Qadaruddin Shishir

Guest Writer
Sylhet election survey: in search of a European-based research institute
This article is more than 10 months old

Sylhet election survey: in search of a European-based research institute

Qadaruddin Shishir

Guest Writer

A survey on the Sylhet City Corporation election was published in various media outlets between June 18 and June 20. One such report was published by the online media outlet ‘Sarabangla.net’ titled, “Boat can win in Sylhet by thousands of votes: Survey”.

The report mentioned a research institute called Social Engineering and Election Maneuvering Architecture (SEEMA) based in Europe, which claimed that the Awami League’s mayoral candidate had a significant advantage in the upcoming elections.

Multiple mainstream media outlets, including The Daily Star (English and Bangla editions), Dainik Samakal, Dainik Bangladesh Pratidin, Dainik Kalbela, Dainik Bhorer Kagoj, Dainik Amader Somoy, Dhaka Times, Local outlets such as Dainik Uttar Purbo, and Sadakalo News, also reported on this survey conducted by SEEMA, which was said to be a subsidiary of a European-based research institute called Wise GOV.

Reading the news in so many mainstream media sparked my interest in ‘Social Engineering and Election Maneuvering Architecture (SEEMA)’.

However, further investigation revealed that no information could be found about SEEMA or Wise GOV through search engines or social media platforms. Discrepancies were also found in the reports from different media outlets. The Bengali edition of The Daily Star identified the surveying organization as “Social Engineering and Election Maneuvering Architecture, a subsidiary of the European-based research institute Wise GOV.”

Attempts to find information about Wise GOV also proved unsuccessful. Two reporters from Sylhet confirmed that they did not send any news related to this survey from Sylhet itself, and the news was published from their Dhaka office. Inquiries were made at the Dhaka office, where they mentioned receiving a press release from an official of Wise Govt.

Upon obtaining a soft copy of the press release, it was discovered that it carried the signature of a person named S Shakir Uddin and included his contact information. Contact was established with S Shakir Uddin, who claimed to be one of the founders of Wise Govt, overseeing its operations.

Five questions were posed to Shakir Uddin:

1. What are the website addresses of SEEMA or Wise Govt?

2. In which country are these organisations registered, and who are their principals?

3. Who are the main researchers and analysts involved in the survey, among the hundred-plus people?

4. Can you share the original report of your survey?

5. What is your role in these organisations?

In response, He mentioned that Wise Govt was previously a project under inTeresa Association but had started functioning as a separate independent organization due to additional work. However, Wise Govt is not yet registered in the UK.

The domain interesa.org, mentioned in relation to inTeresa Association, was found to be registered on March 7, 2021, and renewed in April 2023.  The homepage of the website states that Interesa Association is a nursing care service provider based in Portugal. However, clicking on the tabs such as ‘About’, ‘Mission’, ‘Vision’, ‘Goals’, ‘Services’, and ‘Membership’ does not provide any information. The website appears to be a typical amateur company website.

According to S Shakir Uddin, Wise Govt collaborated with local individuals from Sylhet to conduct a pilot survey project for the mayoral election. This joint project is referred to as the ‘Sister Concern’ of Wise Govt and is called Social Engineering and Election Maneuvering Architecture (SEEMA). SEEMA does not have a website and is not an established organization.

Therefore, the claim that SEEMA is a European-based research organization, as reported by various Bangladeshi media outlets, is incorrect. Wise Govt does not have a track record as a research firm and is currently in the process of registration without a website.

When asked, S Shakir Uddin mentioned that the main survey report is a 4-page document sent as a press release to the media. The report is titled “Social Engineering and Election Maneuvering Architecture (SEEMA)” and suggests that the organization’s work is similar to that of a public relations agency.

Zahir Uddin, a lecturer at Begum Rokeya University, was mentioned as one of the individuals involved in the survey conducted by SEEMA. However, when contacted, Zahir Uddin stated that the four-page document served as their survey report and detailed information on the data collection and analysis methodology would be provided after the election.

The four-page document primarily functions as a press release and does not offer comprehensive information on the survey’s data collection and analysis methodology. It briefly mentions the use of methods such as snowball sampling, spot analysis, focus group discussions, observations, and surveys.

Qadaruddin Shishir

Qadruddin Shishir is a renowned factchecker in Bangladesh. He’s currently working as Bangladesh editor for AFP Factcheck.