Indelible ink purchase: Textbook case for ACA

Sree Sudheesh | Aug 8, 08

I would like to expose an extreme financial irregularity in the purchase of indelible ink by the Malaysian government from India for purported use in the last general election.
It was reported that 48,000 bottles of indelible ink was bought from India at the cost of RM2.4million.
The ink would have been bought from Mysore Paints and Varnish Ltd which is the ONLY ink manufacturer in the whole of India which is authorised by the Election Commission of India to produce the indelible ink for use in elections.
In a report in the Indian national paper, The Hindu, dated Sept 11, 2007 the price for 35,000 bottles of 5ml vials which can mark 300 voters is stated as being Rs 15 lakhs (RM115,700). This puts the price of each 5ml bottle at RM3.30.
On Feb1, 2008, our Election Commission Deputy Chairperson Wan Ahmad Wan Omar was quoted as saying two bottles of ink are sufficient for 600 people. Hence it is clear that the bottles purchased by the Malaysian government are the very same 5ml ones.
At the above rate, the cost of 48,000 5ml bottles (enough for 14.4million voters) for the Malaysian election should be a mere RM158,400, a far cry from the RM2.4 million said to have spent by the Malaysian government.
Where has the money gone?
It could be the case that the rate at which the bottles are sold to foreign customers are higher than that to the Indian government.
On March 10, 2007, The Hindu published another report about the sale of 29,856 bottles or vials to Cambodia at the cost of Rs1.28 crore. (RM999,120). Here you can see how the price of each 5ml bottle had been marked up to RM33.4 per bottle.
While the mark up of 10 times the original price is itself questionable and open to underhand dealings between officials on both sides considering the position of both India (72) and Cambodia (164) on Transparency International’s 2007 Corruption Perception Index; even at this rate, 48,000 bottles should have cost the Malaysian government only RM1.6million.
There is substantial financial irregularity here (despite ignoring the inflated price of 10 times the original price the ink is sold for locally), involving hundreds of thousands of ringgit – approximately RM800,000 of Malaysian taxpayers’ money.
Where has this money gone? Who was in charge of the purchase?
Has this exorbitantly large sum of money been pocketed by government officials? Where are the 48,000 bottles of indelible ink now?
I call upon the ACA to fully investigate this mismanagement of public funds and make public their report.
It is shameful enough that after spending so much money, the indelible ink was not used in the last general election.
It is even more appalling to think that at a time when our economy is struggling, there might be corrupt individuals who are pocketing huge amounts of public funds and directing it into their personal bank accounts.
I hope the ACA and the authorities conduct a thorough investigation and audit of the above expenses at the soonest and bring to justice those who are guilty of corrupt practices.