The “Persatuan”


boom

(The familiar facade of almost every residential areas in this country.  But setting this up and running it on a regular basis is not easy. Image source: TheStar)

I guess it is high time I stop apologizing for not doing up my blog post and I did consider ending the good old days of blogging for once and for all. But then again, I might come in here occasionally to pen down my thoughts and latest happenings.

Seriously I have been busy spending more time for myself – playing games on my smartphone (what else?), spending more precious time with my kids (I love it when my kid sits on me and ask me to read her a story) and whenever possible for that extra hour of sleep and exercise. There have been another development this year and that is quickly turning into my pet project as well – my involvement with the Resident’s Association (RA) or in Bahasa Malaysia, known as “Persatuan Penduduk“.

Still remember back in 2009 when I first talked about the RA?

Things had dragged on for couple more years until one day in 2014, I received a notice in my post box that another group of residents from the same residential area had decided to form a RA. I wondered what happened to the old RA as this will be another competing RA for the same group of residents.

A meeting was held one fine Sunday morning to explain to the residents and formalise the RA. Having nothing to lose (I was watching a dumb show on TV anyway), I went for the meeting and here it was explained what is the difference between old and new RA. Apparently the old RA was not a registered organisation and these new group of residents decided to set up a proper RA which is registered with the ROS, has a proper constitution, registration of members and have a proper committee members to manage the RA. And guess what, I was one of the committee member that got elected on that day – not that I had some special skills that can assist the RA but rather I was the only Indian chap who braved enough to show up at the meeting. So when it was time to pick a multi-race committee members, the slot for an Indian was obvious – all eyes was on me.

For the period of 2014-2016, I was not that active in the RA namely because I was stationed overseas during these times but when I was back home, I tried to help out whenever possible. We did probably the best Raya celebration (with superb food that the ladies managed to cook up) that the residents had in recent years.

Moving forward to beginning of 2016, the RA had their final AGM to pick new committee members for the period of 2016-2018 and this time, there was a couple more Indian chaps in the group, so I did not end up as the obvious choice. But seeing how residents wanting to help the RA but don’t want to be committee members themselves, I decided to volunteer this time around. Everyone was pointing at others instead of volunteering and seeing the mayhem for a moment, I opened my mouth and I ended up in the committee again. Of course the new committee members will take up more prominent role and I had decided on a more supporting role considering how I am tied up with work these days (it was the same with the previous committee).

I did mention previously in this blog that the topic of leadership have always fascinated me. And in every work or venture that I had signed up, I always look for opportunity (even the smallish) to learn. Same thing with RA this time around – with more interaction with other residents on common issues have improved command of language, I am less shy now to meet up with other people and share my leadership skills with some of the new committee members. And I am learning a lot more from other committee members who are more experienced in their line of work (we have 2 engineers as well in the group), the way they analyze the issues and the way they deal with people. One guy impressed me more than others on the subject of communication & persuasion seeing how he managed to drive up the RA membership to almost 90% now. And people in the neighborhood getting to know me (and me to them) as well – which is a good thing assuming I need their help one fine day.

Things have been interesting though – to see things from a non-commercial and educational point of view.

But then again, running an association that involves residents from multi-racial, multi-religion backgrounds has not been a smooth sailing as well. Payment for security guards had been a pain in the neck for long – from a few who are deeply concerned with the security of their families and homes to the dumb idiots who enjoy the security on the expense of others. In the last 2 years, the payment trend has been a roller coaster ride – from a good payment to hire 5 guards to almost none by end of last year. In the end, when it was not enough to hire the guards, the previous RA committee decided to stop the security services and told the residents to watch their back on their own. A couple of months later early this year and after 6 break-ins happened (2 when the residents were still in the house), the residents kind of woke up and got busy pushing the RA for security guards again.

The new RA committee in 2016 decided to go one step ahead with road closures, boom gates and fencing and this time (maybe due to the break-ins) and a better quality of security service, there is much more support from the residents this time around – almost 80% payment for first month alone and drive for new membership skyrocketed too with almost 88% of the residents joined in as the RA members. The trick is to keep up the momentum for the next 2 years or so. And to ensure residents are well informed of the RA plans (and also to pressure those who have been running behind on security payments), all of the members are added into a resident’s chat group. Peer pressure do work wonders sometime. And of course, there will be that small selfish group of morons who will always work against the wishes of the majority and they will often end up being the trouble makers. It takes time, some sense of arm twisting and anger of other residents to keep these trouble makers at bay.

This should keep me pretty much occupied for next 2 years until of course, I am away on overseas assignments.

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Biometrics vs Indelible Ink


UPDATE: Read here and here for interesting readers’ comments – an interesting link on how introduction of biometrics could mean millions in revenue for those will be supplying the whole package and why it is not worth the investment in the first place.

Back to the original post

(Showing the middle finger to indelible ink? Image source: http://www.wn.com)

Read this first:-

The Election Commission (EC) will introduce the biometric voter verification system to beef up security and overcome the issue of phantom voters, which is frequently raised by the opposition during elections.

“The use of the biometric system will also help in preventing an individual or a voter from casting vote twice,” EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof told a press conference here, reported Bernama.

(Source)

And

The EC had said that it would introduce the biometric system for the coming parliamentary election.

But state DAP secretary Chong Chieng Jen thinks otherwise.

“The biometric system can still be manipulated.

“Secondly, it is too costly. The EC needs to have thumb-print reader in every stream and in every polling station.

“It’s not practical. We would prefer the EC to use the indelible ink. It is much cheaper. This is our party’s stand,” he said.

(Source)

And

With regards to indelible ink, it is used among countries which have no identification system, such as Africa and India.

They have not reached our level yet. We only have 12 million voters. Why should we turn our system backwards when we have reached this level of technological advancement? The reason there is a push for the use of indelible ink is due to fear of double-voting, but we have an adequate system to handle voter identification and it is nearly impossible for people to register twice.

We only have one identification number, and one identification card. That is why we are seriously considering the biometric system.

(Source)

Yes, biometric is more high tech and with a comprehensive national identification system as the backbone, it makes a lot of sense to use biometrics instead of indelible ink. And yet, indelible ink seems to be the right option for Malaysia right now for simple reasons:-

1. It is cheap. Certainly it is cheaper than acquiring and configuring the biometric system (with huge commission paid to crony linked companies in disguise of maintenance and other matters?) and then spending time and resources on comprehensive testing to ensure it does not go down at the very crucial.

2. It is fail-proof. Being in the IT industry for “some time” now, one thing is clear to me – no system is bug free and if you screw up on your development and testing, the system will bite you back on your backside when you least expect it. Can you imagine the horrors when you and your family members go down to cast your votes and when they scan your fingers, the biometrics system returns a reply that your name is not in the list. Compare that with a simple indelible ink – all one need to do is to ensure it is tagged on the finger of those who have voted and the same person does not come back to vote for the second time.

The indelible ink was to be used in the last general election but EC withdraw it at the last minutes, citing “public order and security issues”. But then again, the use of biometrics system does not mean the shortcomings of having phantom votes will be resolved as well. Then there is a question of whether EC, despite proposing biometrics system in the first place, is really ready to implement them in the up-coming general elections. Have they done enough testing and prepared the necessary procedures and backups to ensure that the system is truly robust, hack-proof and works well?

Bersih chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan raised concerns whether the proposed biometric system could be implemented before the next general election, and also whether the system would rely on data from the National Registration Department (NRD).

The Election Commission (EC), she said, must furnish to the public more details on the biometric system before rushing to implement it.

“The EC must explain everything in full; will it be ready by GE13?

“The data has to also be of integrity; will it rely on data provided from the NRD? If the biometric system is tied to the NRD, and if the department cannot determine which voters are deceased, then this is a grave concern,” she said during a public forum here with EC deputy chairman Datuk Wira Wan Ahmad Wan Omar.

In response, Wan Ahmad said the biometric system would be the “best way” to solve the problems concerning the current electoral roll.

“Through fingerprint scans, no two persons will have the same biometry. When it is ready, the biometric system will be matched with 12 million registered voters,” he said.

But the EC deputy head was mum when asked by reporters later whether it could implement the new system by the next general election.

“Elections are up to when Parliament is dissolved… We can only speculate, but we don’t know when that is,” he told a news conference.

(Source)

Here lies the danger of still insisting for the biometrics system before the system is really ready for implementation. This is why the call for use of indelible ink is still valid. We cannot prolong the shortcomings in the election process (one that been admitted by the EC themselves). So why not use it until the biometrics system is really ready and fail-proof?

Parking Paranoia


Just a quickie on a Monday morning…

(With more people having cars, getting the right parking spot is fast becoming more crucial too. Image source: http://www.hoax-slayer.com/)

Call me paranoid but the last thing I want to do is to park my car somewhere far from the restaurant where I am having my dinner.

To recall back, I have lost count of giving amiss of good restaurants just because the nearby parking lots was full or the parking was far away or the available place to park simply looked too unsecured (read back lanes and dark alleys). Best restaurants ends up as restaurants with good parking spaces rather than restaurants with good food.

So problematic of me! And this usually does not go well with family and friends but then again, I do the same with temples and shopping malls. So, over time, they would have come accustomed to my peculiar preference of place of dining, worship or shopping.

The best, ideal situation would be where I can see my car directly from my dining table. So, if any suspicious characters start to linger near my car or if some idiot runs his car into mine, I could keep a close eye and act fast before my car is not broken into or before the idiot do a quick “hit and run”.

The next ideal situation would be where I park at secured, well maintained parking lots (hotels mainly come top of the list although parking lots at shopping malls has a lot to be desired – well maintained but poorly secured).

And there is no other choice but to park my car far from the restaurant, I would leave the fate of my car in the hands of the Al-Mighty and have a rather restless dinner. It could be just me – worrying for nothing and being suspicious of everything.