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Friday, May 23, 2008
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|Indelible ink 'conspiracy': Report lodged|
|Rahmah Ghazali | May 22, 08 4:36pm|
Two polls watchdog groups today lodged a police report against Election Commission chief Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman and Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for the last-minute cancellation of the indelible ink in the March 8 general elections.
Also named in the police report are two other key individuals who were allegedly responsible for the abrupt reversal in the use of the ink - inspector general of police Musa Hassan and attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail.
The groups - Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih) and National Institute for Electoral Integrity (NIEI) - claimed that the cabinet led by Abdullah had “conspired” with the EC under Abdul Rashid to suspend the use of the ink.
“This is a conspiracy between the prime minister and the EC chairman to rob our rights (as voters),” said NIEI executive director Amin Iskandar after lodging the report at the Dang Wangi police station in Kuala Lumpur.
Last Saturday, Abdul Rashid unwittingly revealed that the cabinet had objected to the use of the indelible ink and that he was ordered to take the blame for the decision.
Hours after Abdul Rashid (right) dropped the bombshell, the prime minister took pains to explain that the scrapping of the indelible ink was a cabinet's suggestion to EC, and not a directive.
The EC had last year agreed to use the ink in the 12th general election to put to rest the claims of cheating in the polls.
Subsequently, the commission spent RM2.4 million to buy 48,000 bottles of the ink from India.
However, four days before the election, the EC chief announced the scrapping of the indelible ink, citing public order and security reasons.
Also present at the press conference where Abdul Rashid made the controversial announcement were police chief Musa and AG Abdul Gani.
Musa had revealed that four people were under investigation for buying the indelible ink from neighbouring countries and they were planning to use it on unsuspecting voters to create chaos on polling day.
However, two weeks ago Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar told Parliament that the EC’s decision to cancel the use of the indelible ink was based on ‘hearsay evidence’ received by the police.
He revealed that the EC’s move to call off the use of the ink was based on “unsubstantiated claims that elements of sabotage had been detected by the police”.
EC’s reasons absurd
NIEI’s Amin described the reasons given by EC in the suspension of the ink as absurd.
“I’ve been to Afghanistan and Nepal (to observe elections) and these are post-conflict nations, yet they never had such nonsensical excuses,” said Amin, who has participated in missions to observe elections in a number of countries for over 10 years.
He showed reporters his thumbnail, marked with indelible ink in his last observer mission at the April 10 elections in Nepal. The ink remain intact despite that his thumb was marked more than a month ago (right).
“This proves how strong the ink is,” he added.
Badrul Hisham Shahrin, an opposition PKR candidate who contested in the March 8 elections, said the conflicting statements given by the four parties involved - the cabinet, EC, IGP and AG - indicated a conspiracy behind the cancellation of the ink.
“They have received inside information that BN would lose government if the indelible ink were to be used, hence its cancellation,” said Badrul (left), who ran for the Rembau parliamentary seat but lost to Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin.
“We are calling for a royal commission to investigate this matter,” he added.
Badrul later stated that the commission could probe, among others, the government’s failure to amend the election laws to enable the use of the ink and the real reasons for its last-minute cancellation.
Also present when the police report was lodged was Bersih secretary Faisal Mustaffa.