KOTA BAHARU, March 5 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi says that the move by the Election Commission (EC) to call off its earlier decision to use indelible ink on the nails or fingers of voters on Saturday is to avoid registered voters from being victimised.
The Prime Minister said it was felt that such a decision by the EC was necessary to prevent certain parties from thwarting the electoral process by preventing voters to exercise their democratic right to vote.
"There is a possibility of certain actions by certain quarters that could give rise to chaos and there is a likelihood that those who want to vote could not do so as their fingers were already stained with ink.
"As such, this sort of victimisation should not be allowed," he told reporters after meeting leaders of the Kelantan Umno Liaison Body Tuesday night.
Among those who attended were the head of the body, Datuk Seri Annuar Musa, and his deputy, Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin, as well as a number of Kelantan BN candidates for the general election.
The Prime Minister said he had also read a report prepared by various authorities in connection with the possibility of some groups wanting to thwart or sabotage the general election, especially in Kelantan, by bringing in the indelible ink.
Abdullah, who is also the Internal Security, said that in facing that possibility, it was therefore appropriate for the EC to protect its integrity.
"What is more important is that the rights of the people who had registered to vote must be upheld.
"That must be the guarantee from the EC to all citizens and voters on March 8," he said.
Abdullah denied that the EC's move was as a result of instructions from him or Barisan Nasional (BN).
"This was not our (BN's) work. This was a decision by the EC," he said.
Abdullah said the EC should now invite representatives from all political parties and explain to them in detail why it called off the use of indelible ink in the general election.
"I have informed Datuk Radzi (BN Secretary-General Datuk Seri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad) to get detailed explanations from the EC," he said.
In Putrajaya today, EC Chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman announced the cancellation of its earlier decision to use indelible ink on voters in the general election following advice from the legal point of view and public safety.
Abdul Rashid said investigations following a report to the police had confirmed that irresponsible groups had bought the ink from abroad to persuade and bribe those who were not so sure about the use of the ink by smearing ink on their fingers even before they voted.
"The EC is extremely disappointed over the decision. But we need to make a firm and final decision to ensure our obligation and responsibility towards a smooth election process as well as public safety," he said.