Editorial: Smear campaign

NST: 6 March 2008
The level-headed masses of the electorate (who we must assume are somewhere sensibly above and beyond the sound and fury of political gamesmanship in these last days before polling in the country’s 12th general election) would find it sadly plausible that someone would try to be clever with election day innovations such as indelible ink.
The police received four separate reports of indelible ink being illicitly procured in certain northern regions of the peninsula, apparently to hoodwink innocent ignoramuses into thinking they had to have this mark on their hands before going to vote this Saturday. The general success of con artists among gullible Malaysians makes this, too, sadly plausible.
Anticipating the awful confusions and conflicts such mischief would cause at the polling stations, the Election Commission has scrapped the entire idea of daubing voters with indelible ink.
It was not a great idea to begin with. Along with transparent polycarbonate ballot boxes, indelible ink was the EC’s sop to criticism of the electoral process in this country as not being transparent, free and fair. See-through ballot boxes are one way to circumvent ballot-stuffing; indelible ink was to prevent repeat voting.
But no one other than those now under investigation for the ink scam might have been devious enough to figure out how to subvert this innovation for the purpose of denying some haplessly ill-informed voters their right to vote in the first place.
Along with the late-breaking concerns over the unconstitutionality of the measure, not to mention the quirkily unexpected need to inform female voters to clean their fingernails of polish for the day, the indelible-ink idea has raised more problems than it might have solved. Let it be done away with.
After what the EC, in particular its chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Rahman, has had to endure of oppositionist condemnation recently, this could not have been an easy decision. Predictably, the opposition and its cohort of sundry anti-establishmentarians are baying outrage, ever more unconscionably asserting collusion between the EC and the Barisan Nasional to subvert the integrity of these elections.
But withdrawing what had never been implemented is no loss nor detraction. Come next Sunday morning, the voters will have delivered their verdict on this as much as all the other issues and contentions that have swarmed about these elections. Theirs will be the only opinions, judgments and verdicts that matter.
The only marks that count will be those they themselves make on their ballot papers.