PETALING JAYA: Malaysians working in Singapore are determined to return home to cast their votes despite the inconvenience posed by the midweek polling day.
For Loo Xian, 28, the reason is simple – Malaysia is home.
Loo, who works at an international fashion house in Singapore, said all of her Malaysian colleagues would be making their way to their hometowns to cast their votes on May 9.
“Although being in Singapore is better than Malaysia in many ways, Malaysia is still the home you want to come back to.
“Let me say this: the more they try to make it difficult for us to go back to vote, the more I want to prove them wrong,” Loo said.
Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said in January that Malaysian voters living in Singapore were not expected to return in numbers to vote in the 14th general election (GE14) as they felt that they had been “cheated” by the opposition in past polls.
The Pulai lawmaker also dismissed the possibility of Malaysians in Singapore tilting the balance towards the opposition, especially in Johor where most of them are registered as voters.
His remarks have now resurfaced and gone viral on social media, reposted by Malaysians who are unhappy with it.
Loo said one of her colleagues was travelling back to Teluk Intan for the polls.
“We are just applying for our leave days and our boss has agreed to let us go home to vote. We are very grateful for that.
“Another way to get around this is, we can request to work remotely,” she added.
Shatir Baha, 35, said it was wrong for Nur Jazlan to make assumptions about those working in Singapore.
“Many of us have to resort to working in Singapore because we can’t find jobs in Malaysia that pay us enough to support the rising cost of living.
“If we had a choice, we would of course prefer to stay in Malaysia. Nobody wants to leave their families and work in another country.
“I have already bought my flight ticket home, and I will make sure that I do my bit to ensure that Malaysians will no long have to work in Singapore,” he said.
Shatir said together, Malaysians could help rebuild the nation and make the country great again with higher paying job opportunities.
Anita Hassan, 31, who also works in Singapore, said she and her friends had been waiting for the Election Commission’s (EC) announcement on the nomination and polling dates so that they could book their tickets home.
“Some of us were anticipating polling day to be in early May.
“We planned our schedules around those few weeks. None of us booked any holidays abroad, just in case.
“So, Nur Jazlan, we are coming back,” she said.
Some are even considering taking unpaid leave so that they can return to cast their votes.
Lim Thian Yi, 34, who is from Johor, said he and his colleagues had already applied for two days of leave, including a day of unpaid leave.
“A lot of Johoreans work in Singapore, they are used to the travelling.
“Some may not be able to take too many days off, but they are willing to risk it. For the first time, I am witnessing so much unity after the last general election. I feel Malaysians are even more united this time around,” he said.
Nur Jazlan had also questioned Hong Kong-based airline, Cathay Pacific, for offering a waiver for rebooking and rerouting charges for Malaysians travelling on polling day.
He recently said there was no need to declare May 9 a public holiday as under the law, employers were required to give their employees time off to to cast their votes.
In the 2008 and 2013 elections, scores of Malaysians in Singapore returned home to vote, causing massive congestion at the Causeway.
The human resources ministry estimated in 2015 that there were about 350,000 Malaysians working in Singapore and another 386,000 with permanent resident status.
The EC had announced earlier that those residing in southern Thailand, Singapore, Brunei and Kalimantan province, Indonesia, cannot apply for postal voting and must return to Malaysia to cast their votes on polling day.
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