EC deputy denies link to indelible ink supplier

A polling clerk marks with ink a voter’s finger at a polling station in Pekan on May 5, 2013. — AFP pic
A polling clerk marks with ink a voter’s finger at a polling station in Pekan on May 5, 2013. — AFP pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 17 — Election Commission (EC) deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar today denied knowing the supplier of the controversial indelible ink that was used for the May 5 polls, and insisted that he played no role in its purchase.

PKR’s Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli told Parliament yesterday that the contract for the indelible ink was awarded via direct negotiation to a businessman named Mohd Salleh Mohd Ali, whom he alleged were close to the EC’s chief and deputy.

“I don’t know him and I don’t have anything to do with buying the ink,” Wan Ahmad told The Malay Mail Online today.

Wan Ahmad’s denial came after news portals reported EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof yesterday as saying that he did not have any ties with Mohd Salleh.

Abdul Aziz was also quoted as saying that the procurement of the ink was handled by EC secretary Datuk Kamaruddin Mohamed Baria.

When contacted, however, Kamaruddin declined comment, merely saying: “I don’t want to talk to reporters.”

The indelible ink, which turned into a national scandal after voters complained about it coming off easily with household detergents or soap and water, cost about RM7 million, according to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim.

Wan Ahmad has explained that the election ink failed to stick for a week because the level of silver nitrate — needed to give the ink its permanence — had been kept at just one per cent following the Health Ministry’s recommendations and to meet halal requirements for Muslims.

The matter, however, sank deeper into controversy when Shahidan appeared to suggest that even the one per cent of silver nitrate had not been present, telling Parliament last month that there were “no chemicals” in the ink, and just food colouring.

But Wan Ahmad later contradicted Shahidan and said that the ink did contain one per cent silver nitrate, and that it was likely classified as a metal, instead of a chemical. He said that food dye was used to turn the indelible ink red for early voters and dark blue for ordinary voters.

The indelible ink fiasco was turned into the subject of a civil suit filed last Monday by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) against EC’s seven commissioners, including Wan Ahmad and Abdul Aziz.

The opposition coalition is suing the EC officials for allegedly practising fraud in the use of the indelible ink, which is meant to prevent double-voting, in the 13th general election and wants the High Court here to order fresh polls in all 222 federal constituencies.

PR has noted that it had lost about 30 federal seats with less than 10 per cent of the votes, saying in its statement of claim: “Therefore, even if a small percentage of dishonest voters were able to wrongfully vote more than once because of the deliberate failure of the EC to implement indelible ink, they were sufficient to affect the results in a significant number of seats.”

Barisan Nasional (BN) maintained its grip on power in the May 5 polls by winning 133 federal seats to PR’s 89, 21 seats more than the required 112 seats to form a simple majority.

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