EC's fragile reputation suffers another blow

Chan Kok Leong | Mar 5, 08

Election Commission secretary Kamaruzaman Mohd Noor was once again put on the defensive over the Commission’s late change of heart pertaining the use of indelible ink.
Yesterday, EC chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman has announced that indelible ink would not be used in the 12th general election.
He told the press that EC had finally decided not to use the ink in consideration of legal issues and to maintain the smooth running of the elections come Saturday.
Citing the need for a constitutional amendment to use the ink (an issue raised by opposition parties earlier but was brushed aside) and the suspicion that certain quarters had also purchased indelible ink with the intention of causing confusion during the elections, Abdul Rashid said they decided against using the ink.
The EC chairperson said that some people had bought the ink with the intention of using it to mark unsuspecting voters before they cast their ballot, to cause chaos.
Asked to comment on the commission’s latest retraction and how it would affect EC’s already fragile reputation, Kamaruzaman could only say, “It’s very unfortunate. We had all intended to use the ink until this matter (police report) came up.”
“I received my instructions at 1pm and I then rushed out a press statement by 2.30pm,” said Kamaruzaman.
Questioned on the validity of the alleged sabotage, he said, “EC is convinced that it is an issue and if you want to know more you’ll have to ask the police.”
As for the RM2.4 million worth of ink, EC will “barter trade” it off to countries which use it.
On a separate matter, Kamaruzaman warned political parties from stopping voters from exercising their constitutional right.
Don’t stop voters
In the past, buses ferrying voters to polling stations were stopped on polling day by opposition parties claiming they were phantom voters.
“There are no phantom voters. Never have, never will,” he said confidently.
“From compiling the electoral roll to counting the ballot papers the whole process is transparent. During each stage of the voting and counting process, agents appointed by the respective candidates, are also allowed to watch, check and monitor the situation. How can rigging take place under such circumstances?” he asked.
However, he admitted that there were some irregularities pertaining to “dead people” and people who have not registered but were on the electoral roll.
He cited the case of the Ijok by-election where certain parties were compiling their own ‘electoral roll’.
“They struck off names from the official list, claiming they were dead. But on election day, those people turned up to vote. So how could we deny them their right.”
Of the 199 cases of ‘dead voters’ EC has investigated, only two turned out to be true, said Kamaruzaman.
In the case of “unregistered” voters appearing on the roll and voters placed in different areas, he said that prior to July 16, 2002, EC was not online with the National Registration Department.
“Before linking up to NRD, political parties were allowed to register and change the addresses of the voters.”
“However, this had led to certain unscrupulous party workers changing voters’ addresses to suit their own agenda. They would also register people after getting their IC details and signed on their behalf,” he charged.