RM2.4 million gone up in smoke!

In a reply to a question by Senator Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Liew Vui Keong said that the indelible ink meant for use in the 12th general election in March 2008 had been destroyed via a burning process on 25 November 2009.

It is precisely these sorts of decisions made by the Government that continue to upset, disgust and disillusion Malaysians, who had hoped that the March 2008 political tsunami would have ‘encouraged’ the Government to stop treating taxpayers with contempt and disregard matters of public accountability and good governance.

Taxpayers’ money had been used to procure the indelible ink from India for a reputed RM2.4 million prior to the 2008 elections but the decision to use the ink on voters was cancelled on 4 March 2008, four days before polling day.

Malaysians were told by the Election Commission that (1) the measure had not been gazetted and therefore could have legal implications on a citizen’s right to vote; and (2) there were reports that certain ‘unscrupulous’ people had smuggled in indelible ink in order to create chaos on polling day.

The flimsy excuses were slammed by all opposition parties (as well as MCA), civil society organizations, electoral reform pressure group BERSIH and election watchdog MAFREL.

The reasons given, particularly the ‘legal’ problem, was completely inexcusable as the idea for using indelible ink had been mooted in August 2007 at the start of that parliamentary session.

The EC could have submitted the amendment to the relevant by-law, the Elections (Conduct of Elections) Regulations 1981, to Parliament during its session from August to December (2007), clearing all legal and security concerns.

As a result of the cancellation of the ink move, EC secretary Datuk Kamaruzaman Mohd Noor had stated that the EC would dispose of the indelible ink through barter trade with other countries who used indelible ink in their elections. He, however, did not say what it would be traded for.

Malaysians have a right to know what proactive and urgent measures were taken by the EC to secure a buyer for the indelible ink after the March 2008 election. The lack of responsibility and transparency displayed by the Government and the EC in this matter is shocking and as taxpayers’ money was used to procure the ink, we deserve to know what efforts were made by the EC to ‘barter’ the ink between March 2008 and now.

* Indelible ink has been used effectively in countries like Indonesia, India, Philippines, Mali, Africa, Nigeria, Turkey and Afghanistan, to prevent multiple voting and voter impersonation.

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