Use indelible ink for by-election

Athi Veeranggan | Aug 6, 08 5:41pm (Malaysiakini)
Politicians and social activists want the long promised indelible ink to be used for the Aug 26 by-election in Permatang Pauh. It is left to the Election Commission (EC) to oblige.
DAP Penang vice-chairman Lim Hock Seng said the by-election would be a good trial run for the ink – and then on for all future elections.
“It would subdue vote-rigging allegations like double voting and phantom voting,” he told Malaysiakini today.
PKR Penang committee member Cheah Kah Peng concurred and said the by-election can be the commission’s vehicle to project itself as an “independent and democratic” body.
He feels the ink can reduce public apprehension that the Barisan Nasional would employ devious means to secure a win in the crucial parliamentary seat polls.
“It would restore public confidence in the EC and the balloting process,” he added.
The EC were set to use the ink for the General Elections in March – where the index fingers’ of voters are marked when they vote, which rules out double voting.
However the initial plan was not to make ink marks mandatory, but rather optional. The government spent about RM2.4 million to buy the ink from an accredited Mysore-based company in India.
Days before polling EC chief Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman, Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail and Inspector General of Police Musa Hassan told the country that the ink will not be used at all.
The trio claimed the process was compromised after four were arrested – two in Perlis and one each in Kedah and Kelantan – for smuggling indelible ink and possibly attempting electoral fraud.
Establish independence
Malaysian Voters Union coordinator BK Ong said the by-election offers a chance to EC to establish their independence from the BN.
“EC should prove itself independent by conducting free and fair electoral process, not merely by fixing nomination and election dates.
“More importantly, it must be seen conducting free and fair elections,” he said, adding that it was a shame that the EC’s integrity and autonomy was in doubt after 51 years and 12 General Elections.
Election watchdog, Malaysians for Free and Fair Election (Mafrel) volunteer Stanley Sudhagaran agreed that the ink would reduce phantom voters and multiple voters, and that Permatang Pauh should be the test area for it.
“By the next election, election officials and voters would not be confused by it,” he said.
EC’s latest roll shows 57,969 registered voters eligible to vote – including 490 postal voters – for the Penang seat. Nomination day is Saturday, Aug 16.
The by-election follows the resignation of PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail from her seat last week, to allow her husband and Pakatan Rakyat de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim to contest.
BN has yet to decide on its candidate although Permatang Pauh Umno division has unanimously proposed its chairperson Abdul Jalil Abdul Majid.