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For the convenience of voters

  • The election provides one rare opportunity for Malaysians to decide who get to run this country on their behalf.

Sin Chew Daily

Casting the ballot in hand to elect a representative or the government is the most important right of a citizen.

As such, the election commission should make the best ever arrangements to encourage more Malaysians to exercise their right in manifesting the democratic spirit.

The EC has fixed a working day (May 9 Wednesday) as the polling day for the 14th general elections, triggering widespread outcry among people who claim such a move will make it very inconvenient for voters to exercise their constitutional right to vote, making them less motivated to cast their ballots.

The caretaker government subsequently declared May 9 as a national public holiday so that Malaysians can travel back to their hometowns to vote.

This announcement is believed to bring convenience to voters and will likely bring up voter turnout.

Before the announcement was made, members of the public were apparently very unhappy with putting the polling date in the middle of a week, and had started an online petition to get the King to declare the polling day as a public holiday.

The petition received an overwhelming response among the netizens and more than 100,000 people responded to the call within several hours, showing that most people indeed believed that the polling day should fall on a weekend for the convenience of voters.

Legally speaking, there are currently no laws specifying that polling must be held on a weekend or holiday. As a matter of fact, there were previous instances of weekday polling in the country's electoral history. For example, the 1959 general elections fell on a Wednesday (Aug 19), the 1982 election was on a Thursday (Apr 22), 1995 election was on a Tuesday (Apr 25) and 1999 election was on a Monday (Nov 29).

It is not against the law for the EC to fix the polling day on a weekday, and such a move is absolutely lawful. However, this will definitely inconvenience many voters, in particular those staying outstation.

As a result, these people will have to apply for at least a day off in order to travel back to their hometowns to vote, resulting in those weak in political awareness to simply give up their right to vote.

Even there is no law that specifies the polling day must fall on a weekend, doing so will make it much more convenient for registered voters to exercise their right to vote.

It is also because of this that the government later decided to declare May 9 as a national public holiday.

Now that May 9 has been declared a public holiday, all registered voters must do their utmost to go out and vote, which is of tremendous importance in the operation of democracy.

Meanwhile, the MEF will also need to follow the government's footsteps to grant their employees a day off. In the event some employees may need to apply for more than a day off, the employers must also be more flexible in handling this matter, as general elections will only be held once every five years, and every vote counts.

The election provides one rare opportunity for Malaysians to decide who get to run this country on their behalf. As such, they should really treasure such an opportunity and plan their journeys home to vote wisely for the sake of this country's future.

 

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