Malaysia

Halal status affected indelible ink’s strength, says EC

A voter shows her inked finger after casting her ballot in Permatang Pauh, Penang on May 5, 2013. The EC says the indelible ink used would still leave visible traces even after washing. — Reuters picA voter shows her inked finger after casting her ballot in Permatang Pauh, Penang on May 5, 2013. The EC says the indelible ink used would still leave visible traces even after washing. — Reuters picPUTRAJAYA, May 5 — The indelible ink used in Election 2013 has a different strength from those used in other countries since it has to comply with halal and health regulations, the Election Commission (EC) said today.

It however still insisted that if it was applied properly, the ink would leave visible traces even after washing.

“In overseas, indelible ink does not have to comply to halal status for Muslims,” EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof told reporters here.

“At the same time, an official letter from the Ministry of Health stated that the content of silver nitrate must not exceed one per cent.”

According to Abdul Aziz, the ink allows water to seep through it to allow ablution by Muslims, as required by the National Fatwa Council.

A higher content of silver nitrate would cause internal organ failure, so it has been replaced by herbal ingredients, he said.

Indelible ink includes silver nitrate to make sure that the pigment stays on the skin temporarily. In other countries, the ink usually contains between seven and 15 per cent silver nitrate.

Showing his still-stained finger, Aziz admitted that the failure of indelible ink in some cases was caused by teething problems with using the ink for the first time.

“The EC is not here to cheat. As an organisation, we would like to be transparent, we don’t like to cheat. We don’t have an agenda,” he stressed.

EC deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar told reporters this morning that he was not worried the ink could be washed off, stressing that voters cannot vote twice with one identity card (IC) number.

“I’m not worried about indelible ink washed off today because tomorrow you cannot vote,” he said.

“How is he going to vote without a MyKad or an IC number? One rakyat’s name is only stated once.”

Several voters have reported washing off the election ink, which is meant to be indelible to prevent repeat voting, after casting their ballots today, with just soap and water.

Aside from the controversy of the ink, Election 2013 — touted to be the tightest electoral race in the country’s history — has also been marred by reports vote-buying and phantom voters.

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