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Pretense of Indelible Inkage Dropped

Shock reversal: Indelible ink plan erased

The Election Commission has cancelled the use of indelible ink for this general election, citing public order and security issues.

The stunning announcement was made at a press conference in Putrajaya this afternoon – four days before polling.

EC chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said the commission was obliged to make a “firm and final decision to ensure the smooth conduct of the 12th general election”.

“Following legal advice and looking at the issue of public order and security, the EC… has decided not… to introduce the use of indelible ink,” he said.

“The EC views these issues seriously, as the election process and public order and security cannot be compromised,” he added. “The EC deeply regrets its decision.”

Abdul Rashid said the use of indelible ink would not be effective as the country’s constitution allows those who refuse to have their fingernail marked with the ink to still be issued with a ballot.

He added that the use of the indelible ink could infringe the constitutional right of a voter to cast his vote, especially if the commission tries to bar someone from voting for having an ink marked in his finger.

“From a practical point of view, the issuance of a ballot paper to such a voter would render the EC’s proposal meaningless and will not bring about a positive result, whilst having the potential to create misunderstanding as well as altercations and arguments at polling stations,” he said.

He added that the Federal Constitution gives Malaysians the right to vote and a black mark on the fingernail should not bar people from exercising this right, he said.

The loophole can only be removed with a constitutional amendment, which requires a vote by parliament, which has been dissolved for elections to take place.

Also present at the press conference were attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail dan inspector general of police Musa Hassan.

– quoted from an article published in Malaysiakini on 4th March 2008 (link)

So its official, indelible ink will not be used in the elections. What is the big deal really? It was useless to begin with! Since it was not legally enforceable, people still had the freedom to cheat the system and vote twice.

The presence of the ink would only lead to rumours that the EC had ‘introduced another measure to protect against voter fraud’, so its official removal from the process is a good thing. Because it would have been a lie – its an incomplete measure, a waste of time and money. Rashid could have avoided mentioning the ‘issue of public order and security’ as an excuse though, what unnecessary nonsense.

Don’t misunderstand me though, I do want indelible ink, whole finger dipped in (not this thin line on fingernail nonsense). But it was quite clear a month ago that it wasn’t going to happen.

Reactions I found confusing

All quotes taken from Malaysiakini (link)

In an immediate reaction, PKR’s deputy president Dr Syed Husin Ali did not mince his words when he charged that the cancellation of the use of indelible ink was clear proof that the “EC is colluding with BN to allow cheating in the coming general elections”.

The lack of enforceability, not cancellation was the clear proof.

Meanwhile PAS leader and member of Bersih’s steering committee Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad also similarly expressed his outraged with EC’s stunning reversal today.

“This means that none of our demands are getting through. We thought it would at least go through with (using indelible ink),” said the director of PAS Research Centre.

The demand never went through to begin with.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng also said that the decision today would only benefit BN as it amounted to the EC sanctioning the ruling party’s “cheating and abuses” in the election.

He said that the EC must also explain as to how the use of indelible ink can threaten public order and security issues.

“It is ridiculous that the use of indelible ink can put the whole country into chaos and ruination,” he said.

He also said that the decision to cancel the use of indelible ink meant that the EC was wasting the RM2 million spent on buying 47,000 bottles of indelible ink.

The bottles of ‘optional to use’ ink was definitely wasted even before today’s news.

Update (6th March) : It occurred to me that the Opposition and NGOs may have been waiting for the EC to issue a directive making the indelible ink legal. I’m not sure how that would happen since an Act would need to be amended, but at least I understand their rage now.

Elections #5
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Written by ak57

March 5, 2008 at 6:27 am

Posted in Local News, Malaysian Elections, Politics

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