PETALING JAYA: Nothing unites Malaysians better than food, even on May 9 when they are divided over their choice of the next government.
In that spirit, two popular restaurants are offering free meals to reward those who cast their votes at the coming polls, in yet another instance of Malaysians coming together to encourage high voter turnout.
Eng Chun Bak Kut Teh, a popular Chinese restaurant in Klang, said it would serve free bowls of bak kut teh come polling day on May 9, a pork rib dish cooked in a herbed broth.
“On polling day, we will observe the ink marks on the voters’ fingers and they can enjoy a bowl of bak kut teh with rice,” said the restaurant’s owner Huang Yongjin on Facebook.
Meanwhile, noodle chain Meet Mee said it would serve free bowls of Pan Mee at its three branches in Desa Setapak, Danau Kota and Sungai Long.
“People are not voting because of my Pan Mee, but this is my way of playing my part in this coming general election,” a spokesman for Meet Mee told a local television station.
He said the gesture was nothing compared to efforts to help thousands of voters travel back to their voting constituencies on May 9.
Huang, 34, said his restaurant would prepare 500 sets of bak kut teh with rice worth some RM5,500.
But Huang hoped people would come out to vote early, so that his 15 workers could also exercise their right to vote later in the afternoon.
Malaysians have rallied on social media with creative plans to encourage a high voter turnout, after the Election Commission (EC) came under fire for choosing a mid-week working day as polling day.
The “Pulang Mengundi” movement which began as a Twitter hashtag helps arrange transportation for those who are unable to go home on polling day due to logistic and financial reasons.
A website, www.pulangmengundi.com now provides carpooling services and travel subsidies, with details of drivers who are offering carpools as well as riders who are looking for a lift home.
Several airlines have also announced incentives including waiving fees to change travel dates and special discounted airfares.