SINGAPORE : Voters are asking why the Elections Department distributed their Identity Card (IC) numbers to the various political parties.
This issue came up after the Workers' Party distributed their pamphlets to residents in Joo Chiat with their IC numbers printed on the envelope.
Many residents in Joo Chiat are worried. They want to know why the Workers' Party had their NRIC numbers printed so prominently with no regard for confidentiality.
One resident asked: "It's a personal identity number, how can it be displayed on an envelope and distributed out? What happened if the envelope is in someone else's house? They can be distributed wrongly."
Dr Tan Bin Seng, Workers' Party candidate for Joo Chiat, says he received the information from the Elections Department's Registers of Electors.
In a telephone conversation, Dr Tan says: "The PAP also did the same thing. PAP did that before."
When contacted, PAP says it does not print resident's NRIC numbers on most of its publicity materials.
Recently, the government had moved to tighten disclosure rules amid growing concerns about identity theft.
Local media, for example, are not allowed to publish IC numbers in full in their advertisements since last September.
So the question is - why did the Elections Department have to give out the NRIC numbers of voters?
One voter asked: "The Elections Department shouldn't have given the number to any of the party, whether it's PAP or Workers' Party."
Another voter said: "The NRIC there doesn't help anything, if they just need to dispatch the envelope to us, they don't need the IC number at all on the mailer."
In response to Channel NewsAsia, the Elections Department says the NRIC numbers are given out to political parties as an assurance that the electors are genuine persons.
The Registers of Electors may be purchased by political parties and aspiring candidates to facilitate their communication with registered electors.
Those found guilty of mishandling the information are liable to a $1,000 fine or imprisonment of up to six months, or both.
The Registers of Electors must contain the NRIC numbers, as an assurance that the electors are genuine persons.
The Elections Department will be investigating the feedback from voters on the use of their NRIC numbers. - CNA/de
1 May 2006
By Pearl Forss, Channel NewsAsia