Food colouring, not chemicals, was in the indelible ink used in the general election, the Election Commission (EC) admitted today in the Dewan Rakyat. “No chemical was used in the ink but it was instead replaced with permitted food colouring,” said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim in his reply to Segambut Member of Parliament Lim Lip Eng. His statement was in stark contrast with the EC’s claim that it used silver nitrate in the ink. He said the absence of the required chemical was the reason the ink was easily washed off. Shahidan also said that the expiry date of the ink was four months from the date it was issued but blamed voters for purposely trying to wash off the ink as the reason why it was not permanent. “How long the ink remains depends on the individual and the efforts put in to wash it off.”
In a written response, Shahidan also told the Dewan Rakyat that RM6.9 million had been spent on the ink, with an additional RM200,000 spent on transportation, packaging and storage, bringing the total expenditure to RM7.1 million.
He added that the EC did not plan to release information related to the suppliers for security reasons.
Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had urged voters to lodge police reports on polling day after many of them showed how easily the ink could be washed off their fingers.
EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof also announced the formation of a special task force to investigate the reasons why it could be easily washed off.