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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

No Phantoms in this soap opera...

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Reminder: Today is Paper-Free Tuesday
When the buying stops, so will the lying...

Walski usually doesn't read the NST. He definitely has not paid money for it for at least the last 10 years. Occassionally, he does check out their online version, or better yet, the text-only online version, via RSS (that way you don't count as a pageview for their ads). But every now and again, Walski does call up the full online version - especially when one Aniza Damis has an interview published.

Image taken from NaSTy Pee, hosting by PhotobucketLike a couple of days ago on Sunday, when she and Elizabeth John co-interviewed Election Commission (EC) secretary Datuk Kamaruzaman Mohd Noor, which no thanks to the screwy office network connection, courtesy of Screamyx Streamyx, Walski only got to read last night, once at home.

Walski's taken the liberty of creating a PDF of the interview, which you can download here. It's bad enough that Walski had to patronize NaSTy Pee... doesn't mean you gotta. But seriously, give it a read...

In the interview, Datuk Kamaruzaman adamantly stated that there are no such things as phantom voters, that these so-called phantom voters are merely conjurences of the political parties, and that he's never seen zombies vote before.

And another thing mentioned that caught Walski's attention - that it's impossible for someone else to have hijacked your identity, and registered to vote on your behalf.

Well, that doesn't quite explain Rocky's own phantom experience, now does it?

To jog your memory: in September 2007, Rocky finally decided to register as a voter. To his surprise, he found out that he had been registered as a voter in a place he had never lived in ever in his life. Following this shocking revelation, Rocky of course took his case to the EC.

As the Adidas ads proclaims, Impossible is Nothing. Especially when certain parties have access to the machinery that actually runs our Government. But was it the fault of the EC, per se? More on this later.

Parts of the interview, though, really reveals the kind of SEP mentality that plagues the EC, and perhaps a good portion of our civil service.
(the blur leading the stupid, and more, in the full post)

What's SEP, you ask? Well, for non Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fans, it stands for Somebody Else's Problem.

Like this snippet of the interview, for instance.

Q: When a death is registered with the NRD, does the information go to the EC immediately?
A: If the information goes to their ALIS system, then we can tap into that information. But if they have not updated their information, then we won’t know.

Q: How regularly do they update?
A: You have to ask them.

Q: Don’t you ask them?
A: No, because that is their work. We are only the user of the service.

Now, logically, if you were tasked with ensuring that the electoral roll were complete, accurate and up-to-date, wouldn't it interest you that your data source is complete, accurate and up-to-date? Or haven't these fucks heard of the phrase Garbage In, Garbage Out?

But the EC can't be totally blamed, in Walski's opinion. If you read the interview in its entirety, you will realize that the EC operates just like any other governmental bureacracy. And if what the EC secretary says is true, they go strictly by the book. And it matters not if the data they ingest and regurgitate is good, bad or ugly. They simply ingest and regurgigate. Like any good government bureaucracy would.

The interview, however, does raise certain questions about the integrity of another government entity - the National Registration Department (NRD). Anyone remember the infamous Project M (via , subscription required - alternatively download PDF here)? Again, to refresh your memory, it was alleged that illegal immigrants in were given new identities as citizens, and of course, given new Identity Cards (the pre-MyKad version).

Hypothetical scenario: What if the NRD were infiltrated by certain political parties to create bogus identity cards solely to boost the numbers of registered voters friendly to said political parties? Illegal, of course, but certainly not beyond the realm of plausibility, right?

Hypothetical scenario part 2: Now, in assigning the identity numbers for these additional voters, it wouldn't take a genius to figure out that all you need to do is to identify the gaps in I/C numbers in the electoral rolls, which are made available to all political parties (although, as Datuk Kamaruzaman indicates in the interview, they may not be the latest versions). You would then have access to identity numbers of those who have not registered as voters. The infiltrators within the NRD can then produce fake IDs with existing numbers, but perhaps with different addresses than the actual owner of said ID numbers. EC gets voter registration data validated against the NRD records, and... Viola! Phantom Voters.

Impossible, therefore, is nothing.

Now, the EC certainly does get a lot of flak, perhaps for things they have no control over. But if one dumbass blogger like Walski could have conjured up this probably scenario, what more political parties with lots of resources at their disposal?

Think about it... Possible?

Walski leaves you with this conversation, taken from Rocky's Bru, relating Rocky's conversation with representatives of the EC, after he discovered he'd been phantomized.

Rocky: When was I registered?
EC: 1999.

Rocky: How was I registered?
EC: Someone filled up the form.

Rocky: How come?
EC: Before July 2002, political parties were allowed to register on behalf of constituents who had not been registered

We can only hope that with the use of indelible ink in the upcoming elections will reduce the level of voter fraud. But then we'd have the other area of voter fraud concern - that of Postal Votes.

And oddly enough, the question of Postal Votes wasn't even brought up in the interview... A case of strategic editorial omission, or is there something more to this analysis by Howsy, than meets the eye?