Inaccurate Information Inundates ADUN’s Office

I write this at the end of an exhausting and unproductive week mainly because it was an entire weekend of fire fighting, leaving no time for real work. No, the water cuts over the weekend were easier to manage than what transpired during the week. The ordeal that started on Monday, and which lasted until Friday started with a message that goes like this:

“Calling all Selangorians. If you are 60 and above n IC stated Selangor address, pls register at any Selangor Dap office so that on your birthday month you will get rm100 shopping vouchers. Pls spread the words around for Selangorians only.”

Sounds familiar? What appeared to be an innocent message to inform the public about a Selangor State programme in reality debilitated the office of all Selangor State Representatives from the Democratic Action Party (DAP).

The truth is that this message is largely inaccurate.

The facts are these. Residents that fulfil the necessary requirements could register at the ADUN’s Service Centre where they are a voter or where they reside. It was wholly inaccurate to say that one can register at ‘any Selangor DAP office’. In fact, mattered not whether the ADUN in their area are from DAP, PKR, Bersatu or Amanah. This inaccuracy meant that many from other Selangor state seats travelled far just to seek out a DAP office. Also, not all ‘DAP offices’ are authorised to take in registration for State Programmes. Only ADUN offices are. The DAP party branch office at USJ19 was also flooded with inquiries about the aforesaid programme, although they were not authorised to take in registrations.

Further, the message was inaccurate in saying that one would qualify if his/her Identity Card (IC) bears a Selangor address. That one’s IC bears a Selangor address is insufficient. In the past, we found out that residents of states outside Selangor changed their IC address in order to try to qualify for programmes. They never lived in Selangor, they were not born in Selangor. It was because of this and because we took the view that tax from Selangorians should return to Selangorians that the state decided to tighten the process. In order to qualify, the centre number in your IC must bear the number ’10’, denoting that you were born in Selangor. In the alternative, you must prove that you have lived in Selangor for 15 years by producing proof such as your home Sale and Purchase Agreement, Land Title, old utility bills, marriage certificate from the Selangor National Registration Department, children’s birth certificate, bank book with a Selangor address etc. In the event you do not have these documents, you may take an oath with a Commissioner of Oath to state the duration that you have lived in Selangor.

Some have lamented that this additional process is burdensome. The fact is that we are handling the people’s money, and we must therefore be vigilant. This is not free money for everyone. If one needs to qualify before becoming a recipient, the task before us is to ensure that they fulfil the requirements. Failure to do so would mean that the recipient did not legitimately qualify and can therefore be reported to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

In addition, the message does not state that if one has already registered for the Skim Mesra Usia Emas (SMUE) programme in the past, they need not re-register for this programme. Failure to state these facts meant that many who visited my office did so unnecessarily.

Let me tell you the effect of this one message on my office – we now have over hundreds of old folks visiting our office every day. My 3 front staff is so overwhelmed that they were unable to take calls. We had to rearrange our resources to place one person in charge of picking up the phone. When we did, we had new calls every two minutes! Some residents have even emailed me to say that they cannot get through because the line is constantly engaged!

This state of affairs is alarming. Not so much because of the workload – yes the backlog is huge as a result of the large influx of inquiries, but what is more worrying is how we spread and digest information.

My advice is this – do not craft inaccurate messages. If you wish to spread good news, share a link from a legitimate source such as a government website or an ADUN’s Facebook page. If you are a recipient of such news – please do not fall for it instantaneously. Check the information against legitimate third party sources.

In an age of social media and instant messaging, misinformation is real. We must therefore bear the burden of double and triple checking. Otherwise, we would be met with frustration. Not just for the recipient of the message but for third parties as well, in this case, officers in DAP offices across Selangor.