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KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 — The federal government has declared a special public holiday on May 9 to enable Malaysians to participate in the 14th general elections.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said it was invoking the Holidays Act 1951 to make polling day an ad hoc national holiday.
“Pursuant to the Election Commission’s announcement that the 14th general election will be on May 9, 2018, the government has set the day to be an additional public holiday for the entire country.
“This is to let Malaysians fulfil their duties as voters,” the PMO said in a statement.
The EC also announced yesterday that nomination will be on April 28 while advance voting is on May 5.
The announcement that polling will be on a Wednesday caused immediate controversy and prompted complaints that the move would discourage Malaysians from voting, particularly those from Sabah and Sarawak who work in the peninsula.
Some firms responded by announcing holidays for their staff while others went further by declaring three days of company holidays and offering to pay for workers to travel back to their constituencies to vote.
It is unclear why the EC chose to conduct polling on a Wednesday as its chairman, Tan Sri Mohd Hashim Abdullah, declined to take questions during yesterday’s announcement.
The midweek polling day is rare, but not unprecedented.
The first-ever Malaysian general election in 1959 took place on August 19, also a Wednesday.
Election 1982 was conducted on a Monday, while Election 1995 was held on a Tuesday.
In the 1999 general election, polling was done on a Monday.