Washable ink raises new concerns about Malaysian vote's integrity

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 May, 2013, 2:39am


Malaysia's opposition and clean-polls activists yesterday said the integrity of weekend elections was in doubt after revelations that indelible ink meant to prevent fraud was easily washed off.

Pressured by huge demonstrations for free and fair polls in recent years, the country's long-ruling government is introducing indelible ink in Sunday's vote, the first in history in which the opposition has a chance of winning.

But reports have mounted that security personnel who took part in early voting had easily been able to clean off the ink, which is applied to a person's finger to show they had voted and is supposed to remain visible for at least a week.

"Definitely we are concerned. The whole integrity of the electoral process has come into question," said veteran opposition politician Lim Kit Siang.

"[The Election Commission] should immediately address this problem. Otherwise it will be a black mark on the commission and undermine the public confidence in the results."

The National Front coalition that has ruled since independence in 1957 has been under pressure over charges it sought to manipulate the vote through an allegedly biased electoral system.

The government has promised a clean election.

Commission officials appeared to acknowledge yesterday that the ink system was not foolproof. Commission secretary Kamaruddin Baria said some officials had failed to shake the bottles before applying the ink, allowing it to be washed off.