The indelible ink and the kampong folks

As the Malaysian 12th General election approaching the finishing line on Saturday, the 8th of March, the Election Commission (EC) which already had been under heavy siege by the opposition for being biased towards the ruling party, on Tuesday rescinded their decision to use the indelible ink to mark voters who had voted. In the the press conference, flanked by both the IGP and the AG, real heavyweights in their respective fields, the EC Chairman, said two main reasons forced them to cancel the decision to use the ink.

a.  Police has discovered instances of groups of people smuggling similar inks into the country.  The EC was worried that the ink would be use to fool the simple kampung folks and used by unscrupulous people to mark these simple kampong folks’ nails prior to going to the polls station. And when they get to the station they wont be able to vote because their inked nails indicated that they had already voted. This may caused confusion and tension.

b.  The use of indelible ink in the election needs to be made as part of the election law and the EC has not done so. Hence, its use is deemed unconstitutional.

Today’s report on the fall out regarding the decision includes the caretaker PM himself demanding explanation from the EC and the election watch group, MAFREL, decided to pull out in protest (what a silly decision).

As usual, our national cartoonist LAT, had a sarcastic take on this issue. He caricatured, an EC man selling the ink in Pasar malam. After all, EC has spent RM2.4 million on the ink and now they are not using them. The EC secretary was saying that they are barter trading the ink. With whom and with what are not very clear.

I say the whole thing smack on insults. The EC is insulting our intelligence. To blame the simple orang kampong might get confused is plain hogwash. Please do not underestimate the intelligence of the kampong folks. If people like the illiterate 89-year old Maimun Yusuf can eloquently articulated her reasons for contesting in the general election, I am sure others understand the role of the ink. After all, when you submit your IC to the voting clerk at the polling station, he or she would check it against the electoral roll and when he or she find your name and IC number on the roll, it will be called out loudly so that the watching polling agents from the various parties can counter check on their lists. Then the name would be crossed out on the list before the ballot papers are given to you. Ink or no ink, it is the name on the list that matters. I suppose the ink is just to ensure that the same people would not be able to vote more than once. Definitely it is not possible in the same place but it may be possible in  different stations. But then, the roll would be tainted with the same name registered in various different places, and the EC has already guaranteed us that no such thing would happen. After all the indelible ink has been used in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia which have more rural folks than us and many are illiterates, without so much of a problem.

The legal reason is all the more bizarre. The EC announced  their intention in using the ink way back in August last year. Surely with a battery of lawyers working for them and watching them, somebody would have noticed the need for the amendment. If they can quickly amended the law to extend the legal retiring age of the EC chairman, surely they can do so for the indelible ink as well. Do not tell me, none of the lawyers, be it from the EC, Government, BAR council, or the opposition or the NGOs noticed the need for the amendment? Wow, how competence are our lawyers?. Are they too preoccupied with bashing the judiciary, they missed this? Correct, correct, correct!

Oh yes, I was passing the MRRII near Kampong Pandan again yesterday and this time I had a good look at the advertising billboard picturing Ong Tee Keat and actually he was not grinning but rather smiling sheepishly and he was waving to the voters,  a handsome man, not unlike the reformasi picture of Anwar Ibrahim – minus the black eye of course! And the slogan says BERSIH, MESRA, PRIHATIN. So I had to make some correction to my previous entry. Thousand apologies to Datuk Ong and his supporters. But I still think the money could have been better spent somewhere else and he should make a better effort at pushing Samy Vellu to get JKR to improve the MRRII at the Pandan Indah-Maluri junction which is perennially jammed every morning and evening due to poor road design. If you notice, part of the MRRII near Tasik Selatan is being re-tarred now, just like many small lanes in Keramat area. I like to think it is all part of the maintenance work but the speed and the timing of the works tell me something else.


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