The indelible ink fiasco


“There were reports made to the police alleging that certain quarters had purchased indelible ink from abroad with the intention of creating confusion and suspicion over the status of voters. This may cause chaos at polling stations which, if widespread, may be difficult to control.
Following legal advice and looking at the issue of public order and security, the EC has decided not to introduce the use of indelible ink.” – Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman at a press conference on March 4.

» “The reason they cancelled the ink was because we were edging towards that (winning the election). We had passed 48% of the popular vote, edging about 2% a day of the shift; and they knew that. That’s why they cancelled the indelible ink. Which means they had 3-4% votes to cheat. So imagine if they had used the ink? And the postal votes? We would have won easily.” – Keadilan adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in an interview with theSun published on March 27.

» “After the police reports were studied and interviews with the complainants and the witnesses, it is found there was no evidence at all to show that the ink was smuggled in from Thailand. This is because no witness has seen the ink personally).
“From the witness statements, no individual, syndicate or any particular party was identified to be involved in this (ink smuggling). The complainant and witness statements were based on hearsay and no individual was identified positively.” – Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar replying to DAP’s Fong Po Kuan in Parliament, May 6.

…the above statements, in chronological order, speak volumes of the constant bungling of our enforcers – intentional or otherwise.

Assuming that there is truth to the police’s finding that there was no evidence of smuggling of indelible ink, it brings into question the investigative skills of our law enforcers which caused disruption to the smooth running of a general election!

They based their probe on hearsay and there was never any confiscation of the ink said to have been brought into the country to upset the running of the election.

Back to the indelible ink, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan was present at the press conference by the EC chairman at which the cancellation of the ink was announced. Seated with them was Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail whose office decides the fate of every case and which of late has a fondness for the letters N, F and A (No Further Action).

Abdul Gani had appealed to all parties not to “politicise” the issue, thus one expects Anwar to be the first to be criticised for his statements in his interview with us. But now that the home minister had declared to Parliament that “the complainant and witness statements were based on hearsay and no individual was identified positively”, what is the electorate to do?

Can you blame some parties for attempting to put two and two together and conclude that the indelible ink fiasco was an attempt to influence the outcome of the election – lending credence to Anwar’s accusations? Come on-lah! Even if Anwar’s claims are not valid, one cannot fault the people for believing that the whole thing was a sandiwara or hiburan malam ini starring Abdul Rashid, Musa, Abdul Gani and now Syed Hamid, playing to an audience of 22 million.

The fact that the EC was reluctant to use indelible ink in the first place, where Abdul Rashid said laws needed to be amended before the ink could be used and that the use of the ink was not compulsory does nothing but further fuel speculation that not all is what it seems, and that the election was not conducted as fairly as it ought to have been.

In my column on Feb 26, I wrote: “On top of all these blemishes, we are reminded at this time of some of the words uttered by Abdul Rashid – that he knows the date of the election (information that only the prime minister is privy to); that only the ruling coalition is capable of running the country; and his challenging the Opposition to withdraw from the polls if it felt that the election process was unfair.” The powers that be must realise by now that they are not talking to a bunch of buffoons who will lap up everything that is spewed out. The people are now discerning and will search in every nook and cranny for the truth – a rare commodity these days.

This latest turn of events has left an indelible mark on the image of the EC and our law enforcement authorities.

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