Open letter to Tunku Abdul Aziz bin Tunku Ibrahim, EC Chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof and EC Deputy Chairman Datuk Wira Wan Ahmad Wan Omar.
I write this letter out of concern as a Malaysian that Election Commission of Malaysia will abuse the use of Regulation 15 (1) hand in hand with Borang 717 and the indelible ink. I fully support what Tunku Abdul Aziz and Zul have mentioned repeatedly in the press, that there will be chaos on 5th May 2013 but differ in who are the people behind.
Here is my opinion:-
The abuse of Regulation 15 and Borang 717:-
Regulation 15. Admittance to polling station.
(1) No person shall be admitted to vote at any polling station except the polling station to which that part of the electoral roll which contains his name has been assigned:
Provided that where an elector for any constituency is employed as a presiding officer or in any other official capacity at a polling station within that constituency and it is inconvenient for him to vote at the polling station to which that part of the electoral roll which contains his name has been assigned, the returning officer may authorize such elector to vote at any other polling station in the constituency. Such authorization shall be given under the hand of the returning officer and shall state the name of the elector and his number in the electoral roll, and the fact that he is so employed as aforesaid and shall specify the polling station at which he is authorized to vote.
Borang 717 goes hand in hand with regulation 15 (1). According to EC just last week, this form was used before but for 13th GE it will not be applicable. Getting verbal assurance from EC is not concrete as this Borang 717 can be abused in rural areas. EC must put it in writing that regulation 15 (1) and Borang 717 have been deleted from Election (Conduct of Elections) Regulations 1981. (Incorporating latest amendment – P.U.(A) 113/2012. EC had refused till today to delete this clause.
Abuse of Indelible ink and the systematic delay process of voting
1. Indelible ink – Ordinary, Advanced and Postal Voters
Indelible ink is only used for Ordinary Voters on Polling Day, May 5.
Advanced voters like those in the military, police and their spouses do not need to use indelible ink on April 30 2013 when they vote in advance. There is no way to identify that they have already voted. And if they vote again during Polling Day on May 5, the election officials and polling agents will not be able to identify and stop them from voting.
Postal voters also do not need to use indelible ink. These include Election Commission officials and journalists serving during elections, as well as absent and overseas voters.
2. Increase in the number of postal voters
During the 2008 General Elections, the number of postal voters was 140,000. However, this number increased to 300,000 for the 2013 General Elections. From what I understand, the number consists of mainly Election Commission officials that are not marked with indelible ink.
3. Time factor
There are a few reasons why I believe that the Election Commission is trying to reduce the number of people voting.
(a) Indelible ink contains silver nitrate which does not work under 30 seconds. This is because under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) guidelines, indelible ink needs to be exposed to ultra-violet light/sunlight for at least 30-seconds in order for it to work. However, the Elections Commission said that the indelible ink can dry in 5 seconds. My question is this: Is the Elections Commission using instant dry ink? Will the use of tissue papers affect the veracity and validity of the use of the indelible ink on the fingers?
(b) Secondly, Kerani 3 has been instructed to fold the ballot papers before giving them to the voter. In order for the voter to cross his or her vote, he or she has to unfold the two ballot papers. There are 25 million ballot papers that have to be folded and unfolded 100 million times. This is obviously a waste of time and a good delay tactic.
This is because there are 700 or more voters allocated to vote in each classroom. Voting hours are from 8am to 5pm (9 hours or 540 minutes). If 540 minutes are divided between 700 voters, this means that each voter only has 0.77 minutes or 46 seconds to cast his or her vote.
Kerani 2 will take between 50 seconds to two (2) minutes to mark a voter with indelible ink but voters only have 46 seconds to vote. If the voting period is 540 minutes and each voter takes about two (2) minutes to vote, the result is only 270 voters (or 38% of the total population of 700 voters) will get a chance to enter into the polling booth to vote. This means that more than half of the voters may not be able to cast their votes due to time constraints.
4. Possible increase in spoilt votes
Voters are marked with indelible ink before they take the ballot papers. In the event the ink on the finger is not yet dry and they take the ballot papers and open them with their wet finger, there is a high chance that the ballot papers may be smudged with the ink and this may cause the ballot paper to be rejected during the counting process.
5. Distance of Polling Agent from Voters
Polling Agents are placed 4 meters away from Kerani 2, who checks the voter’s fingers to see that there is no indelible ink mark on them. Unfortunately, the polling agent is unable to counter-check that the voter’s fingers are cleaned because he or she is seated very far away from Kerani 2. And due to the physical arrangement or layout of the room, the polling agent’s vision is blocked. As such, there is a risk that they may not be able to spot a voter who is voting for a second time.
6. Duration of indelible ink on the finger
According to the Election Commission, the indelible ink is supposed to be able to last about 168 hours or 1 week on the applied finger. However, the UNDP guidelines state that indelible ink usually lasts no more than 72 hours. There appears to be a discrepancy between UNDP guidelines and the Election Commission’s claims. No one knows how long the ink will last as it has not been tested for content and length of time.
7. Advance voting too early
The Election Commission has specified that Advanced Voting will be not less than three (3) days before polling. If that is the case, the ink has to last at least four (4) days (3 days before polling and 1 polling day).
And if advance polling is set five (5) days before the actual day, it means that the indelible ink has to last at least six (6) days (7 days after advance voting plus actual polling day on May 5).
However, experts have said that the indelible ink can only last three (3) days. In such a case, the Election Commission has designed the Advanced Voting process to go beyond the capacity of the indelible ink. The problem is that the ink may not last long enough so that it can be shown on polling day.
8. Increased expenditure for indelible ink
In 2008, the Elections Commission spent RM2.3 million to buy ink for 10.9 million voters. However, in 2013, the cost shot up to RM10 million for 13.6 million voters. There is an increase of 25% voters but the cost accelerated sharply 400% to purchase the ink. My question is this, why has the cost jumped 400%?
The problems can be solve easily if the Election Commission is truly committed in their scope of work. I propose the following:-
1. Public demonstration of the use of the indelible ink.
2. To reveal the chemical composition and use of the indelible ink.
3. To reveal how long the indelible ink lasts.
4. To shift the position of Kerani 2 (who applies the indelible ink) and applying the ink after the voter has submitted his ballot papers into the relevant boxes. By doing this, the voter is able to avoid smudging the ballot papers, sufficient time for the ink to dry after the voter has voted and this reduces the risk of any delays in the voting process. In fact, by eliminating the role of Kerani 2, the Election Commission will actually save RM7 million in terms of costs.
So far the excuse given by Election Commission that voters will run away after voting is simply unbelievable. My question is WHY should they? Unless, if there are foreigners given ID to vote. Many Islamic Countries have done it, so why is it not possible in
Since I have pointed out the problems that will arise on 5th May 2013, I hereby urge Tunku Aziz, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz and Datuk Wira Wan Ahmad not to be indifferent to my concern.
AS A MALAYSIAN I WILL DEFINITELY HOLD THE THREE OF YOU RESPONSIBLE IF CHAOS OR ANOTHER MAY 13 WERE TO HAPPEN.
25th April 2013