Minister says food dye used in indelible ink, contradicts EC

The Election Commission (EC) used food dye instead of silver nitrate in the indelible ink meant to prevent double voting during the May 5 general election, Parliament was told today.

“No chemicals were used in the ink, they were instead replaced with approved food colouring,” Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said in a short written reply to Segambut DAP lawmaker Lim Lip Eng, who earlier asked why the indelible ink reportedly failed to last as intended.

Shahidan statement contradicts the EC’s earlier claims that the ink contained silver nitrate and that the reduction of the chemical may have led to the ink’s easy removal despite the commission’s assurance that the inking should have lasted seven days after application.

Shahidan went on to say that the strength of the ink “depends on the individual and efforts put to remove the ink”.

He further noted that a test conducted on EC officials and media personnel on May 2 “proved” that the ink was effective.


Today’s revelation comes just as the EC admitted that the indelible ink fiasco was a “failure”, with chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof expressing his disappointment with reports that the ink could be removed easily.

The ink was part of the recommendations made for polls reforms last year. The decision was also made in light of dipping public confidence towards the commission.

The move, however, backfired when many voters complained that the ink was easily washed off with soap. This added to accusations that the EC was conspiring to keep the Barisan Nasional in power.

Abdul Aziz denied the allegations.

The opposition and citizen groups such as Bersih are now demanding the immediate resignation of the present EC leadership as a condition to any bilateral talks for genuine electoral reform.

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