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Malaysians laud Putrajaya for May 9 holiday, but remain critical of EC

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

KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 — Putrajaya did well to declare a national holiday for the May 9 general election, said voters who remained upset with the Election Commission (EC) for choosing a Wednesday to conduct polling.

Former Bernama chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Annuar Zaini expressed appreciation to caretaker prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for invoking the Holidays Act 1951, saying it will be easier for him to return to Perak to vote.

Citing an online petition that asks the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to declare May 9 a holiday, he said it demonstrated Malaysians’ desire to be part of the country’s democratic process.

“It is proof that citizens have the interests of their country at heart. The outstation voters should be admired. They are willing to give time and money, travelling a long and hectic journey to make democracy work,” said the 67-year-old.

He said the EC remained liable if voter turnout for the 14th general election is low, adding that this would indicate a failure on the part of the poll regulator.

Others said they were happy that May 9 will be a holiday, but those living far from their constituencies maintained that polling should have been set for a weekend.

Jules Fernz, a 37-year-old engineer from Kuala Krai, Kelantan who lives and works in Kuala Lumpur, said the holiday helped, but did not change the fact that he still needed time off to vote.

“Not having it on a Saturday just reflects negatively on EC. There is no reason concrete enough to justify this, more so having the elections in the middle of the week which will definitely make it harder for outstation voters,” he said.

Private school teacher Beverlyn Nathan, 32, remained critical of the EC’s decision, saying it was a definite mistake to poll midweek.

Others such as small business owner Asmidaryati Awang, 42, and her husband Zaini Ishak, 45, said the holiday would still not make it possible for them to vote.

She said they must either fly to Terengganu or take extra days off to vote, and claimed both were unaffordable options.

“I’m quite upset with the EC because they could have made things easier for everyone and held the elections on a Saturday. I’m not certain if they were being sincere in helping the voters,” Asmidaryati said.

New voter Siti Mahmud, 32, said she was happy with the ad hoc holiday and not upset by the EC’s decision to hold polling on a Wednesday.

Despite having to fly back to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Siti said she did not consider it troublesome to exercise her right to vote.

“I think Wednesday is a good day for us to go for polling because it’s my most productive day at work. And on May 9, instead of going to work, I’ll be headed to vote, which will contribute in determining Malaysia’s future.

“How is it a burden when you’re just doing your part for our country?” Siti asked.

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