worrying is the finding that the old IC numbers of some voters have been recycled and given to another voter.

    My preliminary investigation uncovered 35 of such cases in Sabah. In all of these cases, the old IC numbers have been ‘left out’ in the details provided by the EC website.

    For example, in 2008, Chui Vin Ming (male) with new IC number 390315125155 and old IC number H0269593, was a registered voter in Tawau. But according to the EC website, this old IC number now belongs to Misra binti Idris (new IC: 580614125662) who is also a registered voter in Tawau. (The most recent screenshots of the details of these two voters from the EC website is shown below).

    How can the IC number of one voter be given to another?

    In this particular case, how can it be that the old IC number of a Chinese male voter, who is born in 1939, is given to a female Malay voter, who is born in 1958?

    In addition, why is the old IC number of the Chinese voter, Chui Vin Ming, excluded from his details in the EC website?

    Screenshot of Chui Ving Ming (note that the old IC number is missing).

    NONE

    Screenshot showing Misra binti Idris having Chui Vin Ming’s old IC number.

    NONE

    In another case, the old IC number of Amiri bin Sakka (new IC: 661014125831, old IC: H0534679) who is registered in Kinabantangan was given to Hartini binti Daud (new IC: 690118126030) who is a registered in Tawau.

    Screenshot of Amiri bin Sakka (note that the old IC is missing).

    NONE

    Screenshot of Haritini Binti Daud having Amiri bin Sakka’s old IC number.

    NONE

    In case someone considers the possibility that these could be old IC numbers being given to spouses (if this is indeed legally permissible), included among these cases are those where old IC numbers have been given from one male voter to another male voter and from one female voter to another female voter.

    The table below shows the voter details of some of the cases uncovered.

    NONE

    These are cases where voters whose old ICs have been given to others, but still remains on the electoral roll. I also found cases of two voters who were deleted from the electoral roll after ‘giving away’ their old IC numbers.

    For example, I found a voter by the name of Badariah binti Zabdi (new IC number: 610911125540, old IC number H0509518) who was registered in Tawau in the 2008 GE electoral roll.

    In the Q3 2011 electoral roll, Badariah’s new IC number was changed to 620112125842, but her date of birth in the EC records remained that of her old IC number, which was Sept 11, 1961.

    (I was able to ‘detect’ this case because her date of birth in the EC records did not correspond with her IC number). However, according to latest check of the EC website, the IC number in question – 620112125842/H0509518 – now belongs to Norhayati binti Ismail, whose date of birth has been ‘updated’ to Jan 12, 1962.

    NONE

    Badariah binti Zabdi has now become Norhayati binti Ismail with a new IC number and date of birth. The only thing which unites them is the common old IC number. Badariah’s former new IC number – 610911125540 – no longer exists in the EC database.

    I also found another voter by the name of Zainal bin Sila (new IC: 59051560125447, old IC: H0664360) who was registered in Kimanis in the 2008 GE electoral roll.

    In the Q3 2011 electoral roll, Zainal’s new IC number was changed to 650422125431, but his date of birth in the EC records remained that of his old IC number which was May 15, 1959.

    However, according to the latest check of the EC website, the IC number in question (650422125431/H0664360) now belongs to a Wasimin bin Mosuling, whose date of birth has been ‘updated’ to April 22, 1965. Zainal bin Sila has now become Wasimin bin Mosuling with a new IC number and date of birth.

    Unless both of these voters are part of a witness protection programme, which requires them to change their IC and identity, the changes highlighted look very suspicious.

    Can old IC numbers be transferred from one voter to another? Are old IC numbers being ‘recycled’ and given to ‘new’ voters so as to make them less ‘suspicious’ on paper? These questions can only be answered by the NRD.

    Two voters sharing the same old IC number

    In my preliminary investigation, I also found 21 cases of two voters sharing the same old IC numbers.

    Screenshot of Tawasil bin Omar and Hasdar bin Salem sharing the same old IC number (H0563747).

    NONE

    For example, I found Tawasil bin Omar (new IC: 430306125675, old IC: H0563747), a voter in Sepanggar, sharing the same old IC number as Hasdar bin Salem (new IC: 600625125479, old IC: H0563747), a voter in Putatan (see screenshot above).

    Screenshot of Milah binti Abjah and Amin bin Sulaiman sharing the same old IC number: H0502359.

    NONE

    I also found another example of a male and female voter from different constituencies sharing the same old IC number – Milah binti Abjah (new IC: 680802126134, old IC: H0502359) who is registered in Sepanggar and Amin bin Sulaiman (new IC: 650101125801, old IC: H0502359) who is registered in Putatan.

    NONE

    A disturbing finding is that when these old IC numbers are keyed into the EC website, no entries are detected. Only when these old IC numbers are keyed in under the ‘Semak Isi Rumah’ function do the names belonging to these old IC numbers appear.

    Voters with the same name and same date of birth registered in the same constituency

    Here, I found three cases of voters who share the same name and same date of birth who are registered in the same constituency. While it is possible that people who are born in the same area on the same day may end up having the same name, the case of the two voters named Pentammah A/P Muthaloo stands out.

    These two voters have the same name but different IC numbers (new IC: 541209045018, old IC 8139940 and new IC: 541209025682, old IC: H083889).

    Both of them are born on the same day but in different states. One was born in Malacca (state code 04) and the other in Johor (02).

    But by a great stroke of luck/coincidence, both of them happen to end up in Sabah and registered not only in the same parliamentary constituency of Sepanggar but also in the same state constituency, Karambunai, and in the same polling district of Kurol Melangi and the same locality of Kurol Melangi.

    Screenshot of Pentammah A/P Muthaloo (same date of birth, same locality, same district).

    NONE

    Tip of the iceberg

    The cases identified in this preliminary analysis in Sabah are not isolated cases. More than half of the problematic cases identified (71 out of 130 or 55%) fall into the range of ‘dubious’ IC numbers highlighted in Dr Chong Eng Leong’s book ‘Lest We Forget’ – H288001 to H0384000 and H48001 to H0576000 (pg 21).

    One cannot help but suspect that these cases are part of a much larger set of inter-related problems which arose because of the improper distribution of ICs to non-citizens.

    The distribution of ICs to illegal immigrants in Sabah is not a new story. It is happening to this day as indicated by a recent news report that an NRD official was among the 19 people arrested forissuing fake MyKads.

    If the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Illegal Immigrants in Sabah is one that should be taken seriously, its terms of reference must include an investigation into the issue of ICs which were issued to non-citizens and the number of these non-citizens who found their way into the electoral roll.

    The cases identified here is but the tip of a much larger iceberg.


    ONG KIAN MING is the project director of the Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (Merap).

    This article was published by Malaysiakini.

  • Questionable foreign-born citizens in voters roll

    The Election Commission (EC) produced a booklet entitled ‘The Truth Behind the Accusations and Lies towards the Election Commission’ on its website. In this booklet, the EC tried to defend itself against 12 allegations made with regard to the electoral roll.

    I have written here and here to show that:

    1) The EC has not been consistent in its boundary ‘correction’ exercise.

    2) That the EC had deleted 14,577 names in Quarter 2, 2011 because the records of these voters were not active in the National Registration Department (NRD).

    3) That the EC should be greatly concerned by the fact that 56 out of the 57 voters registered in the past year in Kampung Melayu Majidee in Johor Bahru did not have house numbers or street names and were foreign-born, meaning the 7th and 8th digits in their IC number is ‘71′.

    In this article, I want to show that the EC cannot reassure us that there are no foreigners/non-citizens in the electoral roll because it is the NRD which issues the ICs and not the EC.

    Specifically, I want to focus on voters in Selangor without house numbers and street addresses which have been registered by government agencies since the 2008 general election.

    NONEWhat I have found thus far is very disturbing because it points to the presence of government agencies (not the EC) which have been actively registering foreign-born ‘citizens’ who do not have house numbers or street names even though they are located in urban constituencies in Selangor.

    And instead of investigating these cases or questioning the NRD and these government agencies, the EC has chosen to stay silent.

    The EC assigns a code number to each voter registration application so that it can keep track of these applications. These applications are divided into various categories with a specific letter assigned to each category.

    For example, applications which come through the post office electronically start with the letter ‘G’, those which come in through the police start with the letter ‘K’ and those which come in through the army start with the letter ‘Z’.

    Table 1 below lists the categories belonging to each letter.

    NONEThe code number assigned to each new voter registration application is not given to the political parties nor is it publicly displayed during the quarterly electoral roll updates. But this information is recorded by the EC.

    In this article, I want to focus on voters in Selangor without house numbers and street names whose applications start with the letter ‘J’, indicating that they have been registered by a government agency which is not the Election Commission.

    Informal reports from different sources have indicated that these government agencies include the Jabatan Hal Ehwal Khas (Jasa), a unit under the Ministry of Information and Jabatan Kemajuan Masyarakat (Kemas), a unit under the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development.

    The primary reason I chose to focus on applications beginning with the letter ‘J’ is because of the newly-registered voters in the Kampung Melayu Majidee locality in the Johor Bahru constituency, almost all whom do not have house numbers and street names and had application codes beginning with the letter ‘J’.

    I choose the state of Selangor because this is expected to be one of the key battleground states which the BN is desperately trying to win back and which Pakatan Rakyat is desperately trying to hold on to.

    My methodology was very simple. I managed to obtain a complete electoral roll for Selangor that was updated to Quarter 3 of 2011.

    This electoral roll included voter registration application codes for newly-registered voters from 2008 onwards. I filtered out all those applications with Kod 71 in their IC and then narrowed my search to those applications without house numbers and street names.

    NONEOut of 506 applications with Kod 71 and without house numbers and street names, 444 or 88% had application codes starting with the letter ‘J’. And almost 80% out of these 506 applications were concentrated in four parliamentary seats – Ampang, Gombak, Kelana Jaya and Serdang.

    The EC would of course try to explain this away by saying that they want to empower government agencies to increase voter registration rates across the country. The fact that many of these Kod 71 voters do not have house numbers or addresses is because they live in kampongs without house numbers or street names.

    These would not be valid explanations for similar reasons as the Kampung Melayu Majidee case. All of these voters are registered to vote in urban areas and all of them are registered to localities where almost everyone else has a house number and street name.

    For example, of the 967 voters registered in the Kampung Sri Gombak Indah locality in the Gombak parliamentary seat, 96% have house numbers and street names. Of those who do not have house numbers or street names, 80% have Kod 71 in their ICs, all of them have voter registration applications starting with the letter ‘J’ (Table 2 below).

    What is even more disturbing is that a large number of these applications were submitted at the same time – in March 2011- with the ‘nosiriborang’ numbers running sequentially, meaning that they were most probably registered by the same person from a government agency.

    NONE

    Among these applications, I also found voters with a single name, which raises the question of whether these are similar cases to‘Mismah’, who was alleged to have been recently granted citizenship so that she could be included in the electoral roll. (Table 3 below)

    NONE

    As an additional check, I examined the Quarter 4 (Q4) 2011 electoral roll update to see if there had been new registrations in the localities with a large number of Kod 71 ‘J’ applications without house numbers. My findings confirmed my initial suspicion.

    Of those voters in the Q4 2011 update without house numbers, all of them had Kod 71 IC numbers. A sample from Kg Sri Gombak Indah in P98 Gombak is reproduced in Table 4 below.

    Unfortunately, I was not able to obtain the registration application code for the Q4 2011 electoral roll update but I am fairly confident that application codes for these voters begin with the letter ‘J’.

    NONE

    Where does this leave us?

    Some might say that the small number of voters identified in this article is not a cause for concern given that it is but a small percentage of the 400,000 newly-registered voters in Selangor since the 2008 general elections. This would be a mistake for two reasons.

    Firstly, if the NRD can issue ICs to foreign-born ‘citizens’ without proper addresses in urban areas, could it also issue ICs to other individuals with proper house numbers and street names and state codes which do not show that they are not born overseas?

    After all, there have been many well-documented cases fitting this description in Sabah under ‘Project IC’ where non-citizens of Indonesian and Filipino descent were given ICs which indicated that they were born in Malaysia.

    Could there be a ‘Project IC’ happening right now in Selangor – to give ICs to the many non-citizens who are working in the Klang Valley so that they can vote?

    NONESecondly, if there is a concerted effort being carried out by a government agency (or agencies) to register foreign-born ‘citizens’ without proper IC addresses, could this government agency (or agencies) also register other individuals with proper house numbers and street names and state codes which do not show that they are born overseas?

    As of Q3 of 2011, new voter applications with the registration code ‘J’ numbered 42,540 in the state of Selangor, many of them in marginal constituencies.

    In other words, what I have discovered here are the more obvious cases, using rather strict criteria – no house addresses, code ‘J’ voter applications, Kod 71 in the IC numbers. There could easily be many other cases of non-citizens being given ICs with proper house address and non-71 state codes and they could easily register through other channels including political parties or by going to the post office.

    The cases which can be easily detected are probably the tip of the iceberg.

    The EC, instead of shifting the focus to harmless caricatures which appear during the campaign period, should instead do a proper audit of these cases and call out the NRD if it was found that many of the ICs were irregularly issued.

    Without these steps, we cannot have the assurance that our electoral roll is not being populated by non-citizens.


    ONG KIAN MING is a lecturer and political analyst at UCSI University. He is also the Project Director of the Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (Merap).

    This article was published by Malaysiakini.

  • Main challenges for a PR government

    What happens in the unlikely event that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) wins and maintains control of the federal government after the 13th general election? This is a question which few people have tried to address systematically. In this article, I want to highlight what I think will be the five main challenges facing a PR federal government as a way to contextualise the policy options which such a government will have to address.

    I have summarised these five main challenges into five “P”s: (i) Dealing with the “Past” (ii) Distributing “Power” between the federal and state governments (iii) Coming up with a new set of “Plans” in the economic, political and social arenas (iv) Focusing on a smaller number of “Priorities” which can be delivered within 100 days and one year and finally (v) Finding a set of “Procedures” to deal with disagreements within the PR coalition.

    (i) Past

    Having been in power for 55 years, there are bound to be a whole list of “legacy” issues which a new government has to figure out how to deal with. It would not be practical for a new federal government to conduct a massive witch hunt to weed out all those who have paid bribes to the previous government to obtain contracts, to find evidence to convict all BN politicians who have received bribes or have amassed wealth beyond their means or to sack all civil servants who have been complicit in corrupt dealings involving the previous government. But at the same time, it makes sense for a PR government to outline a clear set of rules with regard to how it will, for example, deal with dubious contracts which the government has signed with private companies. This is important because there is a great temptation for PR to blame the previous BN government for many of the problems that it will face when it is governing. Instead of blaming BN in an ad-hoc manner throughout its first term in government, it would be better for PR to outline a place to clear out the skeletons in the cupboard early in its tenure in power.

    PR has already given some indication as to the contracts it will attempt to cancel or renegotiate when it comes to power, namely the contracts with toll operators and independent power producers. There are bound to be many other smaller contracts which are potentially disadvantageous to the government which could be renegotiated or cancelled. The criteria for contract renegotiation or cancellation need to be spelled out as soon as possible as a way of assuring the markets and the many companies which have large contracts with the government.

    Similarly, PR needs to figure out the extent to which it wants to change the government procurements process. It will be a tricky balancing act since many of the current contractors have well established relationships with Umno who are also Malay entrepreneurs who will question PR’s commitment to protecting Malay entrepreneurship if they are cut off from these government contracts. At the same time, this also presents an opportunity to introduce open tender processes that could potentially save the government billions of ringgit in expenditure.

    More than important than mere contracts is the fate of those who wrongly benefited from the awarding of these contracts and other government-related concessions and favours. To what extent will a PR government go after the likes of Tajudin Ramli, those involved in PKFZ, NFC and Scorpene submarine scandals? Will a PR government try to recover as much revenue as possible and will it try to convict the individuals involved in these scandals as well?

    Similar questions surround the fate of BN politicians who may have amassed ill-gotten gains through their government positions. Will PR go after the ill-gotten gains of the individuals in question or will it also go after the individuals in question? Is there a cut-off mark under which some cases may not be investigated?

    Here, it may be useful to establish an equivalent of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee established in South Africa after the abolishment of apartheid. In exchange for amnesty, politicians, civil servants and even businessmen who have amassed ill-gotten gains can use this platform to “confess” their past wrongdoing and return a percentage of their wealth to the taxpayer. Similar actions can be taken by individuals who want to blow the whistle on themselves and admit to past wrongdoing, not just in terms of financial gain but also in terms of other past abuses of power including granting citizenship to foreigners to allow them to vote, wrongfully jailing innocent victims, beating up public protestors, just to name a few.

    This may be a cathartic experience for the nation for past mistakes to be revealed and for the nation to move on and firmly establish itself as a democratic nation with regular alternations in power. Question is, will a PR government subject itself to the same levels of scrutiny, including admission of past mistakes among those in PR who were formerly high ranking politicians in the BN government?

    (ii) Power

    The second major challenge to a PR government is in the re-allocation of power between the federal government and the states. Right now, the PR state governments in Kelantan, Kedah, Penang and Selangor say that their hands are tied because of the lack of funding and co-operation from the federal government on key issues including the consolidation of water assets and pricing, the consolidation of wage management, the responsibility for public transportation and road maintenance and the proper allocation of federal funding including the oil royalties paid to Kelantan, Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak.

    With a PR government at the federal level, such excuses will no longer be valid. A PR federal government will have to pick the low hanging fruit in terms of distributing power and funds back to the states in areas which are clearly defined to be under state jurisdiction. This may not be as easy as it sounds. Even increasing the oil royalty from 5 per cent to 20 per cent will entail a redistribution of as much as RM10 billion from the federal government to the states. Hard decisions will have to be made with regard to where some of these cuts have to be made at the federal level.

    Other issues concerning decentralisation of power from the federal to the state governments, a cornerstone of PR’s promises both in the Buku Jingga (Orange Book) and more recently in the Tawaran Jingga (Orange Offer), will require achieving an internal consensus within PR. The DAP will want to push for the restoration of local council elections, something which PAS and PKR seem lukewarm about. PAS will want to push for the implementation of hudud, especially in the states which it controls, especially Kelantan. Needless to say, the DAP will object to this vehemently.

    A PR federal government would also be under some pressure to apply some of these decentralisation measures consistently among the states, including those governed by the BN. For example, it would be inconsistent for the BN to give an increased share of oil royalties to Kelantan but not to the (likely) BN governed states of Terengganu, Sarawak and Sabah. Nor would it be consistent for PR to promise to pass this money back to these states on the condition that voters in these states vote in PR state governments.

    It actually makes long-term sense for a PR federal government to decentralise as much as is economically and politically plausible as an insurance policy in the likelihood that it loses control of the federal government in the future. Having greater democracy and decentralised power means that the states and local authorities which PR still controls can have more independence and, hopefully, be more effective as well.

    (iii) Plans

    While one can question their effectiveness, there is less doubt that Prime Minister Najib Razak has put in place a comprehensive transformation plans to address various shortcomings in the political, economic and social arenas. Most politically aware Malaysians are already familiar with the alphabet soup which is associated with Najib’s transformation programmes — 1 Malaysia, ETP, GTP, NEM, PTP — even if they are unsure about the achievements of these programmes.

    PR is not likely to follow in Najib’s footsteps in designing a similar “transformation” programme but it will still need to come up with concrete and well thought out plans of its own in order to shape the country’s political, economic and social agenda according to the vision and philosophy of PR and its leaders.

    PR is better placed in some areas to deliver substantive positive change compared to the BN. It would be relatively easy for PR to deliver on promises of reform in terms of political rights and civil liberties by abolishing any laws which allow for detention without trial such as the Security Offences Special Measures Act (SOSMA), abolish the need to have a permit to print a newspaper and to allow political parties to have a presence in university campuses, just to name a few. But PR would also have to resist the temptation of using their power in order to intimidate and threaten the mainstream media newspapers and television which are owned or closely associated with BN parties. Similarly, it also needs to resist the temptation of using RTM1 and 2 as a government mouthpiece.

    PR can also deliver significant institutional reform such as making the Election Commission (EC) and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) independent and allowing them to carry out their jobs without political interference. It would also have to tackle the tricky task of reforming the police force including finding new roles for existing Special Branch officers, assuming that their services will no longer be needed or needed less often. It is also needs to strengthen the civil service’s resolve to be professional and accountable rather than to force it to change its political allegiance from BN to PR.

    In terms of the economy, PR will have to find new sources of economic growth as well as enhance current sources of growth. Some of this can be realised by the freeing up of certain monopolies so that competitive forces can be released in currently protected sectors. Other initiatives require a longer time period to come to fruition such as increasing the innovation and R&D capacity in the country. One way in which this process can be expedited is to tap on the large Malaysian disapora, some of whom may be interested to come back and invest their time, expertise and money under a new non-BN federal government.

    One of the biggest policy areas for PR to tackle would be in education since this is something which almost all Malaysians care about and where there is a widespread consensus that something drastic needs to be done in order to arrest the decline in the standard of public education in the country. PR has said that it would respect the rights of vernacular (Mandarin and Tamil) and religious schools to flourish in the country. It will have its hands full in taking on the civil service as well as some within the PR who do not want to strengthen vernacular and religious education, especially in allowing more Chinese primary and independent secondary schools to be established.

    These are only a few of the key policy questions which PR has to address if it comes to power at the federal level. The list can easily be longer. PR’s challenge is to design a strategic plan or plans in order to fulfil a set of political, economic and social goals.

    (iv) Priorities

    Not all of the plans outlined in Part (iii) can be fulfilled in a short period of time. Some may even take more than one term to deliver the desired results. PR does not have the luxury of taking its time to deliver once it is in control of the federal government. It needs to prioritise its various objectives so that some immediate quick wins can be given the proper focus. Some of PR’s promises in its first 100 days in government have already been outlined in the Buku Jingga such as setting up an RCI on the problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah, providing free wifi to the rural areas in the country and abolishing certain corporate subsidies such as the gas subsidy to the independent power producers (IPPs). These deliverables may have to be adjusted if a PR federal government realises that some of the initiatives may take longer than 100 days to fulfil.

    It is important for PR to show it can deliver concrete results and initiatives early in its administration so that it can build momentum for other initiatives later on. Without clear, focused priorities, PR may fall into the trap of wanting to do too much but failing to deliver anything significant in a timely manner.

    (v) Procedures

    Finally, PR will have to come up with certain procedures, both formal and informal, for dealing with disagreements between the PR component parties on key policy issues. I have already pointed out that local government elections and hudud are two potential flashpoints within the PR. There is no doubt that other controversial disagreements will emerge from within the PR coalition. Unlike in the BN, where Umno can dominate and control major policy directions, the parties within the PR coalition are much more equal in terms of stature and also control of Parliament and state seats. Even though the prime minister from PR, most likely Anwar Ibrahim, will yield considerable power, it would be difficult for him to ride roughshod over his component party members in the same way as Dr Mahathir Mohamad within the BN context.

    The PR supreme council needs to be strengthened and proper procedures identified in order to solve conflicts emerging from within PR on issues of national and sub-national importance.

    Conclusion

    This article has barely scratched the surface of what a PR government may look like and the main challenges which it will face as a new ruling coalition. But hopefully, it has been helpful in outlining the major issues of contention and providing some guidelines as to how these challenges may be addresses so that PR can effectively deliver positive change to the country. — New Mandala

    * Ong Kian Ming holds a PhD in political science from Duke University. He is the project director of the Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (Merap), political analyst and a lecturer at the University College Sedaya International (UCSI). 

    This article was published by The Malaysian Insider and Malaysiakini.

  • Non-resident voters: EC economises with ‘truth’

    I have been asked many questions with regard to the 3.1 million potential non-resident voters which I first highlighted at a press conference together with members of the Bersih steering committee on April 23. I subsequently wrote about this issue in greater detail here.

    In response to these questions, I would like to make the following points:

    1. That not all 3.1 million of these potential non-resident voters are dubious voters.

    2. There are many reasons why voters are not registered in the same constituency indicated by their IC address.

    3. That one of the reasons is because of politicians registering their supporters in their respective constituencies even though these voters do not and have never lived in these constituencies.

    4. A manifestation of this practice is the presence of addresses with many voters registered in them or voters registered without house numbers.

    5. That the Election Commission (EC) has decided to move to a new registration system where a new/transferred voter could only be registered in the constituency indicated by his/her IC address.

    6. That the EC still refuses to acknowledge the problem of non-resident voters as well as the problem of many non-resident voters being registered in the same address.

    7. The example of the locality where Mimos (Malaysian Institute of Microelectronic Systems) ‘misinterpreted’ the electoral data has a large number of newly-registered Kod 71 voters.

    8. It is difficult for politicians and the EC to locate voters without house numbers, especially in the urban areas.

    Not all are dubious voters but…

    I have never said that all these 3.1 million potential non-resident voters are dubious voters.

    NONEWhat I wanted to highlight was that there were 3.1 million voters in Peninsular Malaysia whose IC address did not correspond with their voting constituency and that these voters were identified in a National Registration Department (JPN in BM) project called ‘Projek SPR’.

    For those who doubt that I have access to this data, please see screenshots of the 11 CDs representing data for each state (right).

    There are many reasons to explain these potential non-resident voters. Table 1 lists three possible reasons according to three categories.

    This categorisation is not exhaustive since there are many other permutations and combinations which can be added. The key here is to identify the voters who can be classified as non-resident voters.

    NONE

    Take a case under Category 1. A voter’s hometown is in Ijok, Kuala Selangor. He then moves to Section 16 under the Petaling Jaya Selatan parliamentary constituency in Selangor. He registers as a voter here but his IC address still remains in Ijok. This voter is a resident voter.

    This is the example which describes Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim whose IC address is in Ijok but whose voting constituency was in Petaling Jaya Selatan (now transferred to Lembah Pantai after the EC’s boundary correction exercise).

    Take a case under Category 2. A voter’s hometown is in Kota Bharu, Kelantan. He registers as a voter in the Kota Bharu parliamentary seat. He then moves to Bangi, Selangor. He changes his IC address to Bangi. But he maintains his voting constituency in his hometown seat of Kota Bharu. This voter is a resident voter.

    Voters in categories 1 and 2 are considered resident voters because they were residents in their respective constituencies at the time of their registration as voters. Even if they have subsequently moved away from these constituencies, they are still considered as resident voters as per Article 119 of the Federal Constitution.

    Please note that voters who have moved from one place to another but still maintains their IC address and voting constituency in their hometowns are not included among the 3.1 million non-resident voters identified by JPN. For example, the ‘Project SPR’ databases do not include the many Kelantanese who have moved to the Bangi area but whose IC address and voting constituencies are still in Kelantan.

    Hence, it would be wrong, as this blogger has done, to say that we should not be concerned about this 3.1 million voters because there were still 1.1 million Malaysians who were still holding on to their old Malaysian ICs in 2005 or the fact that there were 3.6 million intra-state migrants according to the 2000 population.

    NONEThe 1.1 million Malaysians who still had old ICs in 2005 would not have been included among the 3.1 million if their IC address was the same their voting constituency.

    Just because one upgrades from the old IC to a new IC does not mean that the person’s IC address would have changed. In addition, some of the 3.6 million intra-state migrants in 2000 would have maintained their voting constituency according to their IC address. Just because they have moved, does not mean that they would have changed their voting constituency or their IC address.

    Inter- and intra-state migration certainly increases the complexity in defining and understanding the problem of non-resident and resident voters and I appreciate the efforts of this blogger for pointing it out.

    However, it is voters in category 3 which I am most concerned about since these are non-resident voters who have never lived in the constituencies they were registered in 2002 when the Project SPR exercise was completed. Those in category 3 are those which I would define as dubious voters.

    If it wasn’t broke, why fix it?

    It was widely acknowledge that political parties and politicians on both sides of the political divide were responsible for registering supporters in their own constituencies so as to boost their chances of retaining or winning these constituencies even though these voters did not live in these constituencies.

    Standards of ‘proving’ that a voter who wanted to register in a particular constituency actually lived in that constituency were rather lax. Some sort of bill (telephone, electricity) of a person’s name and address was all that was required.

    NONEIn many cases, even this requirement was waived. There are also many voters who were allowed to register without indicating their house number even though they were registered in urban areas.

    The EC themselves tacitly acknowledged this problem when it decided to move to a new registration system where a voter could only be registered at constituency indicated by his or her IC address. After all, if the previous system was working fine, why change the registration criteria in 2002?

    The results of ‘Projek SPR’ which was carried out by JPN prior to the change of the registration system in 2002 validated these concerns since it revealed that as many as 37% (3.1 million out of 8.2 million) voters in Peninsular Malaysia at that time had IC addresses that was different from the voting constituencies.

    Even if a third of these voters were dubious voters, i.e. those in Category 3 in Table 1 above, it would mean that one million voters were registered in constituencies which they have never lived in.

    Without a further audit, we simply do not know the percentage of voters according to the different categories listed in Table 1. To my knowledge, the EC has never tried to find out, even after being given this data by the JPN back in 2002.

    Many voters in one address

    A clear manifestation of the problem of non-resident voters is the presence of house addresses with many registered voters since politicians – before 2002, when there was less detailed scrutiny on the electoral roll – would regularly register their supporters in a limited number of addresses in their respective constituencies.

    As a result some of these houses have Malay, Chinese and Indian registered voters who in all likelihood do not even know of each other’s existence. In some cases, some of these voters were not even allocated a house number but was registered using a street name.

    What is both sad and troubling is the fact that the EC has never done anything, at least publicly, to find out the extent of this problem, much less do something about it. It is not rocket science.

    Anyone armed with even a rudimentary command of Excel could go through an electoral roll and highlight houses with more than X number of voters registered in them.

    Mimos was asked to identify possible problems in the electoral roll as part of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform. Their analysis revealed 324 addresses with more than 100 voters and another 938 addresses with between 51 to 100 addresses.

    The PSC recommended that the EC publishes the names of all of the voters in these addresses so that these voters can step forward to verify their identity and for the EC to report back, in 45 days, to a specially set up parliamentary select committee which will oversee the cleaning up of the electoral roll.

    NONEWhat was the EC’s response? In a booklet entitled ‘The Truth Behind the Accusations and Lies towards the Election Commission’ (henceforth referred to as ‘The Truth’), under Allegation 6, the EC responded by saying that Mimos “had misunderstood the large number of electors in a locality, so as to mean that all the electors in that locality are registered under one address”.

    The example given by the EC was the locality of Kampung Melayu Majidee in the parliament seat of Johor Bahru, which was assumed to have just one address with more than 50 voters. The EC said that “In reality, this locality has tens of complete addresses, as well as incomplete addresses that have all been combined to form a locality.”

    What is stated by the EC is technically correct. When examining in Quarter 3 (Q3) 2011 electoral roll, I found 96 names in the locality named “Kg Melayu Majidee” (Locality Code: 1604407014). 74 of these voters had complete addresses, 22 others did not.

    In Table 2, I show 30 voters from this locality with complete house addresses, including house numbers.

    NONE

    Foreigners in the house?

    At the same time, I also found a list of 22 names in the same locality which did not have any house numbers in the same locality. (See Table 3 below)

    NONE

    A few points of concern immediately jumps out when comparing Tables 2 and 3.

    Firstly, there are indeed many identifiable roads in this particular locality, according to Table 2. If this area is relatively developed and it should be since it is in the Johor Bahru constituency, then one wonders why is it that there are no roads as well as house numbers attached to the voters in Table 3.

    Secondly, the voters without any house numbers in Table 3 were all registered in May and June 2011. One would have assumed that their ICs would give the full address of these voters given that this place is in the urbanised seat of Johor Bahru.

    Thirdly, and more disconcerting, all of the voters in Table 3 have Kod 71 in their ICs indicating that they were not born in Malaysia. (Looking at their names, it is likely that they are of Indonesian ‘heritage’ e.g. Nur’asiyah). By contrast, note that none of the voters in Table 2 have Kod 71 in their ICs.

    Having aroused my suspicion, I then proceeded to examine newly-registered voters for this specific locality for Q4 2011 and Q1 2012. The results are show below in Table 4 and 5.

    NONE

    According to Table 4 (above), there a total of 32 voters were in the Q4 2011 electoral roll update in this locality. Of these 32 voters, 30 were newly-registered voters and all of them do not have house addresses and all of them have Kod 71 in their ICs.

    The only voter with a house address (No 24) was taken off this electoral roll because she has moved to another constituency. The only non-Kod 71 voter added to the electoral roll is not a newly-registered voter but who move to this voting constituency.

    NONE

    According to Table 5 (above), there were six newly-registered voters in this locality in the Q1 2012 electoral roll update. Two voters, both of whom are not Kod 71 voters, have house numbers. The other four voters, who are Kod 71 voters, all do not have house addresses.

    To recap, what we have in this locality, which was highlighted in the EC’s recent booklet to tell “the truth”, is a situation, as for Q1 2012, where of the 134 registered voters in this locality, 74 voters have complete addresses (house numbers and street names), none of whom are Kod 71 voters, while the remaining 57 voters do not have house numbers or even street names and all except one are Kod 71 voters who have been newly registered in the past one year.

    NONE

    The EC, rather than giving reasons on why Mimos had misinterpreted the electoral roll data, should be extremely concerned that Mimos found more than 50 names in this locality without house addresses in an urban locality.

    What is more, they should have done exactly what I did here, which was to examine the voters who did not have house numbers and would have found that all of them were recently registered and with Kod 71 in their ICs.

    This should have prompted them to do a serious audit in this area to determine if the ICs of these voters have been legitimately issued and why so many of them are staying in one locality without any house number. Instead, the EC choose to look the other way by giving excuses.

    This is just one locality. What about the other 1,261 localities with more than 50 registered voters? What would we find if the EC reveals what these localities are?

    Locating voters without house numbers

    The EC may be right in saying that there are voters who live in kampongs who do not have house addresses. But there are probably as many voters who live in semi-urban and urban areas where there are house numbers for each locality or street, but whose details do not show any house numbers.

    What this means it is very difficult for a candidate who is running for office or an incumbent MP or Adun (state assemblyperson) to identify these voters to ascertain if they are indeed resident voters (or were resident voters).

    For example, 22 voters from a locality in urban Petaling Jaya Utara (Locality Name: Jalan 1 Kg Bahru, Sg Way (Jalan 1-25), Locality Code: 1063510001) are shown in Table 6 below. All of them do not have house numbers and all of them were registered before 2002.

    Malays, Chinese and Indians are all represented in this list of voters. Without the house numbers, how is one supposed to locate these voters?

    If someone wants to object to the inclusion of some of these voters into the electoral roll during the quarterly updates (for newly-registered voters without house addresses), how will the EC send letters to these voters so that they can turn up to during the verification hearing?

    These technical but important questions were not answered by the EC in their ‘truth’ booklet.

    NONE

    Tip of the iceberg

    To recap, I started this article by pointing out that not all of the 3.1 million potential non-resident voters are dubious voters. Under the previous voter registration, it was relatively easy to register non-resident as voters and that even if one-third of these 3.1 million voters are non-resident, it would constitute one million voters.

    One manifestation of non-resident voters can be found in houses with many registered voters (10 is usually a good cut-off point) or urban and semi-urban localities with many voters without house addresses.

    The EC thought that this problem could be reduced by forcing everyone to register under their IC address. This change was introduced in 2002. But even after this change, the ‘legacy’ issue of non-resident voters has not been resolved as seen by the voters without house addresses in one locality in Petaling Jaya Utara in Table 6.

    More worryingly, in the locality which the EC used as an example of how Mimos ‘misinterpreted’ the electoral roll data, 55 out of 57 newly registered voters since May 2011 did not have house addresses and 54 out of these 55 voters had the Kod 71 in their IC numbers, indicating that they were not born in Malaysia.

    This may just be the tip of the iceberg. If the EC is willing to release the names of the other 1,261 localities with more than 50 registered voters, my team at the Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (Merap) are more than willing to analyse these localities and present the results for public consumption.


    ONG KIAN MING is the project director of the Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (Merap) and a lecturer and political analyst at UCSI University.

    This article was published by Malaysiakini.

  • EC has not been honest in its rebuttals

    Bersih 3.0 may have been a success in terms of its ability to attract more than 100,000 Malaysians from all walks of life to come out in support of clean and fair elections but the hard work of ensuring that this aspiration is translated into reality needs to continue.

    All the more so when the Election Commission continues to ignore the many problems highlighted by the Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (Merap) with regard to the electoral roll.

    The EC has recently published a booklet with 12 points of rebuttal against allegations that the electoral roll is full of problematic registrations and that the EC has been complicit in not cleaning up the electoral roll.

    In this article, I want to highlight two of the rebuttals to illustrate that the EC has not been honest in its responses which reflects its inconsistent policies in managing the electoral roll and electoral boundaries.

    EC’s boundary ‘correction’ exercise

    One of the EC’s rebuttals is that it has not redrawn any electoral boundaries since such an exercise would require parliamentary approval. What the EC has been doing instead, is to correct previous errors of putting voters in certain localities in the wrong parliamentary and state constituency.

    This was done after the introduction of a new Electoral Geographic Information System (Egis) in 2004. The EC used the power given to the chief registrar under the Section 25(3) of the Elections (Regulation of Electors) Regulations 2002 where it is state that:

    “Where an error has resulted in any person being registered as an elector of a registration area which is not a registration area in respect of which that person should have been registered, the Chief Registrar may enter that person’s name in the principal electoral roll or the supplementary electoral roll for the appropriate registration area.”

    NONEThis was the reason given for why Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim’s voting area was shifted from Petaling Jaya Selatan (P105) to Lembah Pantai (P121) – Section 16/2 is part of Wilayah Persekutuan rather than Petaling Jaya.

    The ‘correction of boundaries’ according to the EC has affected 19,342 voters in the whole country.

    I have three concerns with regard to the EC’s rebuttal on this point.

    Firstly, if the Egis system was introduced in 2004 after the 2003 delimitation exercise, why were these corrections not done until long after the 2008 general elections?

    The following is the EC’s statement in Bahasa Malaysia with regard to the introduction of the Egis system:

    “SPR menyedari kedudukan beberapa lokaliti yang tersalah letak di dalam bahagian pilihan raya hanya selepas Sistem Egis (Electoral Geographical Information System) digunapakai dalam tahun 2004.”

    And again, when referring to the correction to the Section 16/2 locality and shifting it from PJ Selatan to Lembah Pantai:

    “Apabila sistem Egis (Electoral Geographical Information System) dilaksanakan pada tahun 2004, SPR mula menyedari kesilapan penentuan kedudukan lokaliti berkenaan.”

    The fact that the EC only choose to make these boundary ‘corrections’ more than four years (after the 2008 general election) after the introduction of Egis is very troubling and concerning.

    Affected voters not informed

    Secondly, what is more troubling is the fact that the EC did not notify the 19,342 voters which were affected by this exercise. They only wrote to the political areas in the areas which were affected.

    Again, this raises concerns in regard to the intent of the EC to keep voters informed about their respective voting constituencies. Is it the responsibility of the politicians or is it the responsibility of the EC to keep voters informed of the changes made?

    Most reasonable people would argue that the EC has the obligation to inform voters when they have been shifted from one voting constituency to another since this means that their political representative at the state (for the non-Federal Territories voters) and at the parliamentary levels have been changed.

    The EC has since stated that it would send letters to each of these voters to inform them of these changes before the next general election. We hope that these letters will be sent in a timely fashion and that all of these affected voters will be duly notified.

    Thirdly, the EC has not been consistent and transparent in this boundary ‘correction’ exercise.

    When they informed political representatives that localities have been shifted in and/or out of their respective constituencies, they failed to provide updated maps of the newly configured constituencies showing exactly where the new localities are placed.

    This lack of transparency points to the possibility that the EC has not been transparent in terms of the standards used for these boundary ‘correction’ exercises.

    I shall firstly illustrate one case involving the movement of localities which does not make sense according to pre-existing electoral boundaries in the state seats of Seri Setia (Kelana Jaya parliament) and Kota Damansara (Subang).

    Map 1 below highlights one of the areas affected by this boundary ‘correction’ exercise in the state seat of Seri Setia (N32).

    NONE

    Map 2 below highlights the localities which have been transferred from Seri Setia to Kota Damansara (N39).

    NONE

    The electoral boundary of Seri Setia is demarcated by the major highways highlighted in red. This is the pre-existing boundary which was used in the 2004 and 2008 general elections.

    What is perplexing is that Saujana Resort, which lies on the southern side of the old Subang airport road (highlighted in red at the top of the map) has now been shifted to Kota Damansara, which lies on the northern side of the old Subang airport road.

    I fail to see why Egis would show that this locality should be shifted to another constituency when it clearly falls within the boundary of the Seri Setia state seat.

    What is also perplexing is that two localities that are to the east of the Jalan Monfort highway boundary (highlighted in red at the left of the map) – Pusat Bekalan Polis Shah Alam and Pangsapuri Melewar – have also been shifted to Kota Damansara.

    If the EC had shifted these two localities to Kota Anggerik (N40), it could have at least been more defensible. It does not make sense for these two localities to be moved up to Kota Damansara when the Taman Glenmarie locality, which is closer to the Kota Damansara seat, remains in Seri Setia.

    This is just one example of how the boundary ‘correction’ exercise done by the EC does not seem to be using consistent and transparent standards which includes using natural boundaries like rivers and other man-made boundaries such as major roads to demarcate constituencies.

    Another example which shows the EC inconsistency in adopting a consistent set of standards in its boundary ‘correction’ exercise is the inclusion of a locality in Bukit Jalil, which should be under the Bandar Tun Razak parliamentary seat, not the Lembah Pantai parliamentary seat.

    A new locality called POLIS (Pusat Tahanan Sementara Bukit Jalil – Kod Lokaliti: 1210017701) was created in 2011. As its name indicates, this police holding facility is located in Bukit Jalil.

    But the almost 500 police postal voters in this locality were allocated to the Lembah Pantai parliamentary constituency, a marginal constituency which is likely to be contested by Federal Territories Minister Raja Nong Chik.

    The EC would be hard pressed to explain why its boundary ‘correction’ exercise failed to put this locality into the Bandar Tun Razak parliamentary constituency, especially since it falls outside the current boundaries of the Lembah Paintai parliamentary seat.

    To ensure that this boundary ‘correction’ exercise is not a stealth delimitation exercise, the EC should publish maps of the areas affected indicating clearly the localities which have been shifted as well as why they have been shifted.

    42,051 doubtful voters in electoral roll

    After initially promising to erase 42,051 voters whose information and status was not clear according to the National Registration Department (NRD) records, the EC retracted on this and said that they had no right to remove these names even though Section 25 2(g) of the Elections (Regulation of Electors) Regulations 2002 states that the chief registrar may “strik(e) out the name of any person who, in the opinion of the Chief Registrar, is not entitled, for any reason, to remain or be in the principal electoral roll or the supplementary roll”.

    This figure was later revised downwards by 1,248 voters to 40,803 when these names publicly displayed and the NRD was able to update their records accordingly.

    However, the EC has failed to account for why 14,577 names were deleted in the Quarter 2 2011 because their records were not active in NRD – “rekod tidak aktif di JPN (NRD)”. Not that these names were not deleted because the voters in question had died – that figure was reported in a separate category.

    Hence, if in one quarter, the names of almost 15,000 voters were deleted because their NRD records were not active, why was it the case that over 42,000 voters whose status was not identifiable by the NRD in another quarter not dealt with in the same manner?

    Again, this calls into question the EC’s consistency in applying the same standards for the same cases.

    What is also disconcerting is the fact that a very high percentage of the voters among the 42,051 not deleted as well as the 14,577 deleted voters were very old voters. For example, 13,183 or 90.4 percent of the 14,577 deleted voters were over the age of 70. Similarly, 33,421 or 79.5 percent of the 42,051 not deleted voters were above the age of 70.

    It also raises questions about the utility of publicly displaying these records when most of the voters among the 42,051 are probably not very mobile and would not be able to ‘verify’ the fact that they are still very much alive. And if they are dead and do not have family who happen upon this list, then there is no way that their names can be removed from the electoral roll.

    It would be much more effective for the EC to form investigative teams, together with NRD, to try to track down as many of these voters as possible instead of just relying on public displays and relying on politicians and political parties to track down these voters.

    As long as the EC is not pro-active in ‘going to the ground’, the list of ‘dubious’ voters, including those who are aged over 100 years old, will continue to populate the electoral roll. The identity of these voters can easily be used by irresponsible parties to cast a vote.


    Dr ONG KIAN MING is project director of the Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (Merap).

    This article was published by Malaysiakini.

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