1001 Police IC Changes = 1001 Potential Confusions

SPR again slightly modified all police IC numbers. The same police voters actually remain registered in KT. But researchers who compare electoral rolls using IC numbers may mistake them as 1001 missing voters and – at the same time – another 1001 newly added voters. Such confusion had accounted for half the mystery and uproar about “900+ missing voters” in the Permatang Pauh by-election in August 2008.

Background: Confusion in Permatang Pauh

  • In the Permatang Pauh by-election of August 2008, media widely reported that over 900 voters were “missing” from the by-election roll, and “mysteriously” replaced by other voters.(MalaysiaKini article)
  • SPR reacted with indignation, but its press release only explained half the missing voters.
  • Our investigation found that 400+ voters actually did not go missing.
  • They were police postal voters who had had their IC numbers slightly modified, such as from R0012345 to RF12345, RT012345 to RFT12345, and G0012345 to G12345.
  • Because IC numbers are the only unique identification for all voters, researchers comparing old and new electoral rolls can easily interprete the bulk change in IC numbers as missing and replaced voters.
  • We need to compare the changed ICs pair-by-pair to ascertain they are the same names and directly-related but differently-formatted ICs. We provide a detailed table for the Permatang Pauh police ICs here in Table C in an earlier report.
  • The issue is not only confusing to political parties and NGOs.
  • The fact that SPR did not explain this change clearly means SPR internally must have also taken some time to sort this out, or figure it too complicated to try to explain immediately.

Again in Kuala Terengganu: 1,001 Police ICs are modified and shortened.
Table A shows actual examples of the types of changes made to police postal voter IC number in KT:

  • Police IC numbers starting with R are converted to RF.
  • Police IC numbers starting with RT are converted to RFT
  • Starting zeros in number are eliminated.
  • Some numbers that had 3 leading zeros are shortened to only 4 digits, such as G8495.
  • We count 18 police IC numbers that have only 4 digits, following the letter “G” or “I.”

Table A: Actual Examples of Police Postal Voter IC Modification in KT

Gazetted 20080205 Gazetted 20081205
GE12 By election
R0116871 RF116871
R0099584 RF99584
RT012038 RFT12038
RT009763 RFT9763
G0110312 G110312
G0011274 G11274
G0008495 G8495
I0113340 I113340
I0013732 I13732

Table B gives an overview of changes made and not made in KT:

  • All non-police, non-military, non-postal, voters use the 12-digit IC. This does not cause any confusion.
  • KT contains 1,035 postal voters:
    • 7 are absentee postal voters, who use the regular 12-digit ICs. No change and no confusion here.
    • 27 are army postal voters, who use military IC, such as T123456. Because there are no changes this time, there should be no confusion here.
    • But 1,001 are police postal voters, using police IC numbers. Every one of these poice IC numbers in KT have been modified and shortened, when we compare the 2008 Feb 5 (GE12) electoral roll and the 2008 Dec 5 (by-election) roll.
    • About 1001 possible confusions here.

Table B: Only Police ICs Modified Among All Types of Voters in KT

Type of voters Count Type of IC Example IC # modified?
Total KT voters 80,229
Non-postal voters 79,194 12-digit 123456789012 No change
Postal voters 1,035
Postal voters
Absentee postal voters 7 12-digit 123456789012 No change
Army postal voters 27 Army T123456 No change
Police postal voters 1,001 Police R0012345>RF12345 All 1,001
Postal subtotal 1,035

Recommendation: Again, we repeat our recommendation to simplify police and military voter registration by using their 12-digit ICs:

  1. First, let police and military voters switch to a 12-digit civilian IC to simplify verification, update, and avoid duplicate registrations.
  2. Second, make voter registration automatic with MyKad status and details at the NRIC Department, to avoid SPR adding another layer of (very common) mistakes during input. Meanwhile, make NRIC accountable to the parliament, to prevent Sabah-like IC mess,
  3. Third, make SPR more transparent with the gazetted and quarterly electoral rolls. SPR has recently stopped the online publication of the quarterly rolls in PDF format.Given adequate data, NGOs and the media can actually help SPR avoid unnecessary confusion.