SABAH RCI Some 50,000 people with identity cards classified as "problematic" by the National Registration Department (NRD) were on the Sabah electoral roll used in the 13th general election, the royal commission of inquiry heard today. 

NONESerdang MP Ong Kian Ming (left) testified that he found these 49,159 voters on Sabah's electoral roll when he did a cross check with a list of problematic ICs tendered as evidence during testimony by a NRD witness  to the royal commission of inquiry into illegal immigrants in the state on Jan 16. 

According to Ong, this represented 4.9 percent of the 1.6 million voters in Sabah and is "sufficient to swing elections".

For example, he said, the winning majorities in Tawau and Beaufort were smaller than the number of voters holding problematic ICs who were on the rolls for both the constituencies respectively. 

"If placed at strategic seats, it can affect the outcome of the elections. 

"Delimitation is also expected to take place at the end of this year...and 5 percent can lead to an increase of one or two parliamentary seats or three state seats," he testified.
‘Kalabakan highest’

NRD IC division for Sabah and Sarawak assistant head Ruslan Alias testified in January that there were 130,549 old IC numbers in their records considered problematic, due to incomplete information.

Ruslan then testified that the ICs - all with serial numbers staring with the letter H - were categorised as P1 and P2 based on the IC serial number and P3 denotes old ICs which have been cancelled.

Ong, who conducted the cross-check as an update to the Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (Merap) which concluded in October 2012, said that eight out of 10 constituencies with the largest number of such voters were located on the Sabah east coast. 

The highest is Kalabakan with P1 and P2 IC holders making up 13.4 percent of total voters, while the smallest is Pensiangan with P1 and P2 IC holders making up 0.4 percent of total voters. 

He said that while Labuan, an island federal territory off Sabah, is not officially part of the state, he included it in the data set for analytical purposes.  

Ong said that more than half of these P1 and P2 IC holders registered as voters from 1990 to 2000.

“Even after the end of the supposed Project IC, still another 25 percent of them registered as voters. Twelve point nine percent registered after 2010,” he testified. 

Transfer of old IC numbers

To a question by conducting officer Manoj Kurup, he said that the issue is unlikely to go away in the near future as there are still a balance of at least 50,000 P1 and P2 holders who may register as voters soon, assuming that their ICs have not been cancelled.

He said that his team’s analysis of the Sabah roll also found evidence which may suggest “transfer” of old IC numbers from one person to another.

NONEIn one case in Tawau, he said, one person was registered with an IC number which started with the letter H.

The old IC was later replaced with a new 12 digit IC number, but the old IC number was then found to have been used to register another voter.

“I’m not sure what to make of this, but I suspect there was an updating process, where the cards were transferred from one person to another and because of administrative errors, this was detected by my team,” he said. 

He said they also found “puzzling” anomalies where someone holding an old IC number was registered as having been born in May 1961 but was later registered as being born in December 1951 when he upgraded to the 12-digit IC. 

NONE“There is high suspicion over why the new IC was issued. But only one (IC number) exists on the roll,” he said.

He said there was also a disproportionate number of people registered in Sabah, whose ICs show they are Sabah born who have “foreign” ethnicities compared to in other states.

“If one generation of parents come in and are naturalised, their children are Malaysian, and there should be a more even balance between Malaysian-born IC holders and those born overseas. 

“But (in Sabah) it is predominantly Malaysian born, which is inconsistent from a statistical perspective,” he said.  

For example, 60 percent of Malaysians who have “foreign” ethnicities are Malaysian-born, he said, but the number is much higher in Sabah and Labuan. 

‘EC should conduct independent checks’

Among his recommendations for improvement, Ong said the Election Commission (EC) should be empowered to do their own checks on the veracity of an IC and not only rely on the NRD. 

“The EC should be in a position to screen these applicants and verify to see if the registration is genuine. It can’t just link to the NRD,” he said.

He also urged the authorities to prosecute interested parties who try to manipulate the roll by providing incentives for voters to change their addresses in order to vote in “strategic” constituencies. 

As for the close to 50,000 P1 and P2 IC holders on the roll, he said that the EC and NRD must conduct a thorough probe to see if each of these ICs was issued genuinely and whether to maintain these voters on the roll.

~ Malaysiakini