KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 — Bersih 2.0 has urged the federal government today to announce May 9 as a public holiday so Malaysians would not have to juggle between work, school and their responsibilities as voters.
In a statement, the polls watchdog’s steering committee said the nomination and polling dates for the 14th general election, announced today, would make it hard for those who have to return to their hometown to vote.
“Not only is the campaign period only the minimum 11 days, but polling day is on a Wednesday, a working day and a school day,” it said.
“Those who have to 'balik kampung' to vote will be at an added disadvantage, especially those that have to return to Sabah or Sarawak from the Peninsular and vice versa.
“Furthermore, party polling and counting agents and volunteer observers will have to find time off work to contribute to clean and fair elections,” it added.
It also urged state governments to declare public holidays on the day before or after polling day.
Election Commission (EC) chairman Tan Sri Mohd Hashim Abdullah announced nomination day would fall on 28 April, advance polling day on 5 May and the polling day on 9 May earlier today.
Bersih 2.0 said if the polling day is not declared public holiday, employers should give their workers time off to vote with no deductions, in accordance to Section 25 (1) of the Election Offences Act.
“It is regrettable that this cost is now forced upon employers,” it said.
The coalition condemns the newly-announced dates, adding they would not give voters ample time to carefully scrutinise the candidates.
“We have, for over 10 years, demanded a campaign period of at least 21 days to give voters adequate time to assess the candidates and their manifestos.
“With a budget of over RM400 million, the EC has more than enough funds to make this a reality,” it said.