• 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.

  • Electoral roll: What else is the EC hiding?

    In two previous articles, I highlighted 10 problems associated with the electoral roll as part of the preliminary findings of the Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (Merap), a research effort to identify and understand problems with the existing electoral roll.

    In this article, I want to highlight further problems involving far more voters than those identified in the previous two articles. [see Part 1 Part 2]

    Firstly, approximately 3.1 million voters were identified as potential non-resident voters by the National Registration Department (NRD) in 2002. This data was given by NRD to the Election Commission (EC) but no action was taken by the EC to assess the magnitude of this problem and to identify ways to rectify it.

    Secondly, using the EC’s own data which lists the nationality or ‘bangsa’ of each voter, approximately 65,000 voters were identified as having foreign nationalities. Of these, close to 90 percent or 58,000 had IC numbers which indicate that they were born in Malaysia.

    In addition, approximately 49,000 of these voters came from one state alone – Sabah – which has a well-documented history where ICs were given to illegal immigrants in order to allow them to register as voters.

    Thirdly, by comparing the electoral rolls in Quarter 4 (Q4) 2010 and Quarter 3 (Q3) 2011 and by cross-checking them with the quarterly updates in the first to third quarters in 2011, it was found that there were 106,743 voters removed from the electoral roll without public display and another 6,762 voters added to the electoral roll during the same period, also without public display.

    Fourthly, important information provided by the EC in the Q1 to Q3 2011 quarterly roll updates such as the reasons for the deletion of names from the electoral roll were omitted in the Q4 2011 quarterly roll. This omission immediately raises concerns about the possibility of concealing important information by the EC in order to prevent detailed analysis from being conducted.

    Adding the figures which I found from the initial preliminary analysis to the figures highlighted in this article, I have identified approximately 3.4 million cases where further investigation needs to be conducted by the EC in order to verify the legitimacy of these voters because this is the pool of problematic registrations that currently tars the integrity and accuracy of the electoral roll.

    1) 3.1 million potential non-resident voters

    In 2002, the information systems section of the NRD (Bahagian Perkhidmatan Sistem Maklumat) conducted an exercise called Projek SPR where the IC addresses of all voters in Peninsular Malaysia were compared with the voting constituencies of these voters.

    NONEThe main purpose behind this project was to identify all the voters whose IC addresses did not correspond to the constituencies that these voters were registered in.

    For example, if a person’s IC address was somewhere in Bukit Gasing in Petaling Jaya, which is located in the PJ Selatan parliamentary constituency but if this person is registered as a voter in the Shah Alam parliamentary constituency, then this voter would be classified as a potential non-resident voter (pengundi luar kawasan).

    A total of 3,082,482 million voters were identified as potential non-resident voters, meaning that their IC addresses did not correspond with their voting constituencies. This constituted 37 perrcent of the then 8.3 million voters in Peninsular Malaysia in 2002.

    NONEOf course, not all of these 3.1 million voters are non-resident voters. For example, a person’s IC address may be that of his parent’s home in Bukit Gasing, but he may be currently residing in a house in Shah Alam and registered as a voter in that constituency.

    Article 119 (1) of the Federal Constitution states that “Every citizen who (a) has attained the age of twenty-one years on the qualifying date; and (b) is resident in a constituency on such qualifying date or, if not so resident, is an absent voter, is entitled to vote in that constituency in any election to the House of Representatives or the Legislative Assembly…”

    This means that only those who are residents in a particular constituency when they register as voters are qualified to vote in that particular constituency.

    The presence of such a large number of voters whose IC addresses do not correspond with their voting constituencies clearly shows that the problem of non-resident voters is a serious one, even if only a small proportion of these 3.1 million voters were not residents in these constituencies at the time of their registration.

    The possibility of these voters not being resident voters is further enhanced when one considers the lax standards required before 2002 in order to ‘qualify’ as a resident of a constituency. All someone needed to do prior to 2002 was to show some sort of proof that he was a resident in a particular area – an electricity or phone bill for example.

    A number of politicians whom I interviewed on an informal basis told me that the requirement for this proof of residency was often waived. This meant that many strategic politicians could pad their respective constituencies with supporters, friends and family, even though they did not live in that constituency.

    One manifestation of this voter padding exercise is the presence of houses with a large number of registered voters.

    According to analysis done by Mimos (Malaysian Institute Of Microelectronic Systems), as instructed by the parliamentary select committee on Electoral Reform, 938 houses with between 51 and 100 registered voters each and 523 houses with more than 100 registered voters were identified in the most recent electoral roll.

    If we include the 2,071 houses with between 21 and 50 registered voters each and the 3,949 houses with between 11 and 20 registered voters, there are approximately 260,000 voters who are registered in houses with 11 or more registered voters.

    And this excludes localities with no house addresses (kampung or longhouses, for example). This is a legacy system left behind by the pre-2002 electoral roll where non-resident voters were registered in addresses that they did not live in.

    Perhaps the most worrying aspect of this NRD analysis is that the EC, as far as we know, made no effort to identify the magnitude of this problem – how many of these voters were actually non-resident voters – nor did the EC seem to take any measure in order to rectify this problem in the pre-2002 electoral roll.

    2) 65,000 ‘foreigners’ in the electoral roll

    The EC collects comprehensive data on the ‘bangsa’ or nationality of individual voters. This data is not distributed to political parties, not officially at least, but contains valuable information that can be used to identify problematic registrations.

    Table 2 below lists the nationalities which I classified as ‘foreign’. I then extracted all the voters from the Q3 2011 electoral roll which were categorised as belonging to either one of these nationalities or ‘bangsa’.

    NONE

    I identified approximately 65,000 ‘foreigners’ on the Q3 2011 electoral roll using this list of ‘foreign’ nationalities. Out of these 65,000 voters, I found that approximately 58,000 or 90 percent had IC numbers which indicated that they were born in one of the states in Malaysia.

    This was quite unexpected, since I presumed that most of these foreigners would have IC numbers which would indicate that they were born outside Malaysia rather than in Malaysia.

    After all, if we met 10 random ‘Italians’ who are Malaysian citizens, wouldn’t we expect most of them to be born outside Malaysia and subsequently became naturalised Malaysian citizens? Instead, we find the opposite phenomenon, whereby a majority of these foreign voters are born in Malaysia instead.

    More worrying is the fact that approximately 49,000 voters out of 65,000 are foreign voters, or 75 percent, and they are in Sabah, where cases of illegal immigrants being given Malaysian ICs has been well-documented.

    Out of these 49,000 foreigners in Sabah, almost 48,000 or 97 percent are ‘Malaysian born’.

    Table 3 below shows the distribution of these 65,000 foreigners by state and the number and percentage of these voters with IC numbers that indicate that they were born in Malaysia.

    NONE

    Armed with this kind of information, the EC can easily do an audit of these foreign voters in Sabah, perhaps in cooperation with NRD, to verify if their identities are indeed legitimate and that they are resident voters. As it is, the presence of these voters and the high percentage of them who are Malaysian-born certainly raise serious concerns.

    3) Mysterious deletions and additions

    In every quarterly update of the electoral roll (Rang Daftar Pemilih Tambahan, or RDPT), the names of those who are newly registered voters, those who have changed their addresses and those whose names have been deleted from the electoral roll in a constituency have to be publicly displayed in a location within that constituency, usually in a government building.

    The number of voters who have been added and deleted from the gazetted electoral roll before and after this public display and after the possible objections to the inclusion and the exclusion of some names must add up.

    For example, if the gazetted roll had 10,000 voters before the quarterly update, during which 1,000 voters were added and 500 voters were deleted, the gazetted roll after public display should contain 10,500 voters.

    My team of researchers compared the number of voters in the Q4 2010 with the Q3 2011 electoral roll and cross checked the numbers with the Q1, Q2 and Q3 2011 electoral roll updates. What we found was that 106,743 voters in the Q4 2010 electoral roll no longer appeared in the Q3 2011 electoral roll and also did not appear in the Q1 to Q3 2011 electoral updates as deleted voters.

    This means that they were deleted from the electoral roll without public display. In addition, we found that 6,762 new voters were found in the Q3 2011 electoral roll but these new voters did not appear in any of the quarterly updates in 2011, meaning that these voters were added without public display!

    The presence of such a high number of cases of additions and deletions without public display raises doubts as to whether these voters were removed or added under suspicious circumstances. It also raises questions about the number of voters that were removed/added without public display in the quarters prior to 2011.

    4) Information on deletion of voters missing

    The data given by the EC to the political parties for the Q1 to Q3 2011 quarterly updates had detailed information with regard to the reasons as to why a voter was deleted from the electoral roll.

    These reasons include: death, change of address, having joined the police or army, losing one’s citizenship, losing the status of being a postal voter and doubtful identities, just to name a few.

    Tables 4 to 6 below show the number of voters added and deleted and the reasons for these deletions for the Q1 to Q3 2011 electoral roll updates.

    NONE

    NONE

    NONE

     

    But all of a sudden, the reasons as to why voters were deleted from the electoral roll were no longer included in the Q4 2011 electoral roll update.

    What is more shocking is no voter was listed as being deleted as a result of death. The only data given is the number of voters who were deleted from the Q4 2011 electoral roll as a result of a change in address.

    The summary of the Q4 2011 electoral roll update are given in Table 7 below.

    NONE

    One cannot help but wonder if the EC wanted to exclude the voters who had been deleted from the electoral roll because of the intense scrutiny given to the earlier Q1 to Q3 2011 electoral roll updates.

    For example, the 42,051 voters whose identity was questionable because of their details could not be verified in the NRD database was revealed in the Q3 2011 update (highlighted in yellow in Table 6 above).

    In addition, the sudden increase in the number of deletions in Q3 2011 because of voters entering into the army/police force (highlighted in blue in Table 6 above) also may have drawn unwanted attention as to where these new army/police postal voters were being transferred to.

    In-depth audit of electoral roll needed

    The data shown in this article raises many concerns about the EC’s desire to ensure a clean, accurate and transparent electoral roll.

    The EC has clearly failed to act on important data with regard to problematic registrations that were handed over to it by NRD back in 2002 – the 3.1 million potential non-resident voters – and also data that it collected on its own – the 65,000 foreign voters in the Q3 2011 electoral roll.

    In addition, the EC seems to have concealed important data from public knowledge, such as the nationality or ‘bangsa’ of the individual voters, deleting and adding voters without public display and excluding the reasons why voters were deleted from the electoral roll.

    The EC should conduct an in-depth audit of the electoral roll, including further investigations into selected samples, and then consider various solutions to these problems, including automatic registration of all voters according to their IC addresses.

    With the presence of these problems in the electoral roll, it is clear that the EC chairman’s claim that Malaysia has world’s cleanest electoral roll is one that is not based on reality or facts.


    ONG KIAN MING holds a PhD in Political Science from Duke University. He 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.

  • ‘Dubious’ voters may decide GE13

    In the first part of this article, I highlighted five problems with the electoral roll which were not addressed in the report by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Electoral Reform.

    In this second part, I will highlight five additional problems with the electoral roll, all of which concern the highly problematic area of postal voting among army and police personnel.

    5. Postal voters who are registered using their regular ICs

    Army personnel, who are postal voters, have IC addresses beginning with T. Police personnel, who are postal voters, have IC addressing beginning with R, G and I.

    If any of these army or police voters were previously registered as voters using their civilian IC numbers, their civilian registration entries should be deleted from the electoral roll.

    NONEWhile this process may have taken place for most of these postal voters, the possibility that these voters appear twice on the electoral roll cannot be discounted. This possibility was not investigated by the PSC on Electoral Reform.

    The analysis conducted by Mimos (Malaysian Institute Of Microelectronic Systems) on behalf of the PSC was only restricted to looking for voters who were registered under the same IC number.

    Conducting this analysis requires massive amounts of computing power since the name and date of birth of each army and police postal voter has to be matched with the name and date of birth of every single entry in the electoral roll (currently numbering more than 12 million).

    Even researchers, political parties and politicians who are interested in investigating the presence of this specific problem in the electoral roll would not have the capacity and know-how to conduct this analysis.

    Table 3 below shows two examples of army voters who were also registered as voters using their civilian ICs. The civilian entries were deleted after their inclusion was referred to the Election Commission (EC).

    NONE

    This problem is not restricted to the presence of one person registering under his or her own civilian IC as well as his or her army/police IC.

    It is also possible for the IC of army or police voter to be used by his or her spouse. If this occurs, it would be much harder to detect since it would not be the same name and date of birth registered under two ICs – one army/police and the other civilian.

    If the spouse is registered twice, one using his or her own IC, and once using the civilian IC of his or her army/policy spouse, then the same name would appear twice but having to different dates of birth.

    Of course, one way to detect this is to check for the mistake in the gender indicated by the IC and the gender of the voter as indicated by the EC records.

    The screenshot below shows one such example of a wife who are registered as a voter using the IC number of the husband. The name of the voter is female as is their gender identity in the EC records but her IC number ends with an odd number which indicates that the holder of the IC is male.

    When the IC number was inputted into the MyEG (Malaysian E-Government) website, the name of the male postal voters appeared.

    After a total of 42 cases were discovered across five parliament seats in Negeri Sembilan (Seremban, Rasah, Telok Kemang, Rembau and Tampin) in Q2 (Quarter 2) of 2011, the EC was obliged to delete these names.

    NONE

    This was a very time-consuming task since the civilian IC addresses of the postal voters in question had to be ‘tracked down’ using other databases (since they are not given in the EC website). In this particular instance, the MyEG database was used because NRD (National Registration Department) no longer allows open access to their website to check for the validity of ICs.

    If one’s wife could be allowed to register using the husband’s IC which has a different name, one wonders if another person could register using any police/army postal voter’s civilian IC address?

    Again, this possibility was not addressed in the PSC report. There are currently more than 200,000 army and police postal voters. To ensure that their civilian ICs are not being used by other people, a thorough investigation needs to be conducted using the civilian IC numbers of these army/police postal voters.

    6. Spouses of police who are registered as postal voters

    According to section 2 of Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulations 2002, spouses who qualifies to be registered as postal voters are as follows:

    • Spouse of a serving member of regular naval, military or air force of Malaysia, the Commonwealth or other country;
    • Spouse of a person in the public service of the Malaysian government or any state/local authority or statutory body who is living with the serving spouse outside the boundaries of Peninsular Malaysia or Sabah or Sarawak;
    • Spouse of a person engaging in full-time studies at any university, training college or any higher educational institution outside the boundaries of Peninsular Malaysia or Sabah or Sarawak and who is living with the student at the time for application for registration as a parliamentary or state elector.

    The spouse of a member of the police force is not eligible to be registered as postal voters.

    But in our analysis of the postal voters in the June 2011, we found there were over 4,000 spouses of police voters who were registered as postal voters. Table 4 below shows a sample of spouses of police voters who are also registered as postal voters.

    NONE

    7. Spouses of army/police voters who are of the same gender

    In this category, spouses of army/police who are of the same gender – i.e. same sex marriages – were identified.

    For example, in the Setiawangsa June 2011 electoral roll, Harisah binti Ab Ghani (IC: 770130035668) was listed being married to Zaini binti Hamzah (IC: T1110543).

    When Zaini binti Hamzah’s IC was searched in the EC website, it was found that she had now become Zain bin Hamzah/Lelaki and had been shifted to the Ketereh parliamentary constituency in Kelantan.

    In the most recent check, Zain was switched back to Zaini binti Hamzah. Both Zaini and Harisah’s current voting constituency is unknown as both are listed as being ‘processed’ in the EC website.

    NONE

    NONE

    NONE

    NONE

    8. Army and police voters who are above the retirement age

    According to the army’s website, the retirement age for army personnel is 55 (maximum). For certain grades, it is lower than 55. For other civil servants, the mandatory retirement age is 58.

    A limited search of the June 2011 electoral roll revealed over 44 names of police postal voters who were above the age of 58.

    For example, Wan Rasidy bin Roni (IC: RF151304), born on Nov 19, 1900, which makes him 112 this year, is registered in Balai Polis Lumut in the Lumut parliamentary constituency.

    NONE

    9. New army and police postal voters who are above the recruitment age

    The maximum entry age for army recruits is not more than 30 years of age.

    However, an investigation into the voters who were cut from the electoral roll in Q3 2011 because they had joined the army showed more than 200 recruits who were more the maximum age of 30.

    Of equal or perhaps greater concern is that these over-aged recruits, who changed their place of voting in the 3Q of 2011, were then moved to another constituency in 4Q 2011.

    For example, Abu Talib bin Ahmad (IC: 690625086571), aged 42, was taken out of the 3Q 2011 electoral roll because he had joined the army. He was originally registered in the parliamentary district of Kuala Kangsar in Perak as a regular voter with a civilian IC address.

    According to the 4Q 2011 supplementary electoral roll, this voter, who was then registered in the parliamentary constituency of Jeli in Kelantan, was then transferred to the parliamentary constituency of Ketereh as a postal voter.

    In other words, in the space of six months, this voter, who was not only over 30 years of age, had also experienced two changes in his voting constituency from Kuala Kangsar to Jeli and from Jeli to Ketereh.

    Abu Talib bin Ahamd, aged 42, was registered as a new army postal voter in 3Q 2011.

    NONE

    Examples such as these raise the possibility that over-aged voters have been illegally ‘recruited’ as army postal voters and then quickly transferred from one electoral constituency to another in successive quarters in order to ‘mask’ the origin of these suspicious army recruits.

    In the Q4 2011 data, the EC no longer gave details of why voters were deleted from the electoral roll, which meant that voters who joined the army and police could no longer be detected. One wonders why EC altered the structure of the data released by quarter from 3Q 2011 to 4Q 2011.

    How much difference will these ‘problematic’ voters make?

    At the end of the day, one should ask the question of how many ‘problematic’ voters are in the electoral roll. The simple answer is that we really do not know.

    The cases highlighted under these 10 categories number approximately 100,000. But even within these categories, an exhaustive analysis has not been conducted because of time and manpower limitations.

    NONEThese problems could potentially be the tip of the iceberg. They do not include addresses with a large number of registered voters. They do not include the 42,000 voters whose IC numbers could not be found in the NRD database.

    They do not include other categories such as the insertion and removal of registered voters who do not appear in any of the quarterly electoral roll updates. They do not include other categories of possible electoral manipulation which have not yet been analysed or investigated such as the registration of voters in non-existent addresses.

    The inclusion of these categories could easily increase the number of problematic voters to 400,000 names or approximately 1,800 votes divided over 222 parliamentary constituencies.

    Considering that 35 seats out of 222 were won or lost by less than 2,000 votes, these problematic voters can potentially affect the balance of power in the next general election.

    History repeats itself?

    If one does not think that the presence of these problematic voters is not sufficient to swing the overall election results, I point to two past precedents where sudden increases in the number of voters in the electoral roll in states which were lost by BN which probably helped win the BN win back these states.

    The two states are Sabah after the 1990 elections and Terengganu after the 1999 elections. We see the same pattern being repeated in the state of Selangor leading up to the 13th general election.

    The number of voters in Sabah increased by 17.6% from 1990 to 1995 compared to the national average of 13.0%. This was just after PBS left the BN coalition prior to the 1990 Sabah state elections. PBS controlled the Sabah state government from 1990 to 1994.

    In the state of Terengganu, the number of voters increased by a whopping 17.7% from 1999 to 2004 compared to a national average of 7.3%. Again, it is noteworthy that the state of Terengganu had fallen to the opposition during the 1999 general elections.

    In 1999, the opposition won 28 out of 32 state seats and all eight parliamentary seats. In 2004, after this massive increase in the number of voters, the opposition won only one parliamentary and four state seats, an almost total reverse of the 1999 general election results.

    In Selangor, according to the Q4 2011 electoral roll, the number of voters has increased by over 340,000 to more than 1.9 million voters since the 2008 general election. This represents an increase of 21.8% compared to a national average of 16.3%.

    Some of these increases have occurred in areas which limited increases in the number of new housing estates and population inflows.

    NONEFor example, the seat of Hulu Selangor, a marginal parliamentary seat, saw an increase of more than 17,000 voters, or 27.1%, from the 2008 general election to the Q4 2011 electoral roll.

    Finally, for those who use the fact that the opposition managed to win a historic number of parliamentary seats and control of five state governments in the 2008 general election to say that the electoral roll is relatively clean and accurate, one could easily respond by saying that the opposition could have won even more seats if the electoral roll did not include these problematic voters.

    The upcoming 13th general election is expected to be one of the most closely contested electoral battles in our nation’s history. This increases the importance of having a relatively clean and transparent electoral roll to ensure that the results are a fair representation of the will of the electorate.

    Without a strong commitment by the authorities, including the PSC on electoral reform, EC, NRD and the government of the day to firstly identify and then address these problems, the accuracy of the electoral roll cannot be ascertained with any degree of confidence.

    Part 1: 10 problems in EC’s electoral roll


    ONG KIAN MING holds a PhD in political science from Duke University. He is currently a lecturer at UCSI University.

    This article was published by Malaysiakini and Selangor Times.

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