Wednesday, May 22, 2013

malaysiakini and BECOMING a Better Nation

There is this interesting story about a serious mistake in the swearing-in of Ministers before they were appointed as Senators. Some will claim it is a small matter but it does reflect the attitude of national leaders who should know better - now this is a good example of how leaders set the tone for the nation.

The following story is fiction but hope springs eternal. Let us all pray that this will happen.

Following national unrest after the 13GE when the BN received less than 49% of the popular vote but still managed to retain control of the government, the government established a Parliamentary Select Committee to examine and recommend how the election process can be improved so that the concept of “one man, one vote” can be applied more effectively and give Malaysians the opportunity to select the government of their choice.

The Speaker is the Chairman of the PSC for Democratic and Human Rights Practices and he will be explaining the important steps to strengthen democracy and the democratic process for Malaysians.

Since the May 5th GE, it has been unfortunate that many Ministers made mistakes in their new roles and instead of healing the wounds and reconciling Malaysians, some even made matters worse.

These include:
1. The Home Minister asking the Malaysians who do not support the BN to migrate elsewhere.
2. The Minister of Trade advising Malaysian traders that they had the right to boycott business owners who support the opposition.

These public remarks have not helped the domestic economy and many foreign investors have delayed their projects. Our GDP shrank by 2% in the last quarter and unemployment has risen to 5%. The KLCI has also fallen by 100 points in the past 2 months.

The PM realized the challenges facing the economy and wants to address the many issues and truly wants a genuine reconciliation of all Malaysians after the divisive General Elections.

In fact the PSC has been meeting in secret for the past 3 months in order that our work could go on without any outside interference.

All the 9 members, including 4 from the Opposition, are loyal citizens whose main concern is the security and progress of our nation. We agreed to meet and submit this report only to the press and without any conditions from the Prime Minister’s office or the Cabinet.

Such is the state of the nation that you are going to be the first one to be told of our recommendations. We ask that you publish our Press Release in full and then comment on the proposals.

The 13GE saw a record turn-out of voters at 85.4%. This augurs well for Malaysia as it shows that Malaysians want a bigger say in the management of the nation and willing to demonstrate their commitment to the nation.

The BN managed to secure enough seats to retain power; even though it lost the popular votes. This has created unrest among the population as this is the first time the BN has lost the popular vote and exposed many Malaysians to the practice of gerrymandering for the first time.
The Elections Commission implemented many changes in the elections process but there were complaints of missing names and the missing indelible ink is a serious issue.

Here is the summary of our main recommendations: As our work is being reported directly to the Press and not to the Cabinet, it shows that the Prime Minister is sincere in wanting major reforms for Malaysia. We request that you consider the proposals seriously but any constructive feedback can be made directly to the PMO.

At present, the ratio between the largest and smallest constituency is in the order of about 9 – with Putrajaya having 15,000 voters and large towns having more than 100,000. In effect, 1 voter in Putrajaya has the same voting power as 9 voters in a city. This is grossly unfair.

We propose new guidelines for delineation so that by 2016, this discrepancy be reduced to maximum of 2 between any 2 constituencies.
We propose the following to reduce gerrymandering.
Urban seats to have population between 40,000 to 80,000 and will split into 2 after reaching 80,000
Semi-urban seats between 30,000 to 60,000 and will split into 2 after reaching 60,000
Rural seats to have between 20,000 to 40,000 and will split into 2 after reaching 40,000.

The classification between urban, semi-urban and rural seats will removed by 2020 or when the seat reaches the population of the next classification; whichever comes earlier.
In other words by 2020, seat classification is going to become obsolete and we will adopt only one yardstick- the 40,000 guideline.

In order to reduce the effects of gerrymandering in 14GE, all smaller seats like Putrajaya will be merged with an adjacent constituency so that the population criteria will be maintained by 2020.
It is proposed that the postal codes will be the main factor to decide how constituencies will be redrawn.

We propose that the Elections Commission should become an independent body and not operate from the PMO. A PSC to have oversight on Democratic Practices and Human Rights will audit and report all irregularities of the EC to Parliament.

As the RCI on Project IC revealed, some 100,000 foreigners have been given Mykads without proper documentation and the NRD is largely responsible for this problem.

Thus we have established a special task force to re-check all these instant citizens via a 2-stage process.
In stage 1, all will be given a red Mykad and the blue Mykad will have to be returned pending approval. Proper checks will be conducted for birth certificates, citizenship papers, proof of residence, marriage certificates etc before the Mykads are re-issued.
Those who do not qualify will retain their red Mykads and eligible to apply for citizenship after 5 years.

The PSC recognizes the important role of NGOs in a democratic nation like Malaysia. Hence we have agreed that BERSIH officials be appointed to assist in the clean-up of the electoral rolls.

We propose that a caretaker government be appointed during the 14 days of the elections campaign. Also no government machinery will be used for polls campaign and all official cars etc will be surrendered to the caretaker government.
The outgoing PM will appoint a caretaker subject to the approval of Parliament. No special policies may be announced that

The population will enjoy access to all political parties via main stream media like newspapers and government TV stations. The Multi-media Ministry will also educate voters on the voting process and conduct during polls.
It is a shame that some voters were not aware that the indelible ink was only for marking their fingers only – some voters thought the ink was to be used for marking the ballot paper!

As it is the general consensus that the 13GE has too many incidents of fraud, failure of indelible ink, phantom voters and illegal voters to be considered free and fair elections, we propose that the next GE will be fixed in December 2015 to enable ALL Malaysians to have a free hand to decide their future.
All these points will have to be approved by Parliament in a special sitting within 30 days of this Press Conference.

The Prime Minister believes that these proposals will enable Malaysians to understand more clearly the workings of a maturing democracy. We request that newspapers and other media have a special role to play in this great endeavor. With your cooperation we can build a great nation based on truth and justice.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

malaysiakini and Improving Malaysia’s Elections Systems(2)

Apart from improving the security during storage of the postal and advanced voting ballot boxes for which it was reported that the police did not allow the scrutiny promised by the EC Chairman, there are other matters that can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the polling process.

First of all, the EC Chairman should not be making empty promises that are not going to be kept:

Publicly stating that the ballot boxes could be guarded by agents of political parties like even sleeping in the police stations was a mistake unless he really has the authority to order the station chiefs to allow such a facility. One wonders if ballot boxes are safe in police stations when so many remand detainees still get killed in police custody.

Then there was the boast of the indelible ink that would last for “x” days. I only washed dishes twice on polling day and Presto! My finger is as clean as before. No need for any special cleaning liquid. Now he gives the feeble excuse that people are trying to subvert the EC’s credibility. In my mind, the EC lost much of its credibility long before the GE. The EC now claims that after all indelible ink is not the main control of voters as the electoral roll is the main determinant.

I agree with that IF the EC had taken more active steps to clean up the rolls before the elections as they had 4 months to do so with the cooperation of BERSIH and the Selangor state government. Why did they not accept such cooperation if it was incapable of doing so?

It is not rocket science to use computers to throw up lists of suspicious candidates with the following characteristics:

Set 1 Same date of birth(same Mykad)                    Similar name
Set 2 No definite address
Set 3 More than 10 voters at same address
Set 4 Mykad was replaced (can verify with NRD for supporting documents like birth certificate, citizenship documents etc)

Just accepting a Mykad as proof of eligibility to vote is not adequate and if these background reports are done every 6 months on a regular basis, the number of phantoms will disappear.

A Select Parliamentary Committee should have oversight of how the EC conducts activities to verify the existence of such voters. If we have a credible system of checking regularly for phantom voters, the use of indelible can actually be replaced.

I believe indelible ink can cause spoilt votes as the ink can create smudges in the wrong places.


First of all, there were many new KTMs appointed by the EC and many did not have adequate training or guidelines about the procedural matters especially with respect to Borang 13 and 14 – the latter is actually required by law to be given to the polling agents after the ballots have been counted and finalized(if a recount is done).

Now there has been a police report about a KTM refusing to issue the Borang 14, an offence that carries a fine and /or jail term. Why would any Elections Officer want to do that? In my own saluran, the KTM offered to allow us to copy his Borang 13 and 14 and overall, he was quite a good person but he was also a newbie, often checking his notes and often communicating with officials outside the room.

Why do KTMs even have to be civil servants?
To me the KTM is an important role in the democratic process and hence the KTM can be any qualified Malaysian who has undergone a test to prove his competence.

The Elections Commission should in face conduct perhaps a week-long course each year and maintain a register of those who pass the practical and theory tests.

I suggest KTMs should provide a performance bond of say RM1000 so that they will be punctual and diligent during the polls. That way we will not have KTMs wasting time by refusing to provide copies of Borangs 13 and 14.

After all, it is quite a serious offence according to the Elections Laws.


The Borang 13 and 14 can be upgraded and redesigned as follows:

These forms can be multi-copy with different colours-one for the EC records and three more copies for the candidates.

The following section will be included at the bottom of the form. “I certify that I have received the Borang13(or 14) from the KTM” Signed by: Paca1 Paca2 Paca3 -------------------------- ------------------------------- ---------------------

If the KTM returns the Borang13 and 14 without the signatures of the pacas, it is automatically deemed an Elections offence. 


I suggest the information that one gets on entering the Mykad details is inadequate. Only the school name is given and that does not provide enough info for a new voter to locate the voting centre. The full address shbe provided plus the GPS information so that no one will need to search for the proper voting centre.


I wonder how far are we from the era of digital voting that can solve many of the current complications like double voting by the military, phantom voters and other methods of cheating.
I envisage such a system would have a Mykad reader similar to those used in banks so a fingerprint can be scanned. We can also have a digital camera to record the faces to tracebacks can be done in cases of possible fraud.

However instead of re-inventing the wheel, we can adopt the Brazilian system that has been used since 1996 and the experience has been good according to this article.
We should study the Brazilian model as it appears harder to cheat compared to ballot boxes that fall from the skies!

Many observers have commented that the EC’s delineation of constituencies creates an unfair representation for the majority of voters. The EC should be ordered to develop a fairer size distribution for Parliamentary seats instead of the obvious evidence of gerrymandering.

Putrajaya is a case in point where about 16,000 civil servants are basically given the same representation as 80,000 voters in an urban constituency – this is a gross injustice!

I suggest parliamentary constituencies be divided as follows:

Urban constituencies 40,000 to 80,000 voters with a spilt after the population increases beyond 80,000

Semi-urban 30,000 to 60,000 splitting after 60,000

Rural 20,000 to 40,000 splitting after 40,000

For Putrajaya, it can be treated as a semi-urban block and merged with another constituency.

How to delineate the constituencies?
A simple method is to use postal codes as the starting pont - if not enough in one area, can use 2 or 3 postal codes.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

malaysiakini's FREE reports during Malaysia’s 13th General Elections and How to IMPROVE the Elections Process(1).

Congrats to m’kini for its free reports during Malaysia’s General Elections and particularly this story about the ordinary citizens trying to protect ballot boxes.

I suggest that the concerted efforts of BERSIH and other NGOs have improved the election process somewhat but there are still loop-holes that may jeopardize the integrity of the elections and these could be classified under administrative and legalistic issues.

First of all, the Elections Commission should not be reporting to the Prime Minister; especially since we do not appoint a caretaker PM during the polls and hence there is a conflict of interest in the present system.

Of course there has been wholesale abuse of government machinery like executive jets and helicopters and even civil servants are used during the campaign period. Dare the EC Chairman take action on such abuse?

The treatment of postal votes too leaves much to be desired.

I have the following questions with respect to postal votes:
1. How are the ballots allocated to different seats?
2. Is the register of postal votes determined with the same cut-off date as that of normal voters?
3. When is the allocation of constituency done?
4. What is the longest time allowed between the time postal votes are cast and the polling date?
5. What is the grace period for the ballots to be sent to the counting centres?

These questions indicate some areas which can affect the final polls outcome if postal votes can be tampered with during the period after voting to arrival at the Main Counting Centre.


I suggest that since military camps have different sizes, the number of postal votes is officially determined for each camp each year and that number cannot be increased for the elections. We simply cannot have the whole army transferred to a particular camp just so the Minister of Defence enjoys a safe seat!

The transfer cut-off date for registering of postal voters should be the same as for the civilian register. The postal votes should be allocated to a specific constituency each year at the same time as the number of postal voters.

The time postal votes are cast and the polling date should be kept to a maximum like 3 days as follows:
1 day balloting and transfer to a secured location that must have cctv surveillance with online transmission to 3 remote sites plus security guards.
1 day transfer to the Main Counting Centre(MCC)
1 day at Main Counting Centre I wonder if keeping ballot boxes at police stations is a good idea when we still cannot guarantee the safety of prisoners in remand.

There should be a definite cut-off window of time for the ballot boxes to arrive at the MCC – I suggest between 3pm to 4pm so that various checks on seals etc can be completed before the actual counting. Late ballot boxes will not be allowed in.

There should be only one entrance at the MCC for the postal ballot boxes to be brought in and details of the transport should be provided to all parties.


As the m’kini story indicates, the independent candidate lost by just 64 votes out of the total cast, it appears that a recount would be the most suitable manner to determine the results instead of having to file an Elections Petition that will take months to resolve.

I would make the following new rule for a recount if all the Borang 14 and ballot boxes have been properly handled. The 4% recount rule at the polling stations is subject to the following:

“The difference in the winning margin must be 1% or less and after this recount at the Main Counting Centre, each party of the 2 main contestants and the SPR can ask only ask for an additional recount ONCE.”

Table is compiled from Comments in the article – for illustration purpose only. Lau Lee (BN) 7,905 votes; Koh Boon Heng (Ind) 7,841 votes; Jamaluddin (PKR) 2,435 votes; Mohd Nor (Ind) 174 votes; rejected & unreturned 717 votes; MAJORITY 64 votes. Let’s see how the 1% rule applies to this scenario. BN 7905 Ind 7841 PKR 2435 Ind2 174 Spoilt 717 Total 19072 Majority 68 % of total 0.36

In this case, if we apply the 1% rule, a recount must be done. This better than putting more workload on the justice system and reduce bias as the votes are direct evidence and the people are the best protectors of our democracy.

If such a recount takes place, we can have perhaps 5 sets of counting teams so that the entire process of counting about 2000 ballots will take about 90 minutes. Surely this is better than waiting for the results in court?

photo: thanks to m'kini

Monday, May 6, 2013

13 General Elections - a day as a Counting and Polling Agent

I attended the training for PACA many months ago and during the early days, the number was not more than 30 on a good day.
In fact I lost some interest after a while as the polls were delayed until the end of  Najib's term and the training seemed haphazard.
Then about two weeks before the elections, there was an SMS advising those who had received training to attend a refresher course and so my wife and I went for that - now the numbers had increased to some 50 to 60 persons and the number of young faces was significant.
When we had the last training on May 1st, the number had grown by leaps and bounds and the room was filled to capacity; with more than 200 enthusiastic volunteers.
Then on 4th May during the last-minute briefing, our MP hopeful addressed the volunteers and the atmosphere in the room was full of energy-with even a new batch of green PACA wannabes who were no doubt inspired by the mega-rallies in the JB area; especially with Lim Kit Siang contesting in Gelang Patah. On polling day I woke at 4:50am as I wanted to prepare some sandwiches and also have breakfast before reporting for duty at the polling station in Taman Melodies, where we used to live. We arrived before 7am and were able to enter the teachers' car park of the private school and entered the polling station via the back gate. It could be considered a security breach as all the controls were at the front of the main entrance. We had a last-minute briefing and went to our respective stations(saluran)at 7:30am. The polls officer was a young courteous guy and at first there were three female clerks in charge of the various duties like identifying the voter, painting the second finger on the left hand with indelible ink and the issuing of the two ballot papers, one for Parliament and the other for state. The voting opened at 8am sharp and the turnout was heavy, with no lull in the proceedings. My relief polling agent took over at 10:30am and my wife and I drove to Taman Pelangi to the school where we voted for the past two elections. On the way we passed other polling centres and noted the heavy turnout. So we were pleasantly surprised to be able to park within 100 meters of the school entrance, wait two minutes to verify our saluran and then walk straight into the polling station without waiting at all. We were done with voting within five minutes. The only cheating I saw was the clerk at the SPR checking outside had a small piece of paper about A6 sized with a X marked on the BN symbol and the word "undi". I wanted to report her but was not familiar with the pacas in the school and she had hidden the paper under her work when It was my turn. The other problem with the polling at the school was that the ink used was not really indelible and my finger was totally cleaned up just after two sessions of dish-washing! What a waste of public funds - apart from the cost of the ink , maybe RM8 million and also another admin charge for the extra clerk at thousands of polling stations nationwide. So we were able to return home to catch up on some sleep before we were to report back for the next session at 4pm. At 4:30pm we reported for the final stage and there was no one waiting to vote. In fact from 4:30pm no one turned up to vote. At 4:45pm the polling officer announced that the station be closed but there were objections from one of the SPR clerks and also the two polling agents. So the station remained open till the official closing time. A note on the indelible ink: we were cheated by the supplier or the SPR as my finger became totally clean after just two sessions of washing some dishes!