SPR sinks further into opacity and sluggishness

SPR transparency has deteriorated notably since mid 2008. Further, SPR slowed down quarterly gazetting of electoral rolls to 5 months.

These are the opacity, sluggishness, and oddities we have observed in SPR performance:

1. SPR no longer cites the specific gazette date for the electoral rolls to be used in the April 7 by-elections.

Regarding Bukit Selambau (P014N25) and Bukit Gantang (P059) by-elections, SPR informed Bernama (but without written statement on SPR's own Website) only in general quarterly. The SPR chairman said that "the electoral roll to be used was the Master Electoral Roll 2007 which had been merged with the supplementary electoral rolls for the first, second and third quarters of 2008." (See 3-in-1 By-Elections on April 7?)

When were these rolls officially gazetted? SPR didn't say.

We are left to dig and assume that, for the electoral roll ending third quarter (2008 Sep 30), the gazette date must be the latest gazette date 2009 February 19, displayed in the header on the voter look-up page at http://daftarj.spr.gov.my/daftarj/daftarbi.aspx (this is an already-gazetted, nationwide, roll for voters to look up on an individual basis). However, this is only an assumption, because SPR has previously used different by-election rolls than the latest-gazetted, nationwide, roll.

SPR's statement on Batang Ai to Bernama was even more opaque, failing to cite any data date or quarterly periods for the electoral roll to be used. See http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v3/bm/news.php?id=393934

2. SPR has failed to publicize official verification and gazetting processes
since mid-2008:

  1. the quarterly display and verification of supplementary rolls, and
  2. the eventual gazetting of the quarterly changes to add to the nationwide electoral roll.
By law, quarterly (supplementary) changes to voter rolls must be displayed for the public to check before being gazetted.

But SPR seems to have kept an extremely low profile on these events in the second half of 2008, failing to make public statement about the displays or gazette. There has been no official SPR press statement on the SPR Web site or through the government mouth piece Bernama.

Why this secrecy in second half of 2008? Did SPR fear the inevitable confusion and protest by Permatang Pauh (P044) and Kuala Terengganu (P036) voters, due to the variances between those 2 by-election rolls (respectively dated 2008 July 31 and 2008 Dec 5) from the nearest nationwide gazetted rolls (respectively dated 2008 Jul 19 and 2008 Nov 28)? See "What's so complicated ..." and "surprises and guesses."

We are left to grasp at haphazard clues such as these:
  • In December 2008 when we checked SPR's nationwide voter lookup page, the header revealed SPR has a gazetted version from 2008 November 28 (it has since been updated to the latest 2009 Feb 19). See our earlier post about "surprises and guesses."
  • However, SPR statement to Bernama indicated it had also gazetted another by-election roll a few days later on 2008 Dec 5 for the KT by-election.
  • We are again left to assume, that the KT roll was based on 2008 2nd quarter changes, meaning the changes were gazetted nearly 5 months after the close of the second quarter on 2008 Jun 30.
So far we learn a few things:
  • a by-election roll may be gazetted (as in KT P036) or not gazetted (as in PP P044),
  • a different by-election roll can be prepared only a few days after a nationwide roll has already been gazetted (especially in KT)
  • A quarterly roll is recently being gazetted about 5 months after the quarter closes.

What did and did not the SPR publicize?

Questions, phrased differently:

  • Why weren't the pre-gazette verification of the 3rd and 4th quarterly changes of 2008 publicized in the media, newspapers, and post offices?
  • Why wasn't there any media notice or official press statement about the November 28, 2008 (presumably 2008 second quarter changes) gazetted roll just before KT by-election, and the recently gazetted roll of Feb 19, 2009 (presumably 2008 third quarter changes)?

3. SPR has sharlply slowed down its quarterly voter verification and gazettes.

While it took only 36 days to gazette the December 2007 changes by 2008 Feb 5 for the 2008 March 8 GE12, verification and gazettes since mid-2008 have been sluggish and non-transparent, and took nearly 5 months. (Note the 2007 fourth quarter roll had included a rush of enthusiastic voter registrations and massive postal movements, anticipating GE12.)
  • What about 2008's 4th quarter? Why are we still using 2008 third-quarter roll changes?
  • The gazetting process seems to have stretched out to about 5 months by now, compared to about 1 month for early 2008.
  • Register for 6 months before you can vote: A voter in Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau who registered at the beginning of October 2008, eg, will not be able to vote in the by-elections, even more than 6 months after registration (from 2008 Oct 1 to 2009 Apr 7).

Table A shows that the pace of voter roll verification and gazette has slowed down to about 5 months.

Table A: Gazetting Process Slowing to 5 Months
Quarterly voter changes2007Q42008Q12008Q22008Q32008Q4
Quarter closing2007Dec312008Mar312008Jun302008Sep302008Dec31
Display on WebYesYesNoNoNo
Gazette date2008Feb52008Jun162008Nov282009Feb19???
Days from quarter closing36107151142???

4. Timing of by-election is dubious :
  • KT's by-election had to wait for 51 days (out of the maximum 60 days allowed by law) because of the northeast monsoon rain in December, but Bukit Selambau and Bukit Gantang had to wait for 57 days for what?
  • Why does by-election on a Tuesday, not on weekends, or even a Monday or Friday?
  • Does Apr 4, Saturday, or 54 days make any difference in "security" except that minus 9 days means smack in the middle of UMNO party election?
  • Why does nomination day on March 29 have to wait until just after UMNO's party election on March 28?
  • Why create the longest-ever wait for by-election of 57 days, nearly the longest allowable by law, but the shortest allowable campaigning period of 9 days? Why not more campaigning days to accomodate the three differently-located by-elections?
  • Why 3 by-elections on the same day, that will stretch all the media, opposition political parties, NGOs, volunteers, except the well-financed governing coalition which has never been ashamed or penalized for abusing government machinery and funds?
Also see:

More opacity:
  • The online display of PDF copies of quarterly electoral changes on SPR Website has been discontinued since 2008Q2. see SPR becoming less transparent. Why?
  • The official CD containing the roll only have a hand-writted "disahkan" (authenticated/confirmed) "18/2/2009," without details inside the CD.


Kah Seng said...

SPR has gone from worse to "worser." Now even the official voter verification web page no longer cites the date of gazette.

See http://malvu.blogspot.com/2009/03/spr-sinks-further-into-opacity-and.html.

SPR does not make an effort through the media to call voters to register and to check the quarterly changes.

When SPR cannot avoid making press statement (during by-election), SPR also does not cite the specific date of the last electoral roll gazette, leaving us to guess it is April 16 from Bernama reports (also see above link).

Kah Seng said...

The Batang Air by-election roll gazette date turned out to be 2009 Mar 5 (compared to Feb 18 for Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau).

See these announcement buried inside SPR website:


N. 29 batang Air, Sarawak by election was held following the death of its elected representative, Y.B. Datuk Dublin Unting Anak Ingkot on 24th February 2009. EC had its meeting on the 5th of March and decided on the following dates:

(i) Date of Confirmed Vacancy: 24 February 2009
(ii) Date of Issuance of Writ: 4 March 2009
(iii) Date of Issuance of Notice : 6 March 2009
(iv) Date of Nomination of Candidates: 29 March 2009
(v) Date of Election: 7 April 2009

The Electoral Roll used was updated and re-gazetted on the 5th of March 2009, containing 8006 voters, which consists of 7963 ordinary voters and 43 postal voters.

Statement of the Poll After The Official Addition of Votes (Form 16)

Pilihan Raya Kecil N.29 Batang Air, Sarawak diadakan berikutan kematian wakil rakyatnya iaitu Y. B Datuk Dublin Unting Anak Ingkot pada 24 Februari 2009. SPR yang mengadakan mesyuarat khasnya pada 4 Mac 2009 telah menetapkan tarikh-tarikh pilihan raya seperti berikut :-

(i) Tarikh Kekosongan : 24 Februari 2009
(ii) Tarikh Writ dikeluarkan : 4 Mac 2009
(iii) Tarikh Pengeluaran Notis : 6 Mac 2009
(iv) Tarikh Penamaan Calon : 29 Mac 2009
(v) Tarikh Pengundian : 7 April 2009

Daftar Pemilih yang digunakan ialah daftar pemilih yang dikemaskini dan diwartakan semula pada 5 Mac 2009 yang mengandungi 8006 orang pemilih, terdiri daripada 7963 pemilih biasa dan 43 pemilih pos.

Penyata Pengundian Selepas Penjumlahan Rasmi Undi (Borang 16)