Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Indelible ink to be used at polls put to the test

Indelible ink to be used at polls put to the test

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
EU Ambassador to Cambodia George Edgar tests indelible ink at an NEC conference on the upcoming commune elections yesterday in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Indelible ink to be used at polls put to the test

Cambodia’s National Election Committee yesterday concluded that its indelible ink – whose indelibility was called into question earlier this month when samples were reportedly washed off – is acceptable for use in the upcoming June 4 commune elections after publicly testing it on 16 people.

The individuals dipping their digits into the ink produced by an India-based company included EU Ambassador George Edgar, Cambodia National Rescue Party official Morn Phalla, civil society members and journalists.

Volunteers waited about 10 minutes before attempting to clean their fingers with a cosmetic product from Thailand. On some individuals, the ink appeared to be partially removed, while on others it was almost completely gone. Minutes later, however, the dipped area had turned a slightly darker shade.

Hoeu Rong, an adviser to the NEC who read the conclusion, insisted the darker shade wouldn’t wash off. “I would report that nothing wrong happened with the test right now,” he said.

Earlier this month, an NEC official told the Cambodia Daily that it tested samples of the ink and found it could be washed off with hair care products. Since then, the committee has received a shipment of 46,500 bottles of ink at a cost of $790,000 from Mysore Paints & Varnish Ltd.

Sik Bun Hok, head of the NEC, said although people may still be suspicious of the test results, the NEC will use the ink for the elections. He added that the NEC will also use five other identifying principles to prevent voter fraud.

“I think that those five preventive points are more important [than the ink], and I prioritise them,” he said. “People attempting to disguise will not dare take the risk.”

The measures include, among other things, cross-checking IDs against the newly reformed voter list at polling stations. There is a fine of 5 million to 20 million riel (about $1,250 to $5,000) for those attempting to vote more than once.

NEC member and spokesman Hang Puthea said the NEC didn’t have lab results to see if the ink from the shipment had a 25 percent silver nitrate content, which makes it indelible.

“If we have results or we don’t have the results, it’s the same solution,” he said, adding that stakeholders decided the quality was good enough to use.

Hara Kumar, general manager at Mysore Paints & Varnish Ltd, declined to comment beyond saying the ink “cannot be washed off”.

Ambassador Edgar, who had to leave the testing event early due to other commitments, later said he welcomed the NEC’s “openness in arranging a public demonstration of the ink”.

“I tried the ink and have not been able to remove it,” he said yesterday evening. “I am confident that, taken together, the measures planned by the NEC should provide a robust safeguard against multiple voting.”

The CNRP’s Phalla, however, said he still had concerns over the quality of the ink but had confidence in the other NEC measures. “I hope that the five principles will help ensure no one can vote more than once and [that] no one can cheat,” he said.

Cambodian People’s Party spokesman Sok Eysan, meanwhile, said he was unconcerned about the ink, adding that the NEC had a “reliable voter list”.

Jay Raman, a spokesman with the US Embassy, did not directly address concerns over the ink but said the US believes that “an accurate and comprehensive voter list and a fair process for voter registration are two of the most critical aspects of electoral administration”.

“USAID recently supported a voter registration audit that determined that 2017 voter roll contained only minor issues and was a vast improvement from the previous election.”

A previous version of this story reported that people attempting to commit fraud in the June 4 electoral vote would receive a fine of 2 million to 5 million riel. The fine would in fact be of 5 million to 20 million riel. The Post apologises for the error.

MOST VIEWED

  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Knockout! Kun Khmer replaces ‘Muay’ for Phnom Penh Games

    Cambodia has decided to officially remove the word Muay from the programme of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2023 in May. “Kun Khmer” will instead be used to represent the Southeast Asian sport of kickboxing, in accordance with the wishes of the Cambodian people. Vath

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • New int’l airport nearly half complete as travel industry returns to life

    Construction of a new airport that is slated to serve the capital has passed the 43 per cent completion mark, raising prospects for a proper recovery in the civil aviation and tourism sectors as international travellers return to the Kingdom in increasingly large numbers. The figure

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,