Fuziah Salleh

Mendamba Politik Baru

Sidang Media: BERSIH

The Government must be held accountable for the public funds they used for the indelible ink which they have not given a concrete answer until now. One of my questions that will be answered in time is about this matter – what has been done about the ink and accountability of it. I will come back about the matter when my question is answered on the 26th May in Parliament by the Home Ministry.
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Photobucket Coalition For Clean And Fair Elections (BERSIH)
4A Jalan Sepadu, Taman United, Off Jalan Klang Lama, 58200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (03) 79806571 Fax: (03) 79802697 URL: http://www.bersih.org Email: info@bersih.org

Press Statement: 7 May 2008

The PM, DPM, EC Chairman and Secretary, Attorney-General and IGP must take the rap for their actions

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) is shocked and outraged at the written parliamentary reply of Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar to MP for Batu Gajah, Fong Po Kuan’s question regarding the investigations into the ‘ink smuggling’ allegations which was one of the reasons for the cancellation of indelible ink use in the 12th General Elections.

The Home Minister said:

Three investigations were conducted by the Commercial Crimes Unit under Section 420/511 under the Penal Code. The investigations were based on police reports lodged by several individuals who were concerned about the use of indelible ink as they said the ink was easily available in Thailand and that there would be abuse of the ink in the election.

After interviewing the persons who lodged the reports and witnesses, there was no proof that the ink had been smuggled into the country from Thailand. No one had seen the ink. Based on the witness’ testimony, the police were not able to identify any individual, syndicate or any parties involved in the matter. The reports were lodged based on hearsay and no one could be positively identified.

On 4 March, four days before polling day, the EC cancelled the use of indelible ink citing public order and security reasons, and that it was obliged to ensure the smooth running of the 12th General Election.

• Firstly, EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid said that provisions to the law [Election (Conduct of Election) Regulation 1981] were needed if the ink was to be used, and that the country’s Constitution allows those who have a mark on their finger or refuse to have their fingernail marked with the ink to still be issued with a ballot. He said there was a possibility that “misunderstandings as well as altercations and arguments could arise at polling stations”.

• Secondly, the police said it had received reports from four complainants in Kelantan (1), Kedah (1) and Perlis (2) between 16-21 February 2008, alleging that certain quarters had purchased indelible ink from Thailand with the intention of creating confusion and suspicion as to the status of voters. It was claimed that these parties were planning to mark the fingers of ignorant or unsuspecting of voters with the ink prior to polling day.

Also present at the same press conference were the Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail dan IGP Musa Hassan. Musa said that the statements were lodged by four self-employed traders aged between 30 and 50 and investigations showed that they could not dismiss claims of a plot to disrupt polling.

BERSIH would like to comment on two issues namely:

1. Provisions to Election (Conduct of Election) Regulation 1981
EC secretary Kamaruzaman appealed to Malaysians not to blame the EC for its U-turn, claiming it was unfortunate that the EC had ‘overlooked’ the law when it announced the indelible ink use. “It is so unlucky that this came about in the last few days before polling day, but, please, don’t blame the EC.”

Kamaruzaman’s statement on 6 March is totally unacceptable, as the EC was aware of the problem but took no action. BERSIH believes the EC deliberately failed to present the amendment to the said regulation to Parliament in its last session which lasted from late-August to December 2007.

The EC’s lack of urgency in the issue is glaring as the National Fatwa Council had consented to the use of indelible ink in early August 2007. If the EC had been serious and committed to the ink use in the first place, it should have advised the Prime Minister against requesting for parliamentary dissolution before such an amendment is made.

2. Cost and lifespan of the ink
In The Star on 22 Dec 2007, the EC chief said that the cost of the ink was RM1mil and there was no mention of the cost of implementation.

On 1 February 2008, it was reported that the EC said the ink would cost RM2.4mil and the whole procedure will take less than RM1mil to implement. The EC deputy chairman Wan Ahmad said that the ink evaporates very easily and had a very short shelf life because of its special chemical composition.

In early March, the EC had said it had bought 47,000 bottles of the indelible ink for RM2mil and did not mention the cost of implementation. Kamaruzaman said the EC would dispose of the ink through barter trade but did not say what the EC would be buying.

As the ink was purchased using taxpayers’ money, the EC owes the Malaysian public a proper explanation on what exactly it planned to do with the bottles of ink, as well as a breakdown of the cost.

It is strikingly clear that the EC wasn’t the only one party involved in the decision to cancel the ink plan.

The Prime Minister had accused the opposition of looking for excuses to use in the event they did badly in the elections, stating that the decision was not a ploy by the BN to cheat. The same stand was echoed by DPM Najib Tun Razak who said the move was ‘most appropriate’ and necessary in order to prevent the possibility of chaos or tension.

So ultimately, who was responsible for the decision to cancel the use of indelible ink – a move which has left a black mark on the Malaysian electoral system?

It is BERSIH’s view that all six parties — the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the EC Chairman and Secretary, the Attorney-General and the Inspector General of Police – owe the rakyat an explanation and every single one of them must be held responsible for the indelible ink fiasco.

* For enquiries, please contact BERSIH secretariat at (019) 2232002 or (012) 2192010.

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May 8, 2008 - Posted by | Politics

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