A-G gives nod to indelible ink

(The Malaysian Insider) – The Attorney-General cleared the way for the use of indelible ink in elections when he told a parliamentary panel today that only a minor change in electoral regulations was required to implement the key demand by polls reform movement Bersih 2.0.

Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili said Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail informed the parliamentary select committee on electoral reforms that “either a constitutional amendment or a regulation change” was required so the Election Commission (EC) can mark voters to avoid multiple voting.

According to panel member Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad, the change to Rule 19 of the Election (Conduct of Election) Regulations 1981 can “be done anytime” and only requires the approval of the Yang diPertuan Agong before Parliament is notified.

“It does not need Parliament’s approval. There is nothing to stop the use of indelible ink now. The road is clear,” said Rasah MP Anthony Loke.

But Maximus told reporters “the committee will weigh the matter before making any resolution.”

The Malaysian Insider previously reported that while the nine-man committee unanimously agreed that indelible ink can be used, Abdul Gani had said the Federal Constitution does not allow the authorities to force a voter to be marked with permanent ink.

But after Abdul Gani clarified his stand today, a source said the A-G sent a note to the panel earlier this month saying “indelible ink cannot be used without changes to the constitution or laws related to it.”

“The A-G has basically squirmed out and flip-flopped using legal terms,” he said.

Mohd Radzi had also admitted that “even I, as a lawyer, found the letter very confusing.”

The EC had initially planned to use indelible ink, bought at a cost of RM2.4 million, for Election 2008 but backed out at the last minute, citing public order and security issues.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim also said yesterday that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) would support a constitutional amendment if such was required to implement the use of indelible ink.