UPDATED 10 July 2013
Today, the EC has stated (read here) that for the 24 July by-election for Kuala Besut, all voters are to dip their left index finger into the indelible ink bottle. It is believed that the EC thinks by doing so that more of the ink will be applied and the likelihood of the removal of the indelible ink will be reduced.
This seems to be a most illogical view of an honorable office of the EC who has no idea how the indelible ink and the silver nitrate works. Neither shaken nor stirred nor dipped will change the indelible nature of the ink if it is truly indelible and not food coloring. If it is food coloring, bathing the entire hand will not make it indelible.
“No chemical was used in the ink but it was instead replaced with permitted food colouring,” said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim in his reply to Segambut Member of Parliament Lim Lip Eng.
This statement was made in Parliament and enjoys the full immunity accorded to parliamentarians and is intended for information to the Rakyat.
Many comments have been made regarding this fiasco by the Election Commission (EC). Right from the start, when complaints were made that the indelible ink can be washed off after the Police and Army personnel casted their votes in early voting, the EC retorted that perhaps the EC reps at the polling stations did not follow instructions to shake the bottle before use.
Note that AgNO3 or silver nitrate being the staining agent does not need to be shaken or stirred. It must be exposed to light to retain the stain or else it can be washed off. Some suggested to use a fixer like in photography development. In any case, there is no need to shake. Such reasoning is intended to fool the Rakyat at worst case or the EC is speaking in ignorance.
The EC did a public demonstration for the media to see and report to the Rakyat to re-instill the confidence that the indelible ink is truly indelible and not what the Opposition parties have claimed thus far. This was reported in the main stream media to reassure the Rakyat.
Next, after the 5 May election where practically most people washed off their finger of the so-called indelible ink, the EC came out with yet another fanciful excuse that it was to comply to the country’s halal requirements as well as the Ministry of Science stipulation to use a lower dose of silver nitrate which probably caused the stain to be easily removed.
The EC then claimed to call for a domestic inquiry by forming a team and to find out why the indelible ink was in fact not indelible as everybody claimed. If you noticed the fingers of the Umno and BN leaders at the announcement session of their electoral win on the early morning of 6 May, all of them from PM Najib to Rosmah to Muhyiddin and the rest had clean fingers.
To throw a spanner into the works, the Minister of Science declared that there was no such inquiry by the EC to the ministry regarding the safety level of using silver nitrate. This was rebutted by the EC saying they had received a letter from the Ministry and that matter just died down.
Almost two months after the 5 May General Elections, the EC inquiry team has yet to produce any report as to why the indelible ink was not indelible. For any professional team, it takes only a few days maximum to get to the bottom of things. Any longer duration is either the team is non-existent, no intent of getting to the facts of the matter or a desire to hide the facts.
Yesterday, the bombshell was dropped by Shahidan that the indelible ink was in fact food coloring and does not contain any chemical but he cannot reveal who the supplier is for security reasons. It was assumed that he meant no silver nitrate by reference to the chemical. The EC came out to rebut this saying that there was silver nitrate in the indelible ink. Again, the EC has no reference to their internal inquiry results.
If there is no silver nitrate, then why did the EC spend RM7.1m on the indelible ink? This amounts to cheating and is a criminal offense in misusing public funds. One does not claim to buy one thing and spend all the money pretending to do so while buying something else. Food coloring does not cost much and it seems that such coloring does not stain well either or at least when one compares to inai or kunyit (yellow ginger).
And why 216,600 bottles with a 4 month shelf life when we only needed maybe around 50,000 to 60,000 for the number of salurans and voters per station allocated? Someone must answer for this too. Furthermore, the logistics costing RM200,000 appears to be ridiculously high too. Overall, it smells very fishy indeed. And the EC is keeping quiet on this one. Will the Accountant General investigate this procurement?
If there is silver nitrate, then did Shahidan lie to the MPs in Parliament? This case is not going away quietly at all. In fact, for all intents and purposes, it has just exploded in the EC’s face.
Did EC or Shahidan lie about the silver nitrate not in the indelible ink or that the indelible ink was just food coloring?
Why did the EC keep insisting that there was silver nitrate? Why can’t an independent party check the contents of the bottles of indelible ink that the EC bought to clear up the matter rather than the EC making statement after statement thinking that the Rakyat will still believe them? Or is it that the EC does not care if the Rakyat believes them or not?
Why was RM7.1m spent instead of the RM2.4m for indelible ink from India in the 2008 elections which was discarded? The rumor was that the indelible ink or food coloring came from a Singapore supplier. Will the Rakyat get to know the real facts of the matter? Food coloring is supplied from Singapore. Real indelible ink is supplied from India or China as in the 2008 case.
A fraud is a fraud no matter who does it and if and when the EC commits the fraud, all the more they must be held accountable. If not the EC, then Shahidan for telling a lie? What is the truth of this matter? The EC is not an ordinary appointment. It is held in high esteem like our judiciary. They must not cheat the Rakyat or tell lies to the Rakyat. They must perform with the highest level of credibility and independence (which they seem to have totally lost).
Then we have Umno leaders coming to EC’s defense. First, Ku Nan saying that we should not be using indelible ink at all. We have daft leaders who treat fraud (if really EC committed fraud) as a non-issue and mis-direct the matter to not requiring the indelible ink. The demand for using indelible ink was to prevent the same person from voting more than once. Ku Nan says our IC system is perfect. Then how is it that it was detected that many people voted more than once? The same person has multiple identifications and used them for voter registration, it seems. Moreover, India also has a sophisticated electronic ballot box voting system. Shall we follow them?
Then our ex-EC Chairman says to forgive the EC but there are more pressing structural changes to make the elections free and fair. Again, can we go and forgive everyone who cheats the Rakyat of millions without holding them accountable if that is truly the case?
Really, the crux of the matter is this.
A fraud is a fraud. A lie is a lie. Cheating the Rakyat is cheating. Someone must be held accountable for this matter and get to the truth of the matter, whether accusing the EC or exonerating them or Shahidan in this matter (although he has immunity in this case).
The faster we get to the truth, the less speculations, baseless accusations and idiotic defense statements will be flaunted by leaders from all sides. Please do not treat the Rakyat as stupid fools.