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From #PulangMengundi to #CarpoolGE14: Malaysians unite to ensure voters turn up

Barisan Nasional and PKR flags are seen near a bus-stop along Jalan Ulu Klang, Kuala Lumpur on April 10, 2018. — Picture by Ham Abu Bakar
Barisan Nasional and PKR flags are seen near a bus-stop along Jalan Ulu Klang, Kuala Lumpur on April 10, 2018. — Picture by Ham Abu Bakar

KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 — Just moments after the Election Commission (EC) announced that polling day would be on May 9 — a Wednesday — Twitter user Iggy Amabel was among the first to share that returning to vote would not be as easy as she thought.

Tweeting on the account @LonTugi, Iggy said she was unable to afford a return ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Ranau, Sabah — which would cost her about RM700.

“I can’t afford to do so … no reduction in flight tickets. Unlike 2013 poll, back then I only spent less than RM300 for my son and myself,” she said.

Thanks to her lucky stars, novelist Hanna Alkaf replied from her account @yesitshanna to offer her help, after Iggy’s tweet was retweeted by Malay Mail’s own Joe Lee on his account @klubbkiddkl.

In the hours since then, Lee and the #PulangMengundi (Malay for “return to vote”) hashtag he created has helped many angel donors and those who could not afford tickets to return home get in touch with each other.

 

 

“#PulangMengundi as of 10pm has helped at least a few dozen Malaysians to return home, and it’s testimony that Malaysians do take their responsibility and privilege to vote seriously,” Lee told Malay Mail last night.

“Numerous sponsors have also contacted me, and the advice to all good samaritans who want to join in the drive, look through the hashtag for those you can help.

“#PulangMengundi is not backed by any party or NGO, and made up entirely of the Malaysian Twitter-verse. Who says social media is toxic?” he added.

Hanna herself has been linking donors who wish to donate directly with the ones who needed it the most, while other Twitter users such as Elida Bustaman (@mokciknab), Alzari “Joey” Mahshar (@pualdidan), and @bumilangit have banded together to run a fund for the same objective.

By last night, the hashtag has become Malaysia’s number one trending topic, as many more offered to help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another hashtag, #CarpoolGE14 was also started yesterday by writer Nizam Bakeri, to match users who wish to carpool home together during the election period.

Those with requests and offers would need to specify the place of origin and destination, date and time of trip, meeting point, and number of available seats.

Nizam and another user Syazwani (@AnnieVeeee) had later started the @CarpoolGE14 Twitter account to facilitate the requests.

 

 

Meanwhile on Facebook, a carpooling group, Jom Balik Undi has already spread like wildfire with the same aim — to help Malaysians to ‘balik kampung’ and vote.

Started just around two weeks ago by user Sandra Tang, it has now nearly 11,000 members.

Just yesterday alone, it had over 200 posts of voters offering rides and seeking each other.

Another kind soul, Izzah Azura also took to Facebook to assist others by setting up a crowdfunding platform to fund anyone who could not afford to “balik kampung” to vote.

For those who wished for a more direct approach, they can download homegrown carpool app Droupr available on Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store.

The app, launched in 2016, had started its return-to-vote campaign just after polling date was announced.

 

 

“Carpool is fun. It is all about travelling experience, while everyone share the cost of travel.  Droupr car owners or drivers aren’t cabbies out to make a profit.

“We make sure the experience stays true to that community culture. You’ll never get into a car with stranger when you’re on a Droupr trip,” Naim Ahmad, chief operating officer and co-founder of the app, told Malay Mail.

The election this year would be the first one to be held on a Wednesday since Malaysia was formed.

Several firms have since announced paid leave for its employees to go vote, while some are even paying for their staff members’ tickets.

Airlines such as Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Malindo Air and Cathay Pacific have also announced they would waive rerouting fees for those whose flights fall on the voting day.

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