PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Leave for overseas travel for all Malaysian police personnel has been frozen for the period between March to May in preparation for the country's coming general election, the police force 's management department director said.
Commissioner Abdul Ghafar Rajab said the freeze, which came into effect on Wednesday (Feb 21), is applicable through March, April and May.
"It is part of our preparations for the coming elections," he told The Star on Thursday.
"Freezing of all leave, including for domestic travel, will be imposed once the date of the election is announced," Datuk Seri Abdul Ghafar added. "Once (the date) is announced, we will do the necessary."
However, working trips overseas, especially for the police headquarters' directors, are still permitted.
"Such trips, including commitments by the directors to attend conferences and other important events, are still allowed. They constitute as working trips," he said, adding that only overseas holiday leave had been frozen.
Comm Abdul Ghafar also said the department had made all the necessary preparations to provide manpower support for the elections. "We are ready to provide the necessary assistance whenever and wherever it is required," he said.
Meanwhile, the deputy director of the Internal Security and Public Order Department, Deputy Commissioner Azizan Abu Bakar, said the police had some 130,000 personnel ready to be sent out during the elections.
According to Datuk Azizan, the police had conducted multiple drills in preparation for the polls. "We held a series of exercises to ensure all personnel are prepared for any eventuality. The last batch of exercises will be conducted early next month," he added.
The exercise scenarios were based on four situations during the general election period; after Parliament is dissolved, nomination day, polling day and the announcement of the results.
In another sign that the general election is imminent, Malaysia's Election Commission (EC) has placed an order with a company in India for indelible ink that will be shipped "soon", according to a report.
Mysore Paints and Varnish Ltd said it had received an order from the EC for one lakh (100,000) bottles of indelible ink, the Deccan Herald newspaper reported on Sunday.
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 (RM 4.8million, S$1.6 million) will be supplied to Malaysia soon," Venkatesh was quoted as saying.
The news report 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.
Indelible ink was first used in Malaysia during the 2013 general election. But its use ran into some controversy after some Malaysians said that they could easily wash off the ink, which was meant to prevent repeat voting.
The previous EC chairman, Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, had said the ink can only be ordered, manufactured and shipped close to the anticipated date of an election as it could go bad after a few months if shipped too early.
Officials from the ink manufacturer have yet to respond to enquiries on the matter, while EC officials declined to comment.
Separately, Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid said schools nationwide have made the necessary preparations to be used as polling centres.
He said the ministry was waiting for the notice from the EC on which schools have been identified as polling centres across the 222 parliamentary seats.
More stories on the Malaysia election at str.sg/malaysiaGE