Friday, March 12, 2010

Caning: Jakim denies online poll tampering

A Jakim official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, has today denied that the Islamic government agency is tampering with the online polls on its website.

Over the past week, Jabatan Kefahaman Islam Malaysia (Jakim) has been running a contentious online poll - “Is it appropriate for Muslim men and women who commit the offense of consuming alcohol and illicit sex be caned under the provision of the sariah criminal laws?”

The poll so far shows that voters are split on the issue.

But while the responses are very much equally divided, there has been accusations that the survey is rigged to favour caning.

As at 12.37pm today, 3,871 answered 'Appropriate', while 3,522 voted 'Not Appropriate'. Those who voted 'Appropriate' are leading with a slim majority of 349.

Blogger cries foul

Blogger Timothy Teoh is one of those crying foul over the Jakim poll. In a posting on Tuesday, he gave a detailed analysis of the voting results between 11.26am to 5.44pm on Tuesday.

He identified several instances when the 'Appropriate' votes “miraculously” shot up whenever the 'Not Appropriate' was leading.

He documented a jump of 132 'Appropriate' votes at 11.45am, another jump of 500 votes between 5.12pm and 5.14pm and yet another 500 vote jump between 5.52pm and 5.54pm.

“The jumps are all in 100, 200, 500 increments (and one instance early on where it was exactly double).

The odds are that if people outside Jakim were putting in real votes, the increments wouldn't be so neat.”

Teoh today clarified to Malaysiakini that he was not completely certain that Jakim itself is behind the alleged rigging.

“It could be that the site is outsourced to an IT guy who did it, or a Jakim supporter did it. Just that the neat 500-increment spikes are very suspicious.”

This came in the wake of a similar allegation about vote-fixing in the Home Ministry's online poll on the Internal Security Act.

'No tampering'

However, the Jakim official insisted that there was no vote tampering. “Everything is done in a transparent manner,” said the Jakim official. “We are not manipulating the results. If we were, we would have blocked the 'Not Appropriate' votes. “In fact, we are surprised that there is such a high number of respondents, both for and against.

The highest response we have gotten in our previous polls was around 700 votes.”

The source explained that the poll, which began last Friday, will continue until further notice.

“It is probable that proponents of both sides are campaigning over the matter, resulting in spikes in the number of votes.”

The issue of caning of Muslim women for offenses against the Islamic law has ran into controversy.

Early this month, The Star daily was issued a show-cause letter for an article it carried which touched on the issue. The newspaper later retracted the article and followed this up by spiking social activist Marina Mahathir's column on the same topic.

According to the Jakim source, the poll was done under orders from the director-general. The survey is a response to the recent controversy of three Muslim women being caned under provisions of the syariah laws for illicit sex, while another woman is awaiting to be caned for alcohol consumption.

Apart from the poll, Jakim has put up an explanation on the reasoning behind the caning sentences on its website.

courtesy of Malaysiakini

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