EC orders indelible ink from India

PETALING JAYA: The Election Commission (EC) has placed an order with a company in India for indelible ink that will be shipped “soon”, in another sign that the general election is imminent.

Mysore Paints and Varnish Ltd said it had received an order from the EC for one lakh (100,000) bottles of indelible ink, according to the Deccan Herald newspaper.

The company’s chairman H.A. Venkatesh was quoted as saying that the order is for use during the Malaysian general election.

Each bottle contains 60ml of indelible ink.

“The ink worth Rs8 crore (RM4.8mil) will be supplied to Malaysia soon,” Venkatesh was quoted as saying.

The news report on Sunday did not indicate when the order was made or if the EC would make more than one order from the company.

The company’s website contains a photo of an indelible ink bottle bearing the EC logo and claims that its indelible ink products have been used to mark 4.5 billion voters in India and other countries.

According to the website, the company is owned by the state government of Karnataka.

A news report last year in the Star of Mysore newspaper quoted Venkatesh as saying that the company, which supplies indelible ink to India’s election commission as well, was prepared to receive orders for elections in Malaysia, Cambodia and Nepal.

Indelible ink was first used in Malaysia during the 2013 general election.

The then EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof had said the ink can only be ordered, manufactured and shipped close to the anticipated date of an election.

This is because if it is shipped too early, the ink will go bad after a few months.

The use of indelible ink was one of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reforms and is provided for under the Election Regulations (Conduct of Election) (Amendments) 2012.

First mooted in the run-up to the 2008 general election, the use of the ink was cancelled three days before the general election that year on the advice of the Attorney-General because of doubts over its legality.

Widely used product: A screenshot of a bottle of indelible ink bearing the EC’s logo on the website of the Mysore Paints and Varnish Ltd.
Widely used product: A screenshot of a bottle of indelible ink bearing the EC’s logo on the website of the Mysore Paints and Varnish Ltd.

Officials from the ink manufacturer have yet to respond to enquiries on the matter, while EC officials declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said schools nationwide have made the necessary preparations to be used as polling centres.

The ministry is just waiting for the notice from the EC on which schools have been identified as polling centres across the 222 parliamentary seats.

“It is usually through the state Education Departments that the EC will inform us which schools have been identified for each constituency,” he said when contacted.

He said the EC had its own standard operating procedure for election season and polling day.

“The EC will determine where the voters go in, where they are allowed to be, where the queues form, and the areas where officers will be stationed on polling day.

“Some classrooms will be used and there will be areas where the EC will put up its tents,” he said.

He added that the ministry would continue to check on and upgrade the basic facilities at schools such as electricity and water supplies as part of the preparations.

“We will always ensure things go smoothly and people can vote in a calm manner,” he said.

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