Post Number: 423
Best of Black Box?
Votes: 19 (A keeper?)
|Posted on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 12:43 pm: ||
by Bev Harris & Kathleen Wynne
Black Box Voting has been looking into the situation in Los Angeles, where a private deal has been cooking with Diebold behind the scenes for a customized GEMS tabulator. Los Angeles uses an unusual voting system, the InkaVote, and the InkaVote is the subject of this article.
WHO OWNS INKAVOTE? It is now marketed under the name "Unisyn," an entity set up by parent company International Lottery and Totalizator Systems (ILTS). A politically-connected Malaysian gambling outfit owns ILTS. According to SEC filings, Berjaya Lottery Management -- a gaming subsidiary of Berjaya Group Berhad, located in Malaysia -- owns 71% of the voting stock in ILTS, the company that makes InkaVote.
InkaVote's parent, Berjaya Group is controlled by Vincent Tan Chee Yioun, a crony of Mahathir Mohamad, who was Malaysian prime minister until 2003. Mahathir's government was denounced for human-rights abuses and corporate corruption.
When Mahathir Mohamad retired two years ago, he was succeeded by the man who rushed to his side at the retirement, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, of the same party. The shareholders of Berjaya Group, the parent of InkaVote, reportedly include Mokhzani Mahathir, son of Malaysian strongman Mahathir Mohamad.
From the Berjaya Group Berhad Annual Report to Stock Shareholders, 1994: "The Berjaya Group is a large, diversified conglomerate, including seven public and about 200 private companies."
Berjaya is frequently criticized by environmental groups for its exploitation of ecologically sensitive forestlands. Berjaya has acquired massive forested areas in Canada, South America, the Amazon, and Asia. Berjaya is also heavily invested in gambling outfits and resorts.
Directors of Berjaya include Danny Tan Chee Sing, one of a small group of Chinese capitalists closely associated with Malay politicians, and Jaffar Bin Abdul, the former Inspector General of Police.
Tony Yeong, Managing Director of Berjaya Group (Cayman), resigned over allegations of an attempt to bribe the Solomon Islands' Commerce, Employment and Trade Minister. Yeong insisted it was an accepted practice for a company such as Berjaya to show its appreciation to those in government who assisted the company.
How did Berjaya get so big, so quickly?
When Mahathir Mohamad was appointed Prime Minister in 1981, he began nurturing a selected group of cronies into corporate power, using loans from government-controlled banks.
Mahathir ran into opposition from the Malaysian cabinet, so he concentrated power into his own Prime Minister's office. He appointed a businessman and close ally, Daim Zainuddin, as finance minister. Together they pumped steroids into the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (KLSE) as an avenue to create conglomerates.
Mahathir then distributed government-created concessions to a select group of cronies. By 1997, almost all of Malaysia’s leading corporations were controlled by people connected to powerful politicians in Malaysia. Corporate moguls close to the prime minister included his sons, Mirzan and Mokhzani Mahathir.
Mahathir didn't exactly develop local entrepreneurs. Most of the newly powerful businessmen in Malaysia were Chinese, not Malay. In 2001, according to one study of the wealthiest business people in Malaysia, nine of the top 10 wealthiest corporate figures (and 16 of the top 20) were ethnic Chinese.
These non-Malay businessmen included Vincent Tan Chee Yioun, who controls the InkaVote parent Berjaya Group.
Mahathir's government selected the “winners” for privatized contracts in a non-transparent manner, and accorded them numerous concessions to facilitate their rapid expansion. (To those of you in the voting integrity movement: Sound familiar?)
Back to Los Angeles...
The InkaVote counts six million California votes, and has been after Illinois votes as well, trying to get its system into Kane County.
Putting the votes of four million people into the hands of secret vote-counting software owned by a Malaysian gambling company run by businessmen from China and tied to a human-rights-abusing strongman prime minister (recently retired) -- well that reminds us of another curiousity in the voting business.
In Chapter 8 of the Black Box Voting book (http://www.blackboxvoting.org/bbv_chapter-8.pdf) you'll read about Election.com, when it was owned by unnamed Saudi investors through a group headquartered in the Cayman Islands. This entity was awarded a portion of the contract for military voting in the U.S., by the Pentagon. Very soon after Accenture aquired Election.com, as Accenture also aquired the Pentagon contract for SERVE. (Internet voting) That project was derailed thanks to the help of U.S. computer scientists like Dr. Barbara Simon.
What happens to InkaVote if the Malaysian government undergoes a change of power?
This might seem like an esoteric question, were it not for the precedent already set in Malaysia when politicians fall out of favor.
The rise of key Chinese businessmen in Malaysian corporations was linked to influential politicians. It turns out that what happens to the corporations depends on whether their patrons remain in power.
After Anwar was removed from office in September 1998, allowing Mahathir to concentrate even more power in the office of the prime minister, businessmen associated with Anwar had a fight on their hands to protect corporate interests.
When Daim fell out of favour with Mahathir in 2001, the government simply took over corporate assets owned by Daim's buddies.
Anwar and Daim had exercised significant indirect control over important corporate enterprises. Then Mahathir marginalized their political power, and the vast corporate assets owned by their cronies were re-allocated to government institutions or other individuals. The fall of the Anwar-linked corporate crony T.K. Lim, indicates that is it not too difficult for the Malaysian government to remove corporate assets at will.
The Malaysian prime minister, it seems, can control how corporate assets are handled.
So here's a problem: The InkaVote system, used by Angelinos to vote, is actually a corporate asset belonging to just such a politically-dependent Malaysian entity. Malaysia is also one of the top investigation targets for international terrorism.
What's coming this week:
- Source documents related to Los Angeles voting systems will be uploaded in the Black Box Voting Document Archive. Included in the documents are SEC documents indicating that InkaVote is designed using Linux, and to do "real-time" tabulation of votes cast. (uh ... exactly what does THAT mean?) One of the principals of Berjaya is also involved in satellite wireless communications.
- Watch for information on Los Angeles' secret Diebold deals
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Black Box Voting recommends a spending moratorium on new voting systems and components until multiple problems with election system design and integrity are addressed.