Elections Commission dismisses concerns of JP, PPM over use of Indian IT staff

The Elections Commission (EC) has dismissed fears foreign nationals will have access to the country’s voter database for upcoming polling, as it seeks assistance from Indian IT professionals to set up software to help oversee future council elections.

EC President Fuwad Thowfeek said he had met this week met with a “combined team” representing the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Jumhoree Party (JP) to dismissed their fears that foreign IT workers would be given access to information related to next month’s scheduled election.

“We explained to them that the Indian team would not be working on systems being used for the upcoming presidential election. They will instead be providing assistance to help develop a program for future elections,” he said.

Local media reported today that the PPM and JP had challenged the possibility of holding free and fair elections scheduled for September 7 this year if foreigners could access the electoral database and other systems.

However the EC has moved to dismiss any fears, adding that it only local EC staff had access to sensitive information and the commission’s security systems.

Despite having initially sought local IT professionals for the project, Thowfeek said it had not been possible to find Maldivians with either the programming skills required for the project, or those willing to work within the budget assigned for the project.

“Firms presently operating in Male’ demanded much higher rates to oversee the project,” he added.

Thowfeek said he was surprised by the concerns of the government-aligned parties, given the large number of state bodies and institutions dependent on foreign expertise and assistance.

“This would not be the first time the EC or the government has accepted assistance from friendly nations. For instance the defence ministry has been getting assistance from the US, while police are given a wide variety of training from numerous international bodies,” he said.

“There is no reason why political parties should be worried [about foreign nationals being given access to EC data]. We are fully committed to free elections and remain answerable to the parliament. We will oversee this election with caution and confidence.”

The government is presently considering introducing a border control system provided free of charge by the US government, after this week terminating a contract signed in 2010 with Malaysia-based IT group Nexbis to install similar technology.

Thowfeek added that the EC had traditionally enjoyed a close relationship with its Indian counterpart, particularly for training of its staff abroad on overseeing electoral processes. He said a total of 20 Maldivian staff had received training last year relating to good practice in overseeing voting.

Both the Indian Elections Commission, as well as observers from several EU and Commonwealth nations will be coming to the Maldives to oversee next month’s vote.

“Complex” council elections

According to Thowfeek, the Indian programmers brought over to the Maldives to work with the EC had been hired specifically to develop a computerised system to help monitor future atoll and island council elections.

He said that with some 190 separate island constituencies, two city councils and 20 individual atoll councils, previous voting had presented complex challenges for the EC to overcome – despite the polls seen as credible by observers and local parties.

Based on the EC’s experience of overseeing the last council elections in February 2011, Thowfeek said it would be preferable to commence work on a computer system that could identify the exact number of ballot papers for each specific constituency around the Maldives.

“There are over 200 ballot papers required during a council election, so we are looking for a system that can send the appropriate data [to these islands],” he said.

The proposed system is expected to allow registered Maldives nationals to vote for the council of their respective home island from anywhere in the country, without the need to return to that particular constituency to vote.”

Party concerns

The EC has sought to reassure concerns from assorted political parties this week over the credibility of the upcoming polls.

On Monday (August 5), the EC rejected any possibility that the identities of deceased citizens could be used to fraudulently vote in the upcoming election, after opposition allegations that security forces were seeking to influence polling by misusing such data.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has continued to accuse both the government and senior police officials of trying to undermine free and fair elections, accusing police of actively seeking deceased lists detailing the country’s deceased in an attempts to try and rig voting.

Police later rejected the allegations, with the EC stating that it would not be possible to vote using details of the deceased.

Meanwhile late last month the EC rejected calls by the PPM to make voter registration more “lenient”, with Thowfeek claiming efforts were being stepped up to prevent voter registry fraud, while also dealing with challenges that arose during the country’s first multi-party election in 2008.

“We have worked to rectify these mistakes and in the last council elections there were hardly any complaints raised with us by political parties,” he said at the time. “More than that, we have worked hard this year to get the registry up to date.”


16 thoughts on “Elections Commission dismisses concerns of JP, PPM over use of Indian IT staff”

  1. ha ha bloody ha ha.....I laughed so loud reading this I almost wet myself.
    Without Indian IT professionals you are buggered aren't you poppets?
    We run your health service, we run your education service and now you cannot hold your elections without help from us 'cow worshippers'.
    To prove I bear no malice against you mentally challenged people let me wish you all EID MUBARAK.....I guess its not your fault if allah made you islanders short, fat and dim.

  2. "Thowfeek said it had not been possible to find Maldivians with either the programming skills required for the project, or those willing to work within the budget assigned for the project.

    “Firms presently operating in Male’ demanded much higher rates to oversee the project,” he added."

    There lies the problem. We can never compete with Indians or Bangladeshis on "rates". There are over a billion of them and they are cheap! The solution is not to settle for the lowest rate, but consider national interest.

    If, programming skills are really lacking in Maldivians, then that's a great concern. Setting up Islamic Universities and Quran centres isn't going to solve this problem as some senior politicians are emphasizing. We need to enhance home grown talent.

    Equally, at a national level, we should always give priority to local talent, even though it may be more expensive. The money you pay into a local company stays local. Moreover, that comes back as taxation income (at some point), and the wages paid by local companies to local staff spur the local economy. Why can't people like Thowfeeq get this? This is insane.

  3. Seriously, the only thing good about Indian IT is that it's cheap! Nothing more.

  4. Well, there there. We just found the best excuse possible to blame in case we lose the election. It is because those Indians rigged the process.

  5. @Ahmed - That's true. That's why Indian IT companies have a market revenue of over a USD100 billion, export earnings of around USD60 billion and provides jobs to nearly 12 million people. If we can get this with giving cheap labour, I will take that any day. BTW this excludes all those Indians who work for non-Indian IT companies. Be my guest and get service from costlier American or British company, 99% chances are they will outsource that back to an Indian company

  6. @Virendra on Thu, 8th Aug 2013 9:36 PM

    "...provides jobs to nearly 12 million people."

    Like I said, dealing with quantities in India is like Zimbabwe dollar exchange rates. You have over a billion people, and by the number above, you are saying IT provide employment to 1% of them.

    It's a bit like this. We have Bangladeshis, Indians etc here to do all the dirty jobs the locals won't do and there's quite a lot of it too. These labourers earn and do export a lot of money.

    It's the same with Indian IT. All those menial and mediocre jobs that no one in the West would do are dumped on Indians and there are quite a lot menial jobs and a lot of Indians. Perfect match!

  7. For a population of 400,000 one should expect to have few in the skilled technical pool, and this raises demand, and thus the prices. Thowfeek settle for less, but I think this is half the story.

    Another way to analyse this situation is this way. Since Indian companies has a wider scope to work on they would have experience in the field and ready made code chunks that would tremendously reduce the Project cost. That is how specialized IT firms work to maximize their profit.

    Therefore this allows them to give the end product at a faster deadline with less man hours with a lower a much more competitive pricing. In this globalized world where the benevolent invisible hand of Adam Smith (In this case Thowfeek, hey It works in weird ways huh) worked it becomes extremely difficult for small firms and start-ups to get into a niche specialized industry. (wonder if Adam smith foresaw this).

  8. When I said Thowfeek I meant as a proxy for a budget constrained government department.

    btw why is his name spelled as such, is it the way he spells it, because the normal Dhivehi way to spell the name in Latin alphabet is Thaufeeq

  9. @ Ahmed Bin Whatever
    Maldivians don't have the programming skills, infrastructure, equipment or brains to carry out the election exercise.....best to accept this and shut up.
    It is for more or less the same reasons that you are so dependent on overseas doctors and teachers.....you have no skills.
    I suggest you google 'INDIAN SOFTWARE EXPORTS IN 2012' and ascertain the facts.....be prepared to be shocked by the reality.
    Like I said before.....short, fat and dim islanders.....the operative word being DIM.

  10. I applied for the same job at Elections. I was happy with the pay. I have no idea what happened to my job application. Fuad - you are a liar! - S

  11. @MissIndia NewDelhi on Fri, 9th Aug 2013 6:24 AM

    "... brains to carry out the election exercise…..best to accept this and shut up."

    I would normally refrain coming down to the level of people like you. Minivan Editorial staff should really have a more stringent policy on moderating the content of these comments as well.

    Hiding behind an anonymous nickname on the internet and slandering is a no brainer. Any dog can do that.

    For the record, I am well aware of the level and skill of Indian IT workers; I've seen it at very close range. Any half decent Indian IT guy will try his damned hardest to get out of India and go somewhere else. Those that are stuck in India are awaiting their turn to do the same. This is reality and not a fictitious scenario.

    Like I said, I won't be dragged down to your level, and I assure you that any comments you make on Minivan won't be read by me. It's high time Minivan looked at their moderation policy.

  12. You would expect SOME SKILLS in a population of 350,000 people but this seems not to be the case. You seem to have a population of 350,000 feeble minded morons. I bet if I looked into the earhole of a Maldivian, I would see daylight at the other end!!
    A lot of unskilled work is no doubt done by Indians and Bangladeshis in Maldives but a disproportionately large amount of skilled work is also done by Indians.....where are the Maldivian trained doctors and teachers?
    The next time you go to the IGMH.....paid for by my infidel taxes.....do check out the names of the top consultants.
    Your arrogance, sense of superiority and bravado is misplaced.
    You people are dim.....period.

  13. @missindia

    You crack me up, I love your comments for the humour value. It's doubly funny that you sound like those close minded radical Maldivians who thinks the sun shines out of their as..., who your profess to hate so much. Keep those comments comming

  14. @Ahmed Bin Addu Bin Suvadheeb

    Yes, IT provides employment to around 1% of total Indian population only. And that is obvious, because we need more people in agriculture, manufacturing, mining and other services which are more labour intensive. I don't think any economy can progress by just using IT or any such white collared job. India is too big to survive with just one kind of industry.
    And just because the most Indian IT is into outsourcing, you think it is menial or trivial job? And even if a job is menial, so what? It is still better than not doing anything or taking up crime or terrorism. Guess that is the lesson you guys need to heed.


Comments are closed.