Posted: 17 Jul 2013 03:21 PM PDT
Frankie D'Cruz,The Malay Mail
It was only Monday and already Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar was having the worst week in Malaysia with his staggering remark that Barisan Nasional politicians who don't ask for contracts from the government are cowards.
Bung had implicated his colleagues and none I would expect were sympathetic toward him. But we all know that Bung's demeanour is one of gruff agitation. The cranky MP is like that obsessive spammer who fills your inbox with thickets of confusing disclosures.
Multi-award winning journalist Frankie D'Cruz is editor of The Malay Mail. He can be reached at email@example.com or Twitter @frankieDcruz. - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/opinion/frankie-dcruz/article/bungs-betrayal-in-parliament#sthash.hOhB7iSU.dpuf
Multi-award winning journalist Frankie D'Cruz is editor of The Malay Mail. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @frankieDcruz.
Posted: 17 Jul 2013 12:09 PM PDT
When we put individual interests aside, we will find it easier to make the right decisions for the party and the country.
Liow Tiong Lai
What happens when you hit rock bottom?
That's the question MCA was faced with after the party's disappointing performance in the 13th general election.
The answer is clear: we have to pick ourselves up, learn from our mistakes and revitalise the party. The voters sent a clear sign that the party has to transform itself.
From the beginning, we decided the transformation process would be carried out systematically, through detailed implementable programmes that can effect real change.
Taking a solution-focused approach will help us to resolve the party's problems. This requires that we look at what we are already doing that might contribute to resolving the problem as well as ask ourselves where we want to get to so that we can figure out how to get there.
Going back to basics — the party's constitution — helps to remind us of our original objectives so that we can get back on the right path. The party's philosophy, in a nutshell, is to provide equitable opportunities for all Malaysians and safeguard the legitimate rights of the Chinese community.
Based on this common understanding, it was determined we need to focus on four pillars to revitalise the party: restructuring the party; rediscovering our political ideologies and values; emphasising communal inclusiveness; and empowering the people.
Restructuring the party involves improving our processes and practices to rebuild a more credible party.
The next pillar is rediscovering our political ideologies and values, which I personally believe is the key to our transformation. We must remember the values that guided our founding fathers: to uphold the family institution, the Chinese language and culture, to promote health and the environment and to abide by Confucian principles.
Our core values — of accountability, fairness and justice — must also be attractive to the younger generation, who is the future of the party and the nation. Thus, we must ask ourselves, how can MCA attract youths to volunteer with the party and pledge their commitment to our cause?
The third pillar — communal inclusiveness — should see the party getting back on track to unite the Chinese and all citizens of Malaysia. MCA's constitution and ideology has always been to protect the rights of all races in Malaysia.
The principle of inclusiveness enables us to empower the people, through quality education, sound economic policies and social programmes. The goal is to equip people with the competitive strength to face the challenges ahead.
The transformation task force has come up with an outline for the process that we will undertake. Some of the urgent areas we need to address are organisational change, election reform, re-registration of members and selection criteria for candidates.
We need a clear road map so that we remain true to our objectives. This is not a job that the president or deputy president can do alone: MCA is not a one-man show, but a big party that belongs to the hundreds of thousands of members.
The nationwide roadshows are critical to give grassroots members the opportunity to speak honestly, without fear or favour. Different opinions and even criticisms are welcomed. If a person keeps an open mind, the voices from the Tower of Babel will start to make sense.
We are also holding dialogues with NGOs, Chinese associations, chambers of commerce and the public, as well as international seminars to learn from the practices of other countries who have successfully rejuvenated their political parties.
All this input forms the blueprint, which will be presented to members for feedback, before being debated and endorsed at the party's annual general meeting in December.
From there, our journey towards transformation would have just begun. Do we have the courage to look within ourselves for change? From the grassroots to the top, we have to discard every bit of arrogance and learn to be humble to the community.
Most importantly, we need to work together as one party with one goal. How do we achieve this? I have always reminded others when we talk about party unity, it starts with oneself. The question should be: "How can I unite with others?" not "How can others unite with me?"
When we put individual interests aside, we will find it easier to make the right decisions for the party and the country. So, with Election Day well behind us, let us get on with our work. The people do not want excuses, they want solutions.
Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai is MP of Bentong, Pahang. In this column, he shares his personal perspective on national and community issues close to his heart. Follow him on his blog (www.liowtionglai.com/blog), or on Twitter (@liowtionglai).
Posted: 17 Jul 2013 12:07 PM PDT
If a 2 per cent silver nitrate solution cannot cause a stain on the eyes of newly born babies, do not expect a 1 per cent silver nitrate to do the magic that we all know about in the genuine indelible ink.
Stephen Ng, The Malay Mail
Finally, the formula is out!
Ladies and gentlemen, The fiasco "indelible" ink is made of:
Silver Nitrate 1 per cent
Organic colour 60 per cent
Moisturiser 29 per cent
Solvent 10 per cent
This, as declared by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Shahidan Kassim makes a perfect 100% indelible ink fiasco that rocked the nation and mocked our country's electoral process.
It has made me wonder why the Election Commission (EC) as a constitutional body set up to safeguard the electoral process from being manipulated by either party, has not been that forthcoming with the truth or willing to use the right tool correctly to tighten the loopholes within the system.
Now, with the ink formula being told in parliament, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel.
Firstly, the Minister should be censured for misleading the Dewan Rakyat by earlier stating that the ink did not have chemicals and only contained food colouring.
Minister Shahidan, please do not also make a mockery out of our august House by stating what is apparently untrue. Even a young teenager will be able to tell you that silver nitrate and moisturizers are chemicals; or else, would you also categorise them as food "colouring" that can be consumed?
But at least you score a point by telling the world the composition of the "indelible" ink. So, to be fair, now we know that in the indelible ink, there is one percent Silver Nitrate after all! I give the Election Commission chairman, Abdul Aziz Yusof a one-point score for stating the ink should not be more than 1 per cent Silver Nitrate, but excuse me, I have to minus two points from his deputy, Wan Ahmad Wan Omar for insisting that the ink had at least 4 per cent Silver Nitrate.
Do not think that the rakyat are all stupid. We are in fact very disgusted with the way how ministers and the EC duo contradict each other, hoping that the public would buy their stories. There are no reasons why they should be playing the hide-and-seek, especially since the EC no longer enjoy public confidence after the indelible ink fiasco. If they have any sense of dignity left, they should immediately resign.
After over a thousand police reports being lodged after GE13, the issue is still being taken lightly? Why?
According to public knowledge, industry standard for electoral inks contain anything between 10 to 18% silver nitrate solution, depending on the length of time the mark is required to be visible.
A one percent silver nitrate is as good as the 2 per cent aqueous silver nitrate solution used for the treatment of Ophthalmia neonatorum (ON), or neonatal conjunctivitis. In other words, if a 2 per cent silver nitrate solution cannot cause a stain on the eyes of newly born babies, do not expect a 1 per cent silver nitrate to do the magic that we all know about in the genuine indelible ink.
There is, in fact, no basis for the ink manufacturer to reduce the silver nitrate to 1 percent, especially since there is hardly anything carcinogenic about silver nitrate.
As my chemistry professor at Monash University in Clayton wrote in his email reply to my query: "Silver nitrate has been spilt on hands of dozens of students before OHS were tightened. The effects are unsightly stains that are hard to remove, but I have not heard of adverse health effects. Further AgNO3 has a long history in removal of warts from hands and feet, again without adverse effects other than stains. Given the attention to heavy metals I would have thought adverse effects would be documented by now. If not in MSDS, it should be OK."
I thought my knowledge of chemistry has gone to the rust, but a well-known chemistry professor confirmed my suspicions that silver nitrate, which can be purchased online at its 99.9% purity, will not harm human beings. Why then the fuss of keeping it at one percent? If the ink supplier has any knowledge about the indelible ink, who then instructed them to change the formulation to one percent? Why was only one percent used? Was it done by intention?
Instead of silver nitrate, which is reduced to a mere one percent, moisturizer content in the ink is ("Ooops!) 29 percent! I have yet to come across an ink which carries a moisturizer, but I have seen ink formula which uses a binder – never a moisturizer! This is not about moisturizing the finger to keep it give it that 'youthful glow at all times', but to make sure that an indelible stain is made on the skin to stop multiple voting.
With the electoral roll frauds that we have seen, this is one way to stop people from voting more than once. It is a quick, easy and cheap way of deterring people from multiple voting. But to use moisturizer in indelible ink, I have to ask, "Who gave that instruction?"
Moisturiser is essentially an emulsion preparation of oil and water, and sulfur lauryl sulfate (SLS) is used to stabilize the emulsion. For the sake of the ordinary folks, SLS is basically "soap" or detergent. It will only help remove stains. Oil, as you know, is repellent to any form of ink adhesion. If you have a moisturizer mixed into an ink, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell you why the ink would not adhere to the skin after it is being washed.
Eureka! That's why our friends in Sabah could remove the ink using grass to clean their index fingers within the same day which means the electoral process has a loophole, left there inadvertently or by design, I let you decide!
If there are health concerns over the use of silver nitrate which the EC chairman kept harping on, Abdul Aziz should be more concerned about the use of moisturisers. First, it has to do with the ingredients used in the moisturizer as a recent study had cited that 'the application of certain moisturizers increases the incidence of skin cancer in high-risk mice, but these animals were subjected to UVB radiation in high doses over a long period of time prior to application of moisturizers.'
There are also other factors to consider when using a moisturizer in the ink such as allergy, as some ingredients can cause irritation, rashes, and other allergic reactions. Besides that, the ink supplier had failed to include a most basic ingredient, which is the biocide since the moisturizers run the risk of being contaminated with bacteria that can cause disease.
In the first place, using a moisturizer in the indelible ink is not only making us a big laughing stock, but totally unthinkable and unsound as far as formulation of inks is concerned.
Minister Shahidan Kassim could have scored a point if he had said 89 per cent of the ink is food colouring, but for revealing the 29 per cent moisturizer content in the indelible ink, I shall remove 2 points from his score.
There is a reason why you cannot use food colouring alone for the indelible ink, but I shall wait for the right time to reveal. However, any chemist would immediately pick up that, without the peroxides (in hair dye) or the silver nitrate in this case the indelible ink, the organic food colouring will not be lasting. The trick in indelible ink is simply the silver nitrate, and it is public knowledge that an 18 per cent solution silver nitrate is what you need for an effective stain. Anything more than that makes no difference to the stain longevity.
What is so secretive about the solvent used?
We all know that silver nitrate can dissolve in water or alcohol easily. If water is used, to manufacture 3 tonnes of the fiasco ink, 10 per cent of this (i.e. 300 kg) is nothing but water but did we pay RM6.9 million for this?
Judging from the length of time it took for the ink to dry on the index finger, I doubt if alcohol was used, but even if it is used, there is no way that the ink could dry in three seconds as stated earlier by Wan Ahmad. With alcohol, it will take about 15–30 seconds to dry before it causes a smudge o the ballot paper.
For this reason, I believe Tindak Malaysia had, before the last General Election, argued that the EC should follow the standard practice of dipping the index finger into the bottle after the voter had cast his votes.
One of the other reasons is because if you applied the ink at the second clerk's position, fewer eyes are on it after the slightest traces are being painted over. The polling agents who are supposed to be the watchdogs would not be able to determine if there was indeed foul play.
Whether this entire thing is done deliberately or not, I leave it to the people to judge especially since the evidence points to the fact that the EC had indeed committed misfeasance, at least in my opinion. They have flip-flopped with their own statements every other day.
Could this be perhaps, signs of Alzheimer's Disease, and if that's being the case, they no longer hold such important positions, especially since they no longer enjoy public confidence.
Think about it! The results of the General Election determines who will form the next Government, and as the EC, I would do whatever I can to safeguard the electoral process from all sorts of frauds. Forget about the indelible stain on the index finger that will remain for another seven days (it is safe), I would want a clean and fair election.
It is obvious to me after monitoring the development around the ink fiasco that there was a deliberate attempt to make the ink fail to perform, thus making the electoral process vulnerable to manipulation by multiple voters.
My proposal of indelible ink
Having the privilege of working in the research and development laboratories in all three areas – printing ink, paint and emulsion polymers – I share with you my philosophy behind my own 'backyard product' if I were to formulate the indelible ink.
I would put 18 per cent silver nitrate to make sure that the ink is indelible. The rest of it, I would add perhaps a 15% per cent organic dye depending on the colour and opacity that you want. I will also need about 0.5 per cent biocide to make sure that the ink does not become contaminated with bacteria. I still have a room of 66.5 per cent to play with.
Given the selling price is RM6.9 million of 'halal' money, I would be generous to put a dose of 0.5 per cent fragrance to make the ink smell good. You can choose jasmine, lavender or rose. The rest of it, it's nothing but a combination of water and alcohol.
Doesn't this work better for an indelible ink?
I go back to the Wikipedia for a quick reference – and bingo!
It says: "Electoral stain typically contains a pigment for instant recognition, and silver nitrate which stains the skin on exposure to ultraviolet light, leaving a mark that is impossible to wash off and is only removed as external skin cells are replaced. Although normally water-based, electoral stains occasionally contain a solvent such as alcohol to allow for faster drying, especially when used with dipping bottles, which may also contain a biocide to ensure bacteria aren't transferred from voter to voter."
* Stephen Ng is a chemist by training. He dealt with printing ink, paint and emulsion polymer for 15 years before becoming a freelance writer.
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