Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, 12th November 2012
While the Election Commission should be given some credit for taking certain steps to clean up the electoral roll, it has failed to take any concrete action against persons who have been trying to and are still trying to manipulate the electoral roll.
In a productive meeting between myself, as Project Director and DAP Election Strategist, with the Election Commission on Monday, 5th of November 2012, the Election Commission highlighted a few steps which they have taken and are taking in order to clean up the electoral roll.
One such initiative is to locate the 12 digit IC number of all police and army voters to check that these postal voters were also not registered using their 12 digit IC number. Although this verification process is long overdue, it should be welcomed as a necessary step in cleaning up the electoral roll. The decision of the EC to require all new army and police postal voter applicants, starting from 2012, to include their 12 digit IC number in their application forms, is also a positive step towards ensuring that these voters are not registered twice in the electoral roll, once using their army / policy identity card number and once using their 12 digit civilian identity card number.
MERAP has identified many past cases of such double registrations as well as cases whereby an army / postal voter has given their 12 digit civilian IC to their spouses to be registered as postal voters as well as army / postal voters who list themselves as their own spouse in order to be registered as postal voters using their 12 digit civilian IC numbers. Having the 12 digit civilian IC verification, hopefully, will prevent such cases from happening again in the future. I was also informed that the Election Commission has taken action to locate the 12 digit civilian IC numbers of all existing army / police voters. As of 15th October 2012, there remains 411 police and 613 army postal voters whose 12 digit civilian IC numbers have not been located.
However, what is disappointing is that the Election Commission refuses to take any independent action against those who have tried to manipulate the electoral roll other than removing certain Assistant Registrars. For example, the EC found 60 voters who had tried to register as army / police postal voters AND as regular voters in Quarter 2 2012. This is a clear violation of Section 3 (1) (a) of the Election Offences Act 1954 which states that a person who ‘knowingly makes any false statement on or in connection with any application to be placed on any register of electors’ is guilty of committing an election offence which carries a maximum jail sentence of 2 years or a maximum fine of RM5000 or both. These voters in question clearly knows that it is an offense to register twice, once as a postal voter and another time as a regular voter since every voter has to declare that they have not registered as a voter in another constituency in Borang A Pendaftaran Pemilih.
The presence of irresponsible parties and individuals who may have tried to manipulate the electoral roll was also detected in the Quarter 4 2011 electoral roll given to the members of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Electoral Reform. The analysis comparing the Date of Birth as well as the Date of Application for all voters found that 282,086 voters were registered before they turned 21. Indeed, there were voters whose Date of Application were before their Date of Birth!
What is more worrying is the fact that the Election Commission knows of these attempts to manipulate the electoral roll. The Election Commission admitted that they have revoked the status a number of Assistant Registrars who tried to manipulate the electoral roll by, for example, registering voters who have already died. But this is not sufficient. It must take legal action against such parties / individuals in order to send a strong signal that the Election Commission is serious about maintaining the integrity of the electoral roll and to dissuade irresponsible parties and individuals from trying to manipulate the electoral roll.
For example, the DAP in Negeri Sembilan took the initiative to lodge a police report in February 2012 to ask the Election Commission to investigate and charge the 2 Assistant Registrars whose status as ARs were revoked by the EC because they were found to have tried to register already deceased voters. But 9 months later, no action has been taken, either by the Election Commission, the police or the Attorney General’s Chambers.
As long as such irresponsible actions conducted by irresponsible parties and individuals continue to go unpunished, attempts to manipulate the electoral roll will continue. If the Election Commission is indeed serious about preserving the integrity and accuracy of the electoral roll, it must not only revoke the status of irresponsible Assistant Registrars and delete the records of dubious registrations, it must also take concrete legal action to see those responsible for these manipulation attempts charged and punished under Section 3 of the Election Offences Act 1954.
When asked, the Election Commission admitted that to date, no one has been charged under this Section of the Election Offences Act for attempting to manipulate the electoral roll.
Dr. Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist