Malaysian police freeze overseas leave ahead of polls

Election Commission has also placed order for indelible ink used during voting process

Malaysia's police department has also made all the necessary preparations to provide manpower support for the country's upcoming elections.
Malaysia's police department has also made all the necessary preparations to provide manpower support for the country's upcoming elections.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA • Malaysia's police has frozen all leave for overseas travel for cops from next month to May in preparation for the coming general election, the police's management department director said.

And in another sign that the polls are 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.

Speaking about the freezing of applications to vacation abroad, Commissioner Abdul Ghafar Rajab said: "It is part of our preparations for the coming elections.

"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."

But working trips overseas, especially for the police headquarters' directors, are still permitted.

Mr Abdul Ghafar 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.

The deputy director of Internal Security and Public Order Department, Datuk Azizan Abu Bakar, said some 130,000 personnel will be sent out during the elections.

The men in blue had conducted multiple drills in preparation for the polls, he said. "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."

The exercise scenarios were based on four scenarios during the general election: after Parliament is dissolved, on nomination day, polling day and the announcement of the results.

The EC has ordered 100,000 bottles of indelible ink from India's Mysore Paints and Varnish, the company was reported as saying by the Deccan Herald newspaper on Sunday. Company 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, which is used to mark the finger of a person who has cast his vote at a polling centre.

"The ink worth eight crore rupees (S$1.6 million) will be supplied to Malaysia soon," Mr 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.

Indelible ink was first used in Malaysia in the 2013 general election. But its use ran into controversy after some Malaysians said they could easily wash off the ink, which was meant to prevent repeat voting.

The previous EC chairman, Mr Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, had said the ink can be ordered, manufactured and shipped only close to the anticipated date of an election as it could deteriorate after a few months if shipped too early.

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.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2018, with the headline 'Malaysian police freeze overseas leave ahead of polls'. Subscribe