Wednesday March 5, 2008
BY RAPHAEL WONG
PUTRAJAYA: The use of indelible ink on polling day has been scrapped after police received reports of a plan to “sabotage” the election process in Perlis, Kedah and Kelantan.
Election Commission (EC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said police investigations revealed that people had smuggled the ink in and had planned to go to rural and remote areas to trick village folk into believing that their fingernails had to be marked before they can go to vote.
“They are out to create confusion and suspicion by persuading those not familiar with the procedure to have the ink applied (to a voter’s forefinger or nail) before polling day.
“The EC views these issues seriously as the election process and public order and security cannot be compromised,” he said during a press conference here yesterday.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan and Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail were also present.
The use of indelible ink was first proposed last June to safeguard against multiple or phantom voting. Abdul Rashid then said the system would be subject to amendments to the Election (Conduct of Election) Regulation 1981.
Police yesterday said they were investigating four reports of the sabotage plan – two from Perlis and one each from Kedah and Kelantan – and have classified the cases as attempted cheating.
Abdul Rashid said the EC deeply regretted its decision but was obliged to make a firm and final decision yesterday to ensure the smooth conduct of the polls.
He denied that political pressure had been exerted on the EC to cancel the use of the ink
When asked whether a proper study was done before introducing the ink, Abdul Rashid said a study was done on how it was used in other countries.
“In the beginning, we thought it was just an ordinary process that we could just introduce but then we realised, after getting all the necessary advice from the legal experts, that we would have to take a look at the (Federal) Constitution,” he said.
He added that the EC had to examine the other laws and regulations first.
He said Article 119 of the Federal Constitution guaranteed the right of a registered elector to vote and laws providing otherwise should be ultra vires the Constitution.
Abdul Rashid said he was disappointed as he had wanted to continue with the use of the indelible ink.
“There are many things that need to be done which we cannot do.
So do not accuse the EC of not doing anything.
“We know that there is no cheating but still people insist it exists. I have never found any proof of this,” he said.
Abdul Rashid said the EC would be informing the political parties accordingly and urged them to accept the decision with an open heart and mind.
Abdul Gani said for the ink to be used, amendments must be made to Article 119 of the Federal Constitution, which protected a person’s right to vote, as well as provisions relating to the Election Act and the regulations relating to the conduct of the elections.
: The Star.