If Umno Baru have nothing to fear and the Election Commission (EC) claims that it is independent, why were they afraid to use indelible ink in previous elections?
Both Umno Baru and the EC want to bury this indelible ink story quickly. Don’t let them. The use of the indelible ink is the single, most important factor that would have ensured the defeat of Umno Baru in the polls. Effective indelible ink will prevent people from voting multiple times.
Both the EC and Umno Baru have lied; if they claim to be fair and to have done nothing wrong, they should have a re-run of the election. Who has the RM7.1 million? Did we buy some of the most expensive food colouring in the world?
Gerrymandering and the other tricks which Umno Baru and the EC employ to cheat are effective up to a point, but with indelible ink, the police, the army, the illegal immigrants, the Umno Baru agents and the pseudo foreigners holding Malaysian ICs will not be able to cast their votes several times and so ensure a win for BN.
Both Umno Baru and the EC have, for successive general elections, prevaricated over the use of indelible ink, or found last-minute excuses not to use it. In GE13 they simply tampered with the product and told bare-faced lies about the ink.
In 2008, the use of indelible ink in GE12 was stopped at the last minute. At a forum on ‘Free and Fair Elections: Reality or Illusion?’ in Kota Baru in January 2012, the former EC chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman claimed that the EC was banned from using indelible ink in GE12 because it contravened Article 119 of the federal constitution.
PAS vice-president Husam Musa had challenged this and said that Abdul Rashid had announced on national television then, that the ban was for security concerns. Abdul Rashid had claimed that various people had obtained a similar ink and were using it to trick rural Malaysians into staining their fingers before voting.
Husam said: “This means that Rashid was made to lie to the people,” and added that in 2007, the Fatwa Council had approved the use of the ink.
Former minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz confessed that it was he who had prevented the use of the indelible ink prior to the 2008 general election.
He cited constitutional concerns and the worry that Muslims would be unable to perform the proper ablutions for prayers. He denied Husam’s claim that the Fatwa Council had endorsed the use of indelible ink in the 2008 general election.
Chronology of lies
Then, like now, Umno Baru and its puppets cannot come up with one single lie.
On April 30, 2013, a week before the May 5 elections, soldiers were allowed to cast their votes first. One soldier claimed that he was able to wash the ink off his fingers, six hours after he voted.
On May 1, complaints about the indelible ink prompted EC secretary Kamaruddin Mohamed Baria to say that tests had shown that fingers painted with ink from shaken bottles lasted longer than the ink from bottles which had not been shaken.
The following day, May 2, Kamaruddin dismissed reports that the ink was washable. He stressed that traces of the ink could be seen with a magnifying glass and that officers would be supplied with magnifying glass for checking the presence of ink.
Kamaruddin said his staff had found handling the indelible ink nerve-wracking and consequently failed to follow instructions on its proper use and application. He criticised the people who had complained about the washable ink as having ‘ill intentions’ towards the EC.
In an interview with the Straits Times of Singapore on May 12, EC chairperson Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof claimed that silver nitrate in the ink was dangerous, and that the Health Ministry had warned about the possible damage to kidneys and risk of cancer.
Meanwhile, a mainstream paper claimed on May 29 that several people had been harassed for lodging police reports on the indelible ink.
On June 6, Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam scotched Abdul Aziz’s claim and denied issuing a report about the harmful risks to health from silver nitrate.
On June 17, Abdul Aziz (left) then blamed God for the poor performance of the ink. The ink had been tested prior to GE13 and he said: “On the much-awaited day, the power of Allah is greater when the ink could disappear after being washed several times. Where is the mistake?” [sic]
On June 21, the EC vice-chairperson Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said a special internal team would be formed to discover if the ink had suffered from internal sabotage.
He said, “There are many forms of EC staff, and we do not know their intention. Hence, the need for an in-depth investigation to find the truth.
“Could the indelible ink not last long because of its quality or is it the fault of the EC officer who applied it or are there elements of sabotage? We are puzzled as to why the ink does not last long.”
On June 26, Shahidan Kassim (right), the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, said the ink was actually food colouring. He said, “No chemicals were used in the ink, they were instead replaced with food colouring ingredients which were approved.”
Shahidan declined to reveal the name of the company which had supplied the ink for “security reasons”.
Investigations by Rafizi Ramli, the MP for Pandan, revealed that the EC contract for the supply of the indelible ink had been given to a company owned by a Singaporean.
Rafizi alleged that the company had no experience in this line of work, nor did it have the necessary funds, and had been forced to obtain a loan, from a Kampang Baru businessman, for the RM7 million needed to purchase the ink.
Wan Ahmad told an online portal on June 26, that silver nitrate is not a chemical but a metal. He could not carry out his job at the EC responsibly and now aspires to be a chemist; but seems to have a dearth of knowledge as a chemist.
On June 27, the Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said that Malaysia is “not a Third World country” and so does not need indelible ink in its elections. He said that Parliament agreed to its use because “the opposition wanted it”.
Tengku Adnan is wrong. It was the rakyat who wanted the indelible ink as part of its clean and fair election demand. Ku Nan also claimed that chemicals in the ink were not good for the health of the people. He said, “The chemicals were reduced because the government cares for the people.”
We already know from Shahidan that there were no chemicals in the ink. So who is telling the truth?
By June 28, various NGOs were demanding details of the supplier of the ink.
Despite the lies and furore surrounding the indelible ink, Wan Ahmad said that the ink would be used in the Kuala Besut by-election in Terengganu.
Malaysia does not have a free press, an independent EC, judiciary or police force. Our civil service is corrupt and ineffective and we have no idea how our tax money is being spent.
In other words, politics in Malaysia are meaningless, although our leaders pat themselves on the back for having the “best democracy in the world”.
Allegations abound that since former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad won his first election, he has bribed or fudged the results of each election.
Successive BN governments have continued this practice of cheating and instead of the government of the day looking after our interests, Malaysian governance is like a lopsided game, where a handful of individuals fight for their own interests.
Rural and conservative voters are swayed by traditional values and stability. They are not convinced by personal freedom and liberal thoughts.
Democracy is dead in Malaysia. Umno-Baru leaders only use the concept of democracy as a tool to swindle the rakyat. Individuals in BN use democracy to increase their personal profit and enhance the party’s dominance, which is not unlike the politburo of the Chinese Communist Party who enjoyed benefits which were denied to the rest of the country.
Indelible ink, which will last for more than a week, will restore democracy to Malaysia and smite the foes of the rakyat.
[Article by Mariam Mokhtar]