It’s not first time polls set on a working day, says Salleh

Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak reminds Malaysians that the general election was held on a working day in 1995 and 1999.

KUALA LUMPUR: Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak said the Election Commission’s (EC) decision to set the polling date for the 14th general election (GE14) on a working day is not unprecedented.

He said in the 1995 and 1999 general elections, the polling day was also on a working day.

Salleh said this in response to certain quarters who questioned the EC’s decision in setting the polling date on Wednesday, May 9, with nominations and early voting fixed for April 28 and May 5 respectively, both of which fall on a Saturday.

“They questioned the EC’s decision in choosing a weekday for polling because it might cause a problem for the voters to leave work and travel home to cast their votes.

“They claimed that the date was purposely chosen by the EC to reduce voter turnout, hence giving an advantage to Barisan Nasional,” Salleh said in his latest blog post.

The minister said going to the polls on a working day was not a major issue as flexible working arrangements could be made for civil servants and those in the private sector.

“Let’s not be too quick to criticise or make baseless allegations that the BN government wants to lower voter turnout.

“We are a transparent government and of course we aim to achieve the 85% voter turnout seen in GE13. This is our spirit.

“So, may the GE14 process run smoothly and may those eligible to vote cast their votes for the future of our country,” he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said there was no need to declare polling day, May 9, a public holiday.

This was because existing laws already require employers to give time to their workers to vote.

He said under the Election Commission Act (Election Offences Act 195,4) employers are compelled to let their employees go and vote.

“Neither are they allowed to intimidate and prevent their employees from voting. Punishment for the offence is RM5,000.”

Nur Jazlan said during the time Dr Mahathir Mohamad was prime minister, polling day had also fallen on a weekday.

“Mahathir cries foul over GE14 on May 9 weekday polling day but he held polling on weekdays in 1982, 1995 and 1999,” he said in another tweet.

He said polling took place on a Monday in the 1995 and 1999 general elections, while in the 1982 general election, polling was fixed for Thursday until Monday (due to logistical reasons).

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