Cuepacs: Be fair, declare May 9 a national holiday

Malaysia will go to the polls on May 9, a Wednesday. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Malaysia will go to the polls on May 9, a Wednesday. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 — Making May 9 a public holiday will let voters participate freely in the 14th general election (GE14), said the Congress of Union of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs).

Cuepacs president Datuk Azih Muda said simply providing an ad hoc holiday for the civil service would be inadequate as workers in the private sector could still have difficulty securing the time needed to cast their ballot.

He said this was why Cuepacs was recommending a national holiday so that no one will be deprived of their right to vote.

“Chances are there are some (voters) who will still end up not being able to reach the polling stations; worse still are the ones who must travel to their hometowns,” he told the Malay Mail when contacted.

“Public holidays have been declared for smaller occasions in the past; declaring one day for the general election will not cause the government major losses as the GE is once every five years,” he added.

The last time polling fell on a weekday was the 10th general election, which was held on November 29, 1999, a Monday. However, the date was declared a national holiday.

Separately, Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) secretary-general J. Solomon criticised the decision to conduct polling on a weekday, saying it will cause significant hardship for working voters.

Calling the Election Commission (EC) irresponsible for its decision, he added that this was the latest evidence to show the victimisation of workers in Malaysia.

Solomon added that needlessly inflicting such hardships on voters may lead to a backlash.

He then reminded employers of their obligation under the Elections Act 1958 to provide “reasonable time” for workers to cast their ballot, but expressed doubt that will be adequate to let some vote.

“Many will have to travel to their hometowns and time off is not workable. They may also need to bring along their elderly, immediate family members, which will definitely cause a bottleneck in the middle of the week,” he said.

He also predicted that some employers will not comply with the law by giving their staff time off to vote, and demanded to know how authorities plan to address these firms.

He then repeated his criticism of the weekday polling date, pointing out that nominations will be conducted on April 28, a Saturday.

“There is still time to do make things easier for voters to exercise their rights,” he said.

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