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Sunday, June 30, 2013

INDELIBLE INK: Crystal clear breach of public trust but not a squeak from Transparency Minister Paul Low

INDELIBLE INK: Crystal clear breach of public trust but not a squeak from Transparency Minister Paul Low
If the word Misfeasance is interpreted by Wikipedia as someone taking inappropriate action or give intentionally incorrect advice, in my opinion, the Election Commission Chairman, Abdul Aziz Yusof and his deputy, Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, have committed it!
Both no longer enjoy public confidence, and If they do not resign, the Opposition should table a motion in parliament for the plea to be made to the Yang Dipertuan Agong to sack them, and the entire council, so as to protect the good name of the Agong.
The blatant lies told by the Election Commission duo about the controversial ink used in the last General Election also calls for a special inquiry by the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament and the Auditor General's office so that the truth can be known to the public and a decision should also be made to see if there was indeed a breach of public trust and an act of misfeasance.
At least in my opinion, the breach of trust is criminal in nature as it involves a total of RM7.1 million of public funds - and the EC chairman and his deputy were found to be anything but honest about the use of indelible ink.
As a trained chemist, with my career background in printing ink, paint and emulsion polymer, I have followed through the entire argument about the ink being "indelible", and I found it most shocking and disgusting to now hear from the Minister in the Prime Minister's department, Shahidan Kassim that there was indeed no silver nitrate in the ink used.
As we all know, it is the silver nitrate in the ink that makes it indelible. If you were to accidentally spill an aqueous solution of silver nitrate on your hand, the black mark on your skin will remain for over a week before it can be gradually removed. This is the reason why indelible inks worldwide, which are often referred to as election ink, are produced using silver nitrate.
All along the EC chairman, Abdul Aziz Yusof himself had claimed that there was a letter from the Ministry of Health stating that anything about 1% solution of silver nitrate could be carcinogenic or causing damage to the kidneys. He did not even for once mention that the ink was nothing but food colouring.
As far as I know, a 2-percent aqueous solution of silver nitrate is used in the simple technique of cleaning the eyes of newborn infants as a preventive measure for neonatal conjunctivitis.
The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) of silver nitrate has no specific mention of its carcinogenic or other health effects. That the EC had received a letter from the Ministry of Health stating that anything more than 1% silver nitrate could have harmful health effects is nothing but a blatant lie by Abdul Aziz himself, now that even the Health Minister had denied the existence of such a letter.
No one in the right mind, except perhaps Abdul Aziz, would even dare say that silver nitrate could cause cancer or damage to the kidneys.
The latest is that even his deputy, Wan Ahmad was quoted by the Malay Mail Online (http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/ec-insists-indelible-ink-contained-silver-nitrate-not-just-food-dye) saying that the EC had agreed the silver nitrate used would be 4 percent.
Both Abdul Aziz and his deputy are not even in agreement. They deserve an open reprimand for bringing in a topic which has no bearing on the nature of the controversial ink used during the GE13. In the first place, if it was food colouring, the indelible ink using silver nitrate should never have been brought up by the EC Chairman for a prolonged debate, now only to show that he was blatantly lying to the people.
And for your information, silver nitrate is known worldwide as a CHEMICAL, not as a metal as claimed by Wan Ahmad Wan Omar. Silver (or Ag) is metal, but AgNO3 is a chemical, stupid!
The entire fiasco, in my opinion, is an insult to the people's intelligence and a misfeasance, which requires the Yang Dipertuan Agong to remove him and his councillors from this office of high esteem. Abdul Aziz and his men have lost the public confidence of the people.
A whopping RM7.1 million spent
According to Shahidan's reply to MP of Segambut, Lim Lip Eng, "A total of RM6.9 million was spent on the purchase of the controversial ink for the 13th General Election. This involves the design of special ink bottles, brush, packaging and manufacturing of the ink, the fact that it is not available in the market. The additional costs incurred include transportation, packaging and storage of the ink which costs RM200,000."
The indelible ink is nothing uncommon. It is commonly known as election ink, and has been used in a number of countries around the world. The standard procedure is to apply the ink after the voting process is done. The indelible ink can even be purchased online. There is no magic about the ink, except that it is used to prevent fraud cases involving double voting --- one of the many vulnerabilities in the electoral process which was already identified and highlighted by groups such as Tindak Malaysia, BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee and the Parliament Select Committee.
The cost of purchasing the ink is far too high. Even with the worse case scenario, where the indelible ink uses silver nitrate, a bottle costs only US$5. With 26,000 voting streams, and each stream with 800 voters, and we supply two bottles each to be safe, we are talking about a total of 52,000 bottles for the entire country. This is a total of US$260,000 or in Ringgit Malaysia, nothing more than one million Ringgit.
There is nothing really special about the ink bottles or the brush used, because there are truly no reasons for such aesthetically designed bottles or brushes. If it is indelible ink, it is indelible ink, stupid!
Why has the EC spent a whopping RM7.1 million on the controversial ink? Assuming that you are spending RM6.9 million on 99.99% pure silver alone, you can get at least 2 metric tonnes and it will not cost you RM200,000 to ship that amount of pure silver from London to Kuala Lumpur.
What transportation costs are we talking about when the ink bottles were all part of the voting equipment to be shipped across the country during the run-up to GE13?
In my opinion, the EC duo had not only committed public breach of trust when they spoke to the public about the indelible ink, but the case is in fact criminal in nature, because it involves such a huge amount of public funds.Yet, nothing was achieved by using the controversial ink.
It not only angers the public against the EC, but against the Prime Minister and his entire regime, including Minister in the Prime Minister Department, Senator Paul Low, for the failure to address the issue with integrity.

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