In case you somehow haven’t heard, Malaysia is heading towards its 15th General Election later this month. Because of this, plenty of people are probably seeing a bunch of banners and posters propped up all over town telling them who to vote for and such. However, it seems as though some parties are reaching their potential voters via other means, such as personally messaging them on WhatsApp.
According to several users on Twitter, they have been contacted by certain parties reminding them of where to vote. One user who was contacted by Barisan Nasional was reportedly sent a picture of a piece of paper with their details which included their name, identification number, address and where they were voting for, with the person reminding them to vote in the upcoming elections. Another was just sent a poster promoting BN’s candidate for the constituency they were voting for. There was also a user who was sent a poster of their constituency’s Perikatan Nasional candidate, along with the PN manifesto.
Apa benda ni?— ana (@anamarysha) November 7, 2022
Is it normal to receive “peringatan pertama” via ws from mobile numbers??? Undilah BN?? wtf where did this person even get my information and number??
IS THIS SAFE? What are these BN people up to??? Going through rakyat’s info like this & expect to vote for them? pic.twitter.com/krVIbytfjA
Sama dh kena 2x, annoying sia tak bagi salam apa astu terus send gitu pic.twitter.com/uIed1S2BYS— 🏴Spaghetti #SavePalestine 🇵🇸 (@syafzaziz) November 7, 2022
GURL SAME BUKAN BN JE TAPI PN PUN SAMA JE???????? pic.twitter.com/HXI2bkykhT— Dyn (@diyamunt) November 8, 2022
Apparently, it is actually normal for political parties to have the details of voters. According to Malaysiakini journalist Aidila Razak, political parties do have copies of the electoral roll, giving them details of voters’ names, identification number and address, along with the location of where they’re voting in. She says that this allows parties to send this information to voters’ mailboxes, allowing them to know where to vote while advertising their party logo.
This seems to match with the experience of several other users on social media, who claimed to have received a piece of paper with their details similar to that from the first tweet above in their mailboxes. Understandably, this led to some concern about just leaving crucial information like their identification number exposed in public like that.
Siapa yang arif tentang isu ini kot boleh tolong explain. Aku pun tak sure benda ni boleh or tak. Kalau boleh, mcmana boleh dapat info semua penghuni rumah? pic.twitter.com/TFa5YjhMmU— Injang (@Injang_Nation) November 7, 2022
However, it’s the move to send a picture to Malaysian voters directly on WhatsApp that seems to be the problem here. Mobile numbers are apparently not supposed to be part of the details kept in the electoral roll; when you check your voter details on the SPR website for example, it only shows you your name, address, birthday and information about where you’re voting in. This might imply that there’s some sort of data breach going on here.
That being said though, prior to the automatic registration of voters in Malaysia, when you filled up the voter registration form, it seemingly does ask for your contact number so presumably the EC may keep contact numbers after all and that the electoral roll data going to political parties has them. One user on Twitter who received a call from a PN rep claims that when they asked the caller where they got their number from, they had gotten it from the Election Commission.
Haritu dpt kol dari pn. Bila tanya mana dapat no, dia kata spr yg kasi🤓.— bananamango🇲🇾 (@bananamango0805) November 7, 2022
Another point of concern is that the electoral roll is seemingly available out on the open on the SPR website too. Navigating through the SPR website, we found that it was possible to access their list of new voters registered on a month-by-month basis, categorised by state and constituency. It lists out details such as each new voter’s name, locality, municipality and part of their identification number. Voters who have switched their constituency also have their details listed here. However, it doesn’t include their mobile numbers.
If you’ve received similar messages or calls, you should perhaps also question where they got your personal details from. In the meantime, if you’re still unsure about where and when to vote for, you can click here to read more about how to check your voter registration details.